LEEDS UNITED slipped to their third defeat of the Championship season and second consecutive home loss as goals from Demarai Gray and Jacques Maghoma sealed a 2-0 success for Birmingham City at Elland Road.
The defeat extended United’s winless home streak to ten games ahead of the international break after which the Whites return to host leaders Brighton.
Leeds welcomed back top scorer Chris Wood from injury who started as part of a strong line up that also included Sunderland loanee Will Buckley making his Whites debut on the wing.
Liam Cooper came in for the dropped Giuseppe Bellusci at centre back with Luke Murphy replacing Tom Adeyemi in midfield.
Adeyemi was part of a decent bench for Leeds that also included Sam Byram, Jordan Botaka and Mirco Antenucci.
Despite fifth-placed Birmingham being unbeaten on their travels, the signs were promising that United could be about to bag their first home win of the campaign and first victory at Elland Road since March.
But a crowd that had not seen a Saturday home Whites win since Valentine’s Day saw Birmingham begin the brighter with David Cotterill’s cross-cum-shot deflected for a corner which was cleared.
Demarai Gray was also looking dangerous down the left flank and the winger worked his way into the area after seven minutes only to see his effort squirm wide.
At the other end, Wood beautifully controlled a long ball but fired his effort well wide before another effort was deflected behind for a corner which was cleared.
Stuart Dallas was then next to win United a corner but that too came to nothing and Blues were able to break with Maikel Kieftenbeld failing to make a full connection with a close range-header.
Leeds hit back Dallas feeding the ball to Buckley but his volley was easily saved and minutes later Birmingham showed just how dangerous they were on the counter.
David Cotterill and Gray were able to run at Leeds two on two and Liam Cooper’s efforts in hauling down Cotterrill earned him a yellow card.
The 20th-minute free-kick fell to David Davis who fired over but the danger was there for all to see with Leeds attempting to respond as Lewis Cook created a half chance for Berardi whose low effort was easily dealt with.
Several uneventful minutes followed before Charlie Taylor’s deep cross earned Leeds another corner but again the danger was averted.
At the other end, Kieftenbeld found row Z from 25 yards but five minutes later the goal that Birmingham had been threatening arrived through Gray.
From a Leeds attack, Stephen Gleeson’s long ball to Clayton Donaldson had Liam Cooper and Sol Bamba at sixes and sevens and while Cooper attempted to clear Gray picked up the pieces.
The 19-year-old turned inside before unleashing a fierce drive into the roof of the net to give Birmingham a 32nd-minute lead.
Cooper claimed he was fouled and referee Paul Tierney began to get a bit of stick but even after the goal it was the Blues who continued to press with Cotterill’s 25-yard free-kick fired straight at Marco Silvestri who performed a juggling act before eventually collecting.
And just three minutes before the interval Birmingham very nearly doubled their lead when the pacey Gray was again afford plenty of space to run at the Whites defence before delivering a low shot that Silvestri desperately parried away to safety.
From nowhere, Leeds nearly unearthed an equaliser when Dallas produced a shot that was destined for the top corner and forced Kuszczak into an excellent save for a corner that was cleared.
But the first period clearly belonged to Birmingham who ended the half with Gray again causing problems down the left flank.
Uwe Rosler opted to make no changes during the interval and was immediately involved with a discussion with referee Paul Tierney after Luke Murphy’s appeals for an early free-kick were turned down.
Cooper’s wayward back-pass then went out for a corner from which Gleeson fired wide.
Leeds hit back with Dallas instigating a promising move down the left which ended with Alex Mowatt’s weak shot being saved.
And Birmingham continued to threaten on the counter with a long ball finding Donaldson who outstripped Cooper before slicing his effort wide.
Leeds were offering little but then won a 56th-minute corner from which Sol Bamba’s downward header fizzed narrowly past the left hand post.
Rosler then withdrew Buckley after 57 minutes for Botaka who immediately got the crowd going by jinking past two defenders.
Then Birmingham’s Davis entered Tierney’s notebook who a late challenge on Taylor, after which Birmingham boss Gary Rowett introduced Jacques Maghoma for Cotterill.
Lewis Cook was the next player to be booked for his foul on 65 minutes after which Mirco Antenucci was introduced for Mowatt.
Leeds were gradually upping the ante and Cook produced a fierce volley that was well saved by Kuszczak but City immediately countered to such a degree that Cooper had to clear off the line from Maghoma.
But with Botaka looking particularly dangerous Leeds hit back by forcing a series of corners after which Rosler opted to make his final change with Berardi leaving the field for Byram to big applause.
Blues boss Rowett then brought on Jonathan Spector for Davis as the match entered its final 15 minutes to chants of attack, attack, attack from the home faithful.
Leeds were looking to Botaka and Antenucci in particular but in truth failed to create any clear cut chances as part of another frustrating afternoon at Elland Road.
A 90th-minute corner rose home hopes but Bamba headed wide and just a minute later Birmingham wrapped up victory with another clinical counter attack.
Again breaking with pace, the ball was fed to Maghoma who bore down on goal before smashing the ball past Silvestri to spark a mass of home fans heading for the exits.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Berardi (Byram 72), Cooper, Bamba, Taylor, Murphy, Cook, Mowatt (Antenucci 66), Buckley (Botaka 56), Dallas, Wood. Subs not used: Turnbull, Wootton, Bellusci, Adeyemi.
Birmingham City: Kuszczak; Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds; Gleeson, Kieftenbeld, Davis (Spector 74), Cotterill (Maghoma 62), Gray (Solomon-Otabor 80), Donaldson. Subs not used: Legzdins, Brown, Toral, Brock-Madsen.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
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