Leeds United 3 Millwall 4: Ten-man Whites beaten in extraordinary Elland Road thriller
LEEDS UNITED were condemned to the cruellest of defeats after Millwall scored twice late on to settle one of the most extraordinary games ever seen at Elland Road.
United were on the verge of a brilliant 3-2 victory after recovering from a 2-0 half-time deficit and the dismissal of Liam Cooper but Millwall came through dramatic pressure from Thomas Christiansen’s side to silence a euphoric crowd in the final minutes.
Tom Elliott, United’s former academy player who made his debut for the club as a schoolboy in 2007, struck on the turn on 87 minutes to level the match at 3-3 and as Leeds began to tire, Jed Wallace smashed in a deflected winner and left Christiansen’s side on their knees in the second minute of injury time.
United had earlier been staring at defeat after Aiden O'Brien and Lee Gregory scored either side of Cooper's 37th-minute red card but a second-half brace from Pierre-Michel Lasogga and a tap-in from Kemar Roofe turned the game on its head as a stunned Millwall side choked.
Lasogga kept the game alive by striking within 60 seconds of the restart and Roofe was on hand to equalise after Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer allowed a Laurens De Bock cross to slip from his grasp.
United sensed then that they had Millwall in trouble and Lasogga completed a sensational turnaround by driving in a 25-yard shot on 62 minutes but the visitors raised themselves at the death to force an unlikely win and their first at Elland Road since 2010.
Cooper was ordered from the field for a late tackle on George Saville, sparking a brawl between the two benches which saw both United and Millwall's assistant managers sent to the stands.
Prior to that moment, O'Brien struck with a header on 18 minutes and Gregory pounced from close-range three minutes before the break as Leeds threatened to implode.
Millwall were able to exploit a lack of organisation within United's defence from the start and they were almost ahead with 10 seconds on the clock as an immediate attack saw Steve Morison lay the ball off to O’Brien whose goalbound shot was parried by Felix Wiedwald.
It was indicative of a fast start in which both sides went at each other. Ronaldo Vieira - recalled after a four game absence through injury - cleared a Gregory header off his line as Leeds defended a free-kick but Lasogga failed to draw first blood from a great position on eight minutes.
The striker was picked out by Pablo Hernandez in an unmarked position as Millwall looked for an offside flag which never came. Lasogga had only Jordan Archer to beat from six yards but nodded a header straight into the goalkeeper’s grasp.
Lasogga was making his first league start since early November having struggled with form and injury since then and his finishing let him down again five minutes later. Kalvin Phillips stole possession with a tackle on the edge of the box and played Lasogga in but Archer rushed out to block his low shot with his legs.
Millwall took advantage quickly, though only after Jed Wallace had seen a 17th-minute strike controversially ruled out for offside, apparently against Morison. As Millwall came forward again, Morison crossed from the right and O'Brien stole in behind Berardi to head inside Wiedwald's near post.
Lee Gregory had come within inches of finding Wiedwald's net prior to those opportunities and Thomas Christiansen looked on as his side toiled at the back. Shaun Hutchinson struck the crossbar with a header on 34 minutes as Leeds struggled to see off a corner.
Cooper then drew a red card for a sliding foul on Saville and before Christiansen could throw on substitute Matthew Pennington for Vieira, Gregory arrived with perfect timing to bundle in another Morison cross.
Leeds were desperate for inspiration and it came in the first minute of the second half as Roofe pounced on a mistake by Shaun Williams and squared for Lasogga who smashed a clean finish into the net.
The quick reply wobbled the visitors and amid much disbelief, Leeds were level on 55 minutes. Archer failed to hold a bouncing cross from new United signing De Bock and as Millwall scrambled desperately to hack the ball away, Roofe popped up in a mass of bodies to poke a tap-in over the line.
Elland Road smelled blood and Millwall caved in. On 62 minutes, Gjanni Alioski countered from a corner and Hernandez’s pass was driven into the far corner with perfect accuracy by Lasogga, atoning dramatically for his earlier misses.
Two Millwall substitutions followed as manager Neil Harris tried desperately to reverse the flow of a match which his side had won at the break and after Christiansen withdrew Lasogga, Elliott finally broke Leeds’ resistance with an 87th-minute finish inside the box.
And when United substitute Stuart Dallas lost possession from a throw in, Millwall tore forward and kicked Leeds in the teeth with a deflected shot from Wallace which gave Wiedwald no chance.
Leeds United: Wiedwald, Berardi, Jansson, Cooper, De Bock, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski, Hernandez, Roofe (Dallas 74), Lasogga (Shaughnessy 82). Subs: Lonergan, Anita, Sacko, Cibicki.
Millwall: Archer, McLaughlin (Romeo 81), Cooper, Hutchinson, Meredith (Elliott 74), Saville, O’Brien (Ferguson 63), Williams, Wallace, Morison, Gregory. Subs: Martin, Craig, Tunnicliffe, Thompson.
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)