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Leeds United defeat Blackburn Rovers, again, this time to advance in the EFL Cup

It's Tuesday night and Leeds have beaten Blackburn Rovers. Sound familiar? For the second week in a row, Leeds have overcome the Lancashire side to make it three straight wins for Garry Monk's ever-improving team.

A beautiful night at Elland Road saw Leeds advance in the EFL Cup.
A beautiful night at Elland Road saw Leeds advance in the EFL Cup.
James Mahoney

Again, it wasn't pretty (though James' view for the tie was nice). Again, a late header was the difference. And again, Leeds topped Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road. Chris Wood stepped off the bench with 20 minutes remaining to grab the winner for Leeds in what was a game of few clear-cut chances. The goal was enough to see Leeds through to the fourth round of this season's EFL Cup, picking up their third straight win in all competitions. The fourth round draw is Wednesday night.

Wood needed two attempts to convert the hopeful ball in from Kemar Roofe, after his initial contact was parried right back to him by Rovers stopper David Raya. Wood met the rebound cleanly enough to send a looping header over the scrambling keeper for the game's lone goal.

Monk opts for changes once again

While it wasn't quite on the same level that we saw for Luton Town in the previous round, the manager chose to rest several first-team players from the win over Cardiff at the weekend.

Seven changes in total saw Liam Cooper come in for the ill Pontus Jansson, while Marco Silvestri again filled the role of the 'cup keeper', replacing Rob Green. Charlie Taylor, Ronaldo Vieira, Kyle Bartley and Eunan O'Kane were the only ones to repeat from Saturday's win, and they'll need to rest up quickly to be ready for Ipswich on Saturday.

Youngster Lewie Coyle, deputising for Luke Ayling at right-back got the game off to a lively start, as he saw his goal-bound volley tipped away by Raya inside the first minute.

The majority of the half saw chances at both ends, as Stephen Hendrie should have put the visitors ahead on the quarter-hour mark, instead drilling his shot just wide of Silvestri's post after the Leeds defence failed to clear a cross.

Leeds grew into the game as the half progressed, but struggled to carve out any real chances. Kemar Roofe had a sniff of goal just before the interval, though his shot from outside the box went comfortably wide of the Blackburn goal.

The sides went into the break at 0-0, although on a different night, the score could have read different with no side really deserving to be in front.

Time to force the issue

There is no doubt Leeds were the better of the two sides heading into this fixture, and Monk must have done his best to reiterate that at half-time. United came out the stronger side and controlled the opening portion of the half, although again not quite finding the cutting edge.

Ronaldo Vieira was unable to continue after going down injured, paving the way for Pablo Hernandez to come on and give United the spark and creativity they needed. Ten minutes after coming on, Hernandez carved open the Blackburn defence out on the flank and picked out O'Kane in the middle, who saw his effort blocked and eventually cleared.

A chance at the other end saw Silvestri make a double save to keep the scores level, prompting the introduction of Chris Wood.

Although both teams were looking to avoid extra time, it was Leeds who decided to go up through the gears. A curling Hernandez free-kick was tipped around the post forcing a United corner.

With the game then looking to be heading for an extra session, a Hernandez effort fell to Roofe, who picked out Wood in the middle to finish at the second time of asking.

A Roofe effort could have sealed things, before Blackburn's Marvin Emnes missed a glorious chance to draw level in the 93rd minute after failing to steady himself, and the match ended 1-0 for the home side.

Important win for Monk

Every game is a big game at the moment. The win at Cardiff shifted a rather unnecessary weight off of Garry Monk's shoulders, but this win will solidify that he really does mean business.

Had United gone out tonight, we would have experienced once again how much damage just one defeat can do off the field.

Now that the competition is entering the mid-to-late stages, Monk will be eager to push on and get as far as we can. A positive cup run is of course a good thing for the club, provided it doesn't distract from the league effort. The two campaigns seem to be feeding off of one another at the moment, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Perhaps the most important factor in tonight's victory was the clean sheet - the second in a row. Leeds have only conceded one goal in the last three games; a stat we are not used to reading. The introduction of Pontus Jansson has undoubtedly made a difference to the confidence across the whole of the defence, but Liam Cooper covered his absence tonight with no real trouble at all.

The defence seems an awful lot calmer all of a sudden, highlighted by the relative 'at ease' look once going 1-0 up in Cardiff. Normally we wait to concede, instead of looking to kill the game off.

Assured, collected, organised - that's more like it.

We must not forget that the last two wins have been without new captain Liam Bridcutt, who will provide more steel in the midfield once he is fully fit.

Eunan O'Kane may turn out to be the Leeds N'Golo Kante this season. The Irishman goes about his business quietly and efficiently, proving so far to be just the signing that Garry Monk needed.

Monk has also voiced his confidence and faith in the strikers in recent weeks and Chris Wood is certainly repaying the belief put in him. I believe there is still more to come from the Kiwi and no doubt the recent run of goals will help his confidence. We may soon start seeing him bury those decent chances that come his way.

For the second game in a row, Wood has come off the bench to score. This could prove an issue for Monk, as it will become more difficult to leave him out of the XI, but yet he seemingly isn't as effective when he starts. That could be an interesting storyline moving forward.

Perhaps the most pleasing thing about the recent turn in performances is that Monk appears to have found his groove and philosophy, giving Leeds United an identity. Reverting back to his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, Monk has also inspired efforts from the lads on match day. This has them clicking as we all desperately wanted to see in August.

As long as Monk can keep instilling his belief in the players, keep confidence high and everybody fit, there is no reason why Leeds can't build on this impressive spell and get the three points at home to the Tractor Boys on Saturday.

A win will see us start to accelerate up the table, where we should rightfully be. MOT.