Darko Milanic will enter the international break still looking for his first victory as Leeds United head coach after a lively 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday today.
Giuseppe Bellusci struck 10 minutes from time to cancel out Chris Maguire’s earlier volley, leaving Milanic without a win after three games in charge at Elland Road.
United looked comfortable throughout the opening 45 minutes but their defence went missing shortly after the break as Maguire ran onto Jacques Maghoma’s cross and drilled the ball into the net.
Leeds fought for an equaliser but were contained by an excellent performance from Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood.
Westwood produced outstanding saves either side of Maguire’s goals, including a one-handed parry to keep out a rising effort from Mirco Antenucci.
Bellusci, however, snatched a deserved point with a calm and precise finish after Mowatt’s free-kick dropped to him inside the box.
The atmosphere at Elland Road did not match the levels of mayhem which Milanic grew used to during his years of involvement in the Belgrade rivalry but today’s clash was a typical English derby - close and competitive and yielding few goals.
But United’s defensive organisation was obvious from an early stage and they lacked only the killer pass to cut a shaky Wednesday’s backline to pieces.
Rodolph Austin drew a save from Westwood with a fierce drive from 30 yards, moments after Westwood advanced to turn a shot from Alex Mowatt behind.
Gaetano Berardi - recalled after suspension at left-back - mishit a good chance midway through the half after United broke quickly from their side of the halfway line but Wednesday had a couple of moments of their own.
Atdhe Nuhiu, their giant Austrian forward, made nothing of a good headed opportunity early on and Stevie May was inches away from steering a glancing header into the net at the end of the first half as Liam Palmer’s cross picked him out.
Casper Sloth struggled to make an impact behind United’s front two and he was replaced at the interval with Luke Murphy, allowing Mowatt to take on the playmaker role.
Wednesday nearly gifted Leeds a goal on 48 minutes when Glenn Loovens’ weak back-pass gave Mirco Antenucci the chance to lob Westwood but Palmer’s clearing header dealt with the ball before it could bounce into an empty net.
Westwood then denied Antenucci with a fine block, getting a foot to the striker’s finish after Souleymane Doukara played him clean through, and Wednesday made the save count with the opening goal on 52 minutes.
Jacques Maghoma swept a delivery from the left wing across the face of United’s goal and Maguire met the loose ball with a crisp volley which sailed into the corner of Marco Silvestri’s net.
Antenucci would have equalised within seconds had Westwood not reacted quickly to palm his rising hit into the crowd but May went close again on the hour, turning and striking the ball just beyond Silvestri’s far post.
Billy Sharp was thrown on for the final 20 minutes but it was Bellusci who claimed a point with a low shot which crept through a crowd of players and past a stranded Westwood.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Berardi, Bianchi, Austin, Mowatt, Sloth (Murphy 46), Doukara (Sharp 69), Antenucci (Morison 80). Subs (not used): S Taylor, Cooper, Warnock, Adryan.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Mattock, Maguire (Helan 70), Semedo (Coke 83), Lee, Maghoma, May, Nuhiu (Madine 46). Subs (not used): Kirkland, Buxton, Drenthe, Dielna.