United suffer 3-0 defeat at Elland Road...
UNITED 0, BLACKBURN 3 (Cairney 62, Rhodes 69, Spearing 80).
United: Silvestri, Wootton (Antenucci 66), Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi (Cooper 66), C Taylor, Murphy, Mowatt, Austin, Byram, Morison (Sharp 86). Subs. S Taylor, Phillips, Dawson, Doukara, Antenucci.
Blackburn: Raya, Henley (Taylor 59), Baptiste, Kilgallon, Olsson, Cairney, Spearing, Williamson, Marshall, Rhodes, Gestede (Brown 65, (O'Sullivan 81)). Subs. Steele, Spurr, Lenihan, Evans.
Referee: G Sutton
Booked: Antenucci, Murphy, Taylor (United), Henley, Taylor (Blackburn)
Sent Off: Austin (United)
Att: 25,293 (736 Blackburn)
Blackburn Rovers were the visitors at Elland Road following a two-week international break, and United head coach Neil Redfearn made two changes from last time out at Blackpool as Rodolph Austin returned in place of the injured Lewis Cook, while Steve Morison replaced Billy Sharp in attack.
Ahead of kick-off, both sets of supporters impeccably observed a minute’s silence in tribute to Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, 15 years on from their tragic passing. Floral wreaths were laid in the centre circle, while fans held aloft banners to show that the pair will never be forgotten.
The game got underway at an emotional Elland Road it was United who looked to set the pace in the early stages as Redfearn’s side began on the front foot. Morison and Austin were just unable to combine inside the area before the first sight of goal fell to Charlie Taylor on seven minutes, but his low effort was held by goalkeeper David Raya.
However, the biggest chance of the opening exchanges fell to the visitors as Jordan Rhodes was slotted through into the area, only for a superb recovering lunge from Sol Bamba to divert the ball up and onto the crossbar before Ben Marshall drilled the rebound into the side-netting.
Rhodes then smashed a volley over from close-range before United’s clearest opening fell to Austin after 25 minutes. A pin-point left-wing cross from Taylor found the midfielder bursting into the area, unmarked, but he could only turn his header into the South Stand behind Raya's goal.
The intent of both sides was clear to see and Blackburn’s Rudy Gestede was inches away from meeting Tom Cairney’s inviting cross with a flying header. At the opposite end, Leeds looked a threat down the left through Taylor and Gaetano Berardi, with the latter’s low strike from range rolling into the arms of Raya.
Blackburn then had United Academy graduate Matthew Kilgallon to thank as he was in the right place at the right time to block another Thorp Arch product, Sam Byram, from finding the net with a ferocious volley from Austin’s floated cross.
Redfearn’s men were enjoying a good spell of pressure in front of goal, but the size of their task suddenly increased as Austin was shown a straight red card by referee Gary Sutton after an off-the-ball incident on 39 minutes.
The game remained goalless at half-time and it was Blackburn who started the second half the liveliest after the two unchanged teams had re-emerged.
Marco Silvestri was called into action within three minutes of the restart, getting down well to his right to push away Gestede’s low strike from inside the area, before Bamba stood firm to block the path of Rhodes.
Sam Byram looped a towering header over Raya’s bar, but Blackburn eventually found a way through on 62 minutes through Tom Cairney who rifled into Silvestri’s bottom corner after the ball had fallen kindly for him inside the area.
The visitors were making the most of their one-man advantage and Marshall found space to drive forward before rattling the woodwork with a ferocious 25-yard effort.
Redfearn looked to act quick, replacing Berardi and Scott Wootton with Mirco Antenucci and Liam Cooper after 66 minutes, as he urged his side forward in search of an equaliser.
But, just three minutes later, Blackburn’s lead was doubled as Rhodes was found inside the area to guide a diving header beyond Silvestri.
And things would get worse for United as Rovers went on to add a third through Jay Spearing, tapping home from close-range after being found unmarked at the back post by Cairney.
Rhodes smashed the post deep into stoppage time, but Spearing's effort ended had ended the game as a contest, making it an afternoon to forget for those in white shirts as United fell to a first defeat in six games.