Leeds United 1 Norwich City 3 - Poor Whites are second best to Canaries on a tough night

Luke Ayling is blocked by Jamal Lewis. Picture Bruce Rollinson
Luke Ayling is blocked by Jamal Lewis. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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A DAMAGING night saw Leeds United turn in a poor performance in their high-stakes Championship summit meeting with Norwich City, who dethroned the hosts from the top of the table on goal difference following an emphatic victory.

Impressive midfielder Mario Vrancic led the way with a brace, while Teemu Pukki also found the net as the Canaries exacted revenge for a painful defeat by the same scoreline in the reverse fixture at Carrow Road.

A stoppage-time strike from the returning Patrick Bamford - who netted his first league goal at Elland Road and third of the campaign - provided scant consolation for Leeds, second best on the evening.

Unbeaten on the road in the Championship since a defeat at Sheffield United, Norwich were plainly not the sort of side to give charity to - only for Leeds to do exactly that.

A foul by Pontus Jansson handed the Canaries a fifth-minute free-kick opportunity which they did not pass up, with Vrancic's sublime left-footed curler beating home debutant Kiko Casilla, with the aid of a deflection off Adam Forshaw.

Going forward, Leeds were bright and purposeful and pressurised the Norwich back four for fair spells in the first half, but there was major concern at the other end.

That was reinforced when Norwich made further capital on 35 minutes when Forshaw was easily dispossessed in a dangerous area by Emiliano Buendia.

The winger supplied Marco Stiepermann, who promptly teed up Vrancic, whose low angled strike was parried by Casilla after taking a deflection off Jansson - with Pukki following up to stroke home the rebound for his 22nd goal of a fine campaign.

It was a hugely deflating moment for the hosts and the overwhelming majority of the sell-out crowd.

United's response after Norwich's early opener was forceful and the hosts went desperately close to a leveller when Harrison's centre found Gianni Alioski, whose crisp low volley flew inches wide.

A flashpoint arrived on 27 minutes when Tim Krul, racing out of goal, caught Tyler Roberts with a latechallenge, but referee Stuart Attwell brandished a yellow card, with covering defenders protecting the goal.

A key block by Alioski then denied Buendia after a fine weaving run, before Leeds blotted their copybook with a poor concession for City's second goal.

Two interval substitutiions saw Jack Clarke and Barry Douglas enter the fray for Harrison and Pablo Hernandez, who were both out of sorts in the first half.

With something to hang onto and with confidence and athleticism on the break, the game was set up perfectly for Norwich, while Leeds clung to the hope of manufacturing another dramatic comeback akin to the game at Villa Park.

An early goal would have greatly aided their cause, but it was not forthcoming as Leeds' performance levels dipped alarmingly.

A tame Alioski shot was easily held by Krul, while at the other end, Max Aarons almost killed the game with a third for the Canaries after dispossessing Alioski.

The second half mapped out as the visitors would have hoped for, with a number of stoppages also frustrating the hosts in their bid to wrestle back the initiative.

The grandstand finale did not arrive earlier although Aarons had to make a key clearance following a dangerous low centre from Clarke.

The tin lid on a wretched evening arrived when Vrancic was left unchallenged in the box to steer home a third for the visitors.

Leeds netted a late concession when Bamford - shortly after hitting the bar - headed in from a corner against one of his former clubs.

Leeds United: Casilla; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper; Alioski, Forshaw, Klich, P Hernandez (Douglas 45); Harrison (Clarke 45), Roofe, Roberts (Bamford 63). Substitutes unused: Peacock-Farrell, Phillips, Shackleton, Gotts.

Norwich City: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis; Trybull (Tettey 84), Krancic; Buendia (McLean 85), Stiepermann, O Hernandez; Pukki (Rhodes 87). Substitutes unused: McGovern, Hanley, Srbeny, Cantwell.

Attendance: 36,524.