GIUSEPPE BELLUSCI’S second error in four days saw Leeds United pay the penalty of two dropped points in last night’s draw with Championship visitors Queens Park Rangers.
After a non-event of a first half, Leeds improved after the interval and Chris Wood slid home Luke Murphy’s fine 70th-minute delivery for his first goal since December.
But for the second game in succession, a defensive error from Bellusci cost United dear as his clumsy challenge on Sebastian Polter gifted QPR a spot-kick, which top scorer Tjaronn Chery blasted into the top corner with three minutes left.
Leeds then looked to have been denied a dramatic stoppage-time winner as a stunning save from Alex Smithies kept out a close-range effort from substitute Lewie Coyle, but in any event the move was ruled offside.
After an impeccably observed minute’s silence on the 16th anniversary of Istanbul victims Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, Leeds started well with Stuart Dallas and Mustapha Carayol causing early problems. But in truth, the first half saw little of note apart from QPR losing Jamie Mackie to injury.
Leeds began the second half brightly with a lovely move involving Wood and Lewis Cook giving Murphy a chance 18 yards out, but his low effort was saved.
Carayol then pulled the ball back for Dallas whose effort went high and wide.
With 20 minutes left, United made the breakthrough when Murphy’s lovely flighted left-flank cross was stabbed home by a sliding Wood.
QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink reacted by sending on top scorer Chery, but the switch failed to have the desired effect.
United looked to be cruising to victory, but with just three minutes left Leeds conceded their second late penalty in two games and again Bellusci was the culprit. Polter raced into the United box but was only heading towards the byline when Bellusci’s late challenge sent him sprawling, with referee James Adcock then pointing to the spot. Bailey Peacock-Farrell had no chance with Chery’s clinical pile-driver, which soared into the top left corner.
There was one last chance for Leeds to snatch victory in stoppage-time though Smithies was on hand to keep out a close range effort from Coyle and then block a follow-up effort from Wood, although in any case the referee’s assistant had raised his flag for offside.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 83), Cook, Dallas (Coyle 85), Carayol, Wood. Unused substitutes: Grimes, Bamba, Adeyemi, Mowatt, Antenucci.
QPR: Smithies; Onuoha, Angella, Hall, Perch; Phillips, Faurlin, Luongo, Hoilett (Chery 74); Mackie (Polter 24), Washington (El Khayati 80). Unused substitutes: Ingram, Robinson, Henry, Gladwin.
Referee: James Adcock.