Leeds United slipped to their first defeat of the season as the club succumbed to an onslaught from Millwall at the New Den.
Aiden O’Brien slotted home a close-range chance on 73 minutes as Millwall took advantage of a dominant display and forced Leeds’ defence to crack after almost 10 hours without conceding.
Thomas Christiansen’s side had not shipped a goal in the league since the first weekend of the season but O’Brien’s chance was one opportunity too many on an afternoon when Leeds held onto top spot in the Championship but struggled to cope with Millwall’s intensity.
The hosts had already seen a Steve Morison strike disallowed for offside and Jed Wallace hit a post before O’Brien drilled the ball home unmarked from close range to end Leeds’ seven-match unbeaten run.
Head coach Thomas Christiansen suffered a blow ahead of kick-off as captain Liam Cooper was ruled with a back injury.
The centre-back failed to recover from a midweek knock in time for today’s clash, despite Christiansen indicating yesterday that he would be fit, and youngster Conor Shaughnessy stepped in for his second league start of the season.
Leeds appeared to have fallen behind on seven minutes when Morison ran into bury the rebound after Felix Wiedwald spilled Conor McLaughlin’s shot but an offside flag rescued Christiansen’s side.
Shaughnessy was then in the right place to stab another Morison’s shot off the line as Millwall’s Wallace swung in a cross from the right, finding the striker at the far post.
Leeds failed to threaten in the face of constant pressure and Shaun Williams came close at the end of the half with a deflected free-kick which sailed just wide. Morison had time to threaten again but Wiedwald dived to keep out his glancing header.
Christiansen threw on Stuart Dallas and Kemar Roofe at the break but Millwall should have broken the deadlock early in the second half when Wiedwald denied an unmarked Shaun Hutchinson with his legs.
Leeds took until the 54th minute to see a clear chance as Kalvin Phillips flicked Dallas’ free-kick wide but Wallace was inches away on 59 minutes when his cleanly-hit volley rebounded off Wiedwald’s right-hand post.
The pressure, however, remained on Leeds and Wiedwald could do nothing when Fred Onyedinma forced a bouncing ball to O’Brien, leaving the midfielder to stab the ball low into the net and inflict United’s first defeat of the season.
Good Day For: Neil Harris. You could tell from his programme notes that this fixture matters to him and his team performed exactly as Harris liked to perform against Leeds back in the day. This was a 1-0 hammering as Millwall piled in with 20 shots on goal to United’s one.
Bad Day For: Thomas Christiansen. One game and one flaky afternoon at Millwall (let’s face it, most Leeds managers have had them) doesn’t detract from the work done by him so far. But United were caught cold by Millwall’s aggression, despite the predictability of it, and seemed incapable of finding an answer to Harris’ direct tactics.
Key Moment: O’Brien’s goal. Felix Wiedwald’s net lived a charmed life for 73 minutes but the pressure had to tell eventually and O’Brien wasn’t going to miss from such close range. Pontus Jansson’s late injury left Leeds short but United had not been threatening with 11 players, let alone 10.
Millwall: Archer, McLaughlin, Meredith, Hutchinson, Williams, Wallace (Tunnicliffe 90), Webster, O’Brien (Ferguson 81), Savile, Onyedinma (Cooper 90), Morison. Subs: Martin, Craig, Romeo, Twardek.
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Anita, O'Kane, Phillips, Alioski (Dallas 46), Saiz (Grot 71), Hernandez (Roofe 46), Lasogga. Subs: Lonergan, Berardi, Vieira, Cibicki.