Pontus Jansson drew a line under Leeds United’s FA Cup exit and snatched a priceless 2-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers, leaving a relieved Garry Monk to admit: “It wasn’t our best performance but it was a winning performance.”
Monk conceded that Leeds were “lucky” to leave Ewood Park with three points but paid tribute to his players’ persistence after Jansson’s 88th-minute header beat troubled Blackburn in a flurry of late goals.
The centre-back nodded home a Pablo Hernandez corner five minutes after Elliott Bennett equalised for Blackburn, breaking Rovers’ resistance at the end of a scrappy Championship game.
Stuart Dallas had earlier opened the scoring with his first league goal of the season, a brilliant strike on 75 minutes which set the match alight.
The victory moved Leeds on from Sunday’s humiliating FA Cup defeat to Sutton United and lifted Monk’s squad back to fourth in the table ahead of an enticing derby at fifth-placed Huddersfield Town this weekend.
Monk said: “It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination. It was a bit of a grind.
“But I said to the players afterwards, there are situations you’ll face throughout the season, six or seven games where you can’t be at your best, and you have to make sure you find a way to win. We stayed strong when it was difficult for us and in the crucial moments we scored two good goals.
“Yes, we were a bit lucky to come away with the three points. A draw would maybe have been a fair result. But the mentality and the character is what I was pleased with. We know we’re going to play better than this but it was important that we showed another side. For me that’s a good sign.”
Monk came in for criticism on Sunday after his decision to field a heavily weakened line-up saw Sutton knock Leeds out of the FA Cup’s fourth round, one of only two defeats suffered by United against non-league opposition.
Monk said: “That’s for me to take. I make the decisions and when we suffer we all suffer. That goes for the whole group. We wanted to try and make amends with three points here.
“It maybe wasn’t our best performance but it was a winning performance and hopefully that goes some way for the fans (at Sutton).”
He added: “I live and die by my decisions but I’m trying to bring belief and character to this club. If that means I sometimes have to suffer a negative reaction then I’ll take it.”