LEEDS United bagged their eighth win from their last ten league games as former striker Jermaine Beckford saw red in a remarkable and breathless 4-1 triumph at Boxing Day’s Championship hosts Preston North End.
After Kemar Roofe had headed the Whites into a 17th-minute lead, Hadi Sacko doubled the Leeds advantage with a clinical second goal just six minutes later.
Preston immediately hit back to reduce the deficit through Marnick Vermijl four minutes afterwards but United restored their two goal cushion within just four minutes when a low shot from Souleymane Doukara beat ‘keeper Chris Maxwell and trickled over the line.
There was then further drama after the break as Preston’s Beckford was shown a straight red card against his former side just three minutes after coming on for kicking out at Kyle Bartley.
Preston were left with an impossible task and United put the gloss on a truly memorable away day when substitute Pablo Hernandez fired home with two minutes left.
Ironically, a whirlwind contest passed without a single chance being created in the first 15 minutes.
But two minutes later United took a 17th-minute lead after Preston conceded a free-kick on the right hand touch line.
Stuart Dallas stepped up to deliver an inviting delivery which was met by Pontus Jansson whose header looped over ‘keeper Maxwell and found Roofe who had the easy task of nodding home into an empty net.
A stunned Preston looked to immediately rally and an effort from Callum Robinson had to be dealt with by Whites custodian Rob Green.
But just five minutes later Preston ‘keeper Maxwell was picking the ball out of his net for a second time after Sacko’s 23rd minute effort doubled United’s lead.
A superb through ball from Roofe found Sacko with acres of space in the Preston area and the winger killed North End for pace before producing a strong rising finish into the roof of the net.
For Leeds, Christmas had been extended by an extra day but Preston then hit back to net the game’s third goal just three minutes later.
A cross into a crowded United area was knocked down by Makienok to Vermijl who blasted the ball past a helpless Green from close range.
But incredibly Leeds then hit straight back to bag a sensational game’s fourth goal just another four minutes later.
This time it was Doukara getting on the act as the striker broke away down the left side and unleashed a low effort at Maxwell who should have saved the shot but allowed the ball to creep under him and trickle over the goalline.
There was barely time to pause for breath and Preston threatened to bag the game’s fifth goal seven minutes before the break but instead Daniel Johnson fired a wild effort over the bar.
A header from Makienok then trickled wide before Kalvin Phillips picked up the game’s first booking for a late challenge but Preston wasted the free kick as Vermijl sliced an effort wide.
And it was Leeds who should have netted the game’s fifth goal in the second minute of first half injury time when Liam Bridcutt stormed his way to the edge of the Preston box before feeding Roofe who put too much lift on his shot and blazed over.
Preston then came flying out of the traps after the break and Leeds survived claims for a North End penalty for Roofe handballing.
Roofe then blocked a dangerous low effort from Ben Pearson before Kyle Bartley became the second Leeds player to be booked for a sliding foul.
Whites head coach Garry Monk then made his first change in bringing on Pablo Hernandez for Sacko, nine minutes after the restart.
But Preston continued to bombard the Whites goal and Green had to produce a brave save at the feet of Alan Browne before Callum Robinson fired another effort just wide on the hour mark.
Preston’s Beckford then entered the fray six minutes later as part of a double Lilywhites change, with the striker given a heroic welcome by the away end against his former side.
But within four minutes of coming on Beckford was sent off after colliding with Luke Ayling and then kicking out at Bartley with raised studs.
Preston’s task now looked hopeless, especially with Monk bringing on top scorer Chris Wood for Doukara with 15 minutes left, shortly after Roofe had blazed a powerful effort narrowly over the bar.
But Leeds always looked likely to bag a fourth and did exactly that with two minutes left when Hernandez was afforded far too much space in the Preston box and kept his head before slotting home from close range.
Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Phillips, Bridcutt, Sacko (Hernandez 54), Roofe (Antonsson 80), Dallas, Doukara (Wood 75). Subs not used: Silvestri, Denton, Cooper, Vieira.
Preston North End: Maxwell, Baptiste, Clarke (c), Huntington, Cunningham, Vermijl, Pearson, Browne, Johnson (Doyle 75), Robinson (Beckford 66). Makienok (Hugill 66). Subs not used: Lindegaard, Wright, Spurr, Pringle.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson.
Have you downloaded the free YEP app available on Android and iphone?