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Match Recap: Leeds United travel to Cardiff and look awful in 3-1 loss

Leeds drop out of first place with a thud as Cardiff beat 10-man Leeds

Cardiff City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Well, that sucked.

Leeds United traveled to Cardiff City for a mid-week match that promised to be a tough test for the league leaders, as the Welsh club was only behind Leeds on goal difference. And while Leeds fans would have found joy in beating Neil Warnock and his merry band of long-ball merchants, it was not to be, as a couple of rash challenges from Leeds captain Liam Cooper resulted in a red card and any hope of coming back from a 2-nil deficit. This is one match to forget.

In what should have been a sign of things to come, Jansson took a nasty shot in the head from Felix Wiedwald as the big German went for a punch to clear a Cardiff free-kick in the 6th minute.

Warnock took notes on how Ipswich Town and Millwall were able to break down Leeds by putting high pressure on the Leeds keeper, forcing Wiedwald to do long kicks instead of putting the ball on the ground and using the Whites ability to put the ball on the ground and move it around the pitch. Wiedwald, and by extension Leeds, aren’t as comfortable going long, and without Lasogga, Leeds weren’t going to be winning a lot of long balls over the top.

Early on, the match was predictably physical, with Cardiff knocking down and kicking Leeds players and a lot of Leeds players going down clutching legs and arms while Cardiff was able to put its will on the match.

Mateusz Klich turned the ball over in his own half and Cardiff turned on the afterburners to break free, with Zohore getting free in the Leeds box to turn in the pass from Junior Hoilett. Leeds looked poor from a free kick that was finally given for a Cardiff foul outside the box, but it was wasted after Pablo Hernandez hit the ball into space, miles away from the boys in the White shirts.

And the wheels started to come off in the 37th minute. Junior Hoilett ended up with the ball after a long ball over the top from Cardiff and after he was given some time and space on the ball, he ripped a shot towards the net and it ended up in the back of the net, giving Wiedwald no chance to save it. Cooper might have done better to close down Hoilett, but the ball should have been won better by Leeds.

And as if to make up for the lack of challenge earlier, Liam Cooper threw himself into a bad challenge, leaving his feet and showing his studs outside the Leeds box, resulting in a yellow card in the 39th minute. Leeds again struggled to maintain the ball as Cardiff continued to attack and a lack of coherence from the Leeds players made their efforts to get back into the match even harder.

Cooper gave the ref no choice, as he shoulder barged into a Cardiff player heading down the pitch, making zero attempt to play the ball and sending the Cardiff player into touch. And honestly, Leeds having its captain taken off for a second yellow in about seven minutes because of two rash, unnecessary challenges pretty much summed up the first half for Leeds.

The lack of Samu Saiz and Pierre-Michel Lasogga seems ever stranger with Eunan O’Kane missing the match with illness, and the lack of creativity showed in the first half as Leeds were often pinned in their own half far too often and while it was predictable that the match would be physical, it seemed to frustrate the team. Matthew Pennington made his return to the squad for Pablo Hernandez at half-time.

Leeds tried to get back into the match in the first part of the second half, with Gaetano Berardi barreling into the Cardiff box, but the chance went wasted. Roofe also had a shot on goal in the 56th minute that forced the Cardiff keeper to make a save.

And although it appeared that Zohore was miles offsides, Leeds still failed to defend well and gave up a third goal. Leeds had started to look better, but Cardiff punished them as they sat back and waited for the counter with superior numbers.

Kemar Roofe grabbed a goal back in the 67th minute after Jay Roy Grot had come on for Gjanni Alioski in the 63rd minute. Ronaldo Vieira came on in the 68th minute for Mateusz Klich for the final change for Leeds.

Late in the match, despite the early good pressure from Leeds, Cardiff started to put the game away. Cardiff got a few shots away at the Leeds net, but nothing was very threatening. Pennington made a good tackle to deny Ward, but with Leeds chasing the match down a man, there wasn’t a lot that the Leeds players could do to get back into the match while Cardiff worked hard to retain possession and starve off any Leeds attacking intentions.

So Leeds went out and laid an egg, with very little going right for the club at all. While it might be cathartic to rant about how poor the team was, it’s not going to change the result.

Leeds looked bad, and Cardiff made them pay a number of times. A totally dismal performance for the Whites, with Liam Cooper’s ridiculously timed challenges just putting a shine on the, er, crappy performance.

On to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.