IN-FORM striker Chris Wood jumped off the substitute’s bench to net his sixth goal of the season and seal Leeds United a 1-0 victory against visiting Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup third round.
Whites head coach Garry Monk made seven changes to the side that won 2-0 at Cardiff City on Saturday but United still booked their place in the last 16 as Wood fired home an 85th-minute winner from close range.
The clash was witnessed by Elland Road’s lowest crowd since 2009 - 8,488 - but Leeds can now look forward to Wednesday night’s fourth round draw and will also approach Saturday’s home Championship clash with Ipswich Town after three-straight wins.
Leeds were immediately on the attack and only a smart save from David Raya prevented the Whites from taking a first-minute lead through Lewie Coyle.
United poured forward through Marcus Antonsson and Kemar Roofe and after the ball was cleared, Coyle produced a stunning volley from 25 yards out that was just tipped over the top left corner by Blackburn’s keeper.
But Rovers then went agonisingly close themselves five minutes later when an inviting left flank cross from Elliott Bennett was headed into the side netting by Liam Feeney.
Rovers then lost Scott Wharton to injury after just eight minutes as Ryan Nyambe was introduced, shortly before Hope Akpan was yellow carded for bringing down the lively Eunan O’Kane.
But Rovers then threatened again just after the quarter hour mark when a poor clearance from Liam Cooper was pounced upon by Stephen Hendrie who fired just wide from the edge of the area.
At the other end, a fine cross from Alex Mowatt was hacked away by Jason Lowe, with Mowatt seeming to thrive as a right winger with Kemar Roofe on the opposite flank and Kalvin Phillips playing the no 10 role.
Phillips then picked up the game’s second booking when scything down Sam Gallagher for a free-kick which was cleared.
Rovers then scrambled away a left wing cross from Charlie Taylor after Ronaldo Vieira led another Whites counter attack.
At the other end, a low effort from Bennett was deflected wide for a Rovers corner, from which Jack Byrne produced an effort destined for the top corner which was parried away by Marco Silvestri.
For Leeds, Roofe then had a crack from outside the box but his shot was well wide and two minutes of injury time ended with Leeds attacking but again with no end product.
No changes were made during the interval, after which Roofe curled another effort wide after good work from Antonsson.
Antonsson then went down under pressure in the Rovers area but referee Darren Deadman waved away the striker’s optimistic claims for a penalty.
Another ten uneventful minutes passed before a low corner from Phillips zipped right through the Rovers area, after which Vieira, who had just gone down injured, was replaced by Pablo Hernandez.
Blackburn then made a double change - meaning they had used all three substitutes - when Marvin Emnes and Connor Mahoney came on for Gallagher and Martin Samuelson just after the hour.
Whites ‘keeper Silvestri was then called into action to punch a clear a dangerous cross from Feeney with Blackburn looking more likely to bag the game’s first goal.
At the other end, fine trickery from Hernandez almost unlocked Rovers but O’Kane’s powerful shot was saved.
And Leeds were then indebted to two decent saves from Silvestri to keep out first Emnes and then Feeney from close range.
From the resulting corner, Bennett scrambled an effort just wide, after which United head coach Monk brought on Wood for Antonsson with 20 minutes left.
Almsot immediately after, a free header from Roofe was placed straight at Raya and Raya was then required to tip a curling free-kick from Hernandez just wide.
United pressure began to build and Darragh Lenihan was then booked for hauling down Roofe for a 79th-minute free-kick which was cleared.
Monk then made his final change by giving a rare appearance to Matt Grimes, on for Mowatt, in the 82nd minute.
And just three minutes later Leeds finally made the breakthrough as Wood converted his sixth goal of the season.
The dangerous Hernandez forced a save from Raya which fell to Roofe, in the area and to the right hand side of the goal.
The winger’s hooked effort was met by Wood whose initial effort was saved but then met with a close-range follow-up attempt to which Raya had no answers.
United then almost immediately bagged a second when Roofe’s curling effort was kept out by Raya at full stretch.
But Leeds were then let off the hook in the third minute of injury time when Akpan was teed up perfectly by Emnes but lost his footing from eight yard out and allowed Leeds to clear.
A Blackburn corner in the sixth minute of added time when only four were awarded then threatened to cause uproar, with ‘keeper Raya sent up looking for late heroics.
But United easily dealt with the corner which was then followed by Deadman’s full time whistle. Job done and into the next round.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Coyle, Cooper, Bartley, Taylor, Vieira (Hernandez 59), O’Kane, Phillips, Mowatt (Grimes 82), Roofe, Antonsson (Wood 70). Subs not used: Green, Ayling, Denton, Dallas.
Blackburn Rovers: Raya, Lowe, Wharton (Nyambe 8), Hendrie, Lenihan, Byrne, Feeney, Akpan, Samuelson (Mahoney 62), Bennett, Gallagher (Emnes 62). Subs not used: Steele, Marshall, Guthrie, Conway.
Referee: Darren Deadman.
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