LEEDS United’s 100 per cent record was ended by Blackburn at Elland Road, but they put up a fantastic fight to earn a draw after trailing 2-0 in the first half-hour.
So good was the Whites’ comeback that they went 3-2 up by the 66th minute only to concede a controversial late equaliser and in the end they could count themselves unlucky not to get all three points.
Blackburn were a class apart initially as they played some cultured attacking football and opened up a two-goal lead with identically made goals.
With El Hadji Diouf caught out defensively down the flank speedy left-back Markus Olsson got in behind and fired an angled shot past Paddy Kenny for the opener on 19 minutes. Eight minutes later he was free again and this time his low cross was put away by former Portuguese international Nuno Gomes.
It was no more than Rovers deserved after Morten Pedersen and Gomes saw shots saved by Kenny, Gomes volleyed wide and Pedersen’s corner clipped the crossbar.
In the first half-hour Leeds’ only real response was a Rodolph Austin shot from range that was saved by former Leeds keeper Paul Robinson. But it all changed towards the end of the half with the crowd and players pumped up following a big penalty shout turned down when Ross McCormack went down in the box.
United pulled a goal back on 41 minutes when Robinson failed to deal with David Norris’s high ball and Diouf pounced to force the ball home following a six-yard box scramble.
Robinson was soon called into action again to tip over a Diouf header and half-time came with renewed hope for the Whites.
Blackburn came in for a real aerial bombardment early in the second half and were lucky to stay in front as Jason Pearce headed a good chance over and Luke Varney saw a goalbound shot blocked.
Danny Murphy went close with a shot from the edge of the box as the visitors showed they still has some attacking capability, but they were soon back pedalling again and Leeds were level on 56 minutes as Becchio got away with a little nudge and Adam Drury’s long ball was latched onto by McCormack who finished emphatically past Robinson.
United now threatened to run riot as Austin sent a header just wide and Becchio saw a header cleared off the line by Murphy with the keeper well beaten. It was no surprise when they went in front as Becchio was left unmarked at the far post to head home after Diouf’s cross had not been dealt by the Rovers defence on 66 minutes.
Fans were celebrating soon after when Pearce headed the ball into the net from a McCormack free-kick, but the joy was shortlived as referee Neil Swarbrick controversially spotted a push by the home defender.
Leeds continued to pour forward and McCormack saw a shot well saved before Diouf headed wide a good chance from another McCormack free-kick wide.
But there was a sting in the tail and more controversy as Blackburn were wrongly awarded a free-kick, from it won a corner and then equalised through substitute Ruben Rochina’s finish from close range.
With five minutes injury-time there was time for more drama as Blackburn survived a handball appeal against Murphy as he blocked McCormack’s shot then as the game switched to the other end Dickson Etuhu got free in the box only to shoot over.
There seemed to be one final twist in the very last minute when comical defending left Diouf with only Robinson to beat, but he somehow fired over. An amazing end to an amazing game.
Leeds United 3
(Diouf 41, McCormack 56, Becchio 66)
Blackburn Rovers 3
(Olsson 19, Gomes 27, Rochina 84)
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Leeds: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Drury, Diouf, Austin, Norris, Varney (Byram 90), McCormack, Becchio.
Blackburn: Robinson, Ribero, Dann (Hanley 10), Givet, Olsson, Formica (Lowe 55), Murphy, Etuhu, Pedersen, Gomes (Rochina 75), Rhodes.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.