Millers slip to defeat......
Rotherham United failed to upset the odds as high-flying Leeds United ran out comfortable victors at Elland Road.
Both sides went into the White Rose clash with contrasting fortunes and the Millers’ hopes of a rare Sky Bet Championship victory on the road was undone early on when Patrick Bamford scored in dubious circumstances.
The game was over as a contest when Crysencio Summerville netted a brace at the start of the second half – with his second goal coming from the spot.
The Millers travelled to West Yorkshire on the back of a home reversal at the hands of Southampton last time out.
Head Coach Liam Richardson kept faith with the starting eleven, which lined up against the Saints. January deadline day signings Andy Rinomhota, Charlie Wyke and Femi Seriki were named on the visitors bench.
In front of a fervent home support, Rotherham forced a corner in the early exchanges and Hakeem Odoffin failed to make contact with Sam Clucas’ set piece before Illan Meslier was forced to punch clear Clucas’ follow-up cross.
Minutes later, Cafu’s slide-rule pass presented Peter Kioso with the chance to race away from Junior Firpo but his cross evaded the attentions of Jordan Hugill on the edge of the box.
In Leeds’ first opening, Bamford latched onto Georginio Rutter’s centre but his tame effort was comfortably gathered by Viktor Johansson.
Minutes later, Rutter glided away from a number of Rotherham challenges to present Bamford with the opportunity to strike but Seb Revan put in a timely block to deny him.
The home side had upped the tempo but they were the beneficiaries of a huge stroke of fortune when Bamford – who was in the thick of the early action – opened the scoring on 10 minutes in controversial circumstances.
Joe Rodon injected pace into a home move and Glen Kamara weighed up his options before finding the overlapping Firpo, whose first-time cross took a wicked deflection off skipper Sean Morrison and Bamford – who was just yards out – appeared to steer the ball past the attentions of Johansson with the unfair use of an arm.
Despite vehement protests from Rotherham players and coaching staff, neither the referee or the assistant referee had spotted the offence, and the goal was awarded.
Rotherham frustration boiled over when Hugill became the first to see yellow for a hefty touchline tackle on Rodon.
Peltier showed all his experience to divert Summerville’s dangerous cross to safety before Rutter embarked on another direct run which ended when he fired over from the edge of the box.
The hosts missed a gilt-edged chance to double their lead when Firpo nipped the pocket of Odoffin – who failed to get a foul – before finding Summerville, who looked set to make it two, but he spooned his effort over when he really should have done better.
Seconds later, Rutter beautifully got a long ball forward under his spell but Johansson was quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
There was more controversy near the break when Revan had a tussle with Wilfried Gnonto which started near the byline before carrying on as the Italian winger looked to burst into the box, and following another nibble or two, Revan put in a last-ditch tackle which stopped Gnonto in his tracks, and despite huge appeals and temporary cheers for a spot kick from the home fans, the referee pointed for a goal kick, after the initial confusion.
With half time approaching, Johansson was called into action by producing smart stops to deny firstly, Archie Gray, and then Gnonto.
Half-time: Leeds United 1 Rotherham United 0
There was a flurry of activity at the start of the second half and the home fans had their hearts in their mouths when Kamara over-hit a back pass which skimmed off the Elland Road surface, and Meslier was initially caught off-guard before getting a timely foot to the ball and sparing his colleague’s blushes.
The Millers were then indebted to the woodwork and some wasteful home finishing when Summerville found Bamford – with his back to goal – and the Leeds frontman dug out a shot which took a nick off Odoffin, as it smashed against the crossbar, and with Bamford denied on the follow-up, Gnonto fluffed his lines by blasting over from just yards out when it looked easier to score.
However, Rotherham failed to heed the warning as Leeds doubled their lead with 52 minutes on the clock.
Rutter pounced on possession and had the chance to advance before finding Summerville, who shrugged off the attentions of Peltier, before keeping his nerve to clip the ball past the advancing Johansson and find the heart of the Millers net.
The Millers were staring down the barrel of another away defeat, and it was as good as confirmed when Leeds added a third goal, just before the hour mark.
Gnonto darted towards the Rotherham box to find Summerville, who tried to work a shooting position before being pulled back by Kioso, and the referee pointed to the spot.
With the home crowd beckoning for Bamford to take the penalty, Summerville dusted himself down to take on the responsibility from 12 yards, and he rubbed salt into Millers wounds with an audacious Panenka penalty – and Johansson was helpless, as he had already committed to the dive, as the ball was clipped down the middle of the goal.
The Millers travelling contingent were given their first glimpse of Rinomhota, who was one of a trio of visiting substitutes, soon after, before Cameron Humphreys made a welcome return to the fray following a long standing hamstring injury.
Late on, the afternoon almost went from bad to worse for the Millers when Rutter took Peltier out of the game to find Gnonto, who had just Johansson to beat, but he dragged his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
To their credit, Rotherham refused to throw in the towel, and they came close to a consolation goal when firstly Odoffin rose highest to meet Clucas’ cross but Meslier was his equal with a fine save before the home stopper, denied Clucas’ himself, in the last noteworthy action of the game.
Full-time: Leeds United 3 Rotherham United 0
Leeds United 3
Rotherham United 0
Teams: Leeds- Meslier, Firpo (Byram 63), Ampadu, Kamara (Cresswell 84), Bamford (Joseph 75), Summerville (Piroe 63), Rodon, Gray, Rutter, Gnonto, Gruev (Roberts 75). Unused- Klaesson, Cooper, Anthony, Gelhardt.
Rotherham- Johansson, Cafu (Eaves 64), Clucas, Hugill (Rinomhota 64), Lindsay (Nombe 64), Peltier, Odoffin, Morrison (Humphreys 78), Tiehi (Rathbone 87), Revan, Kioso. Unused- Phillips, Wyke, Appiah, Seriki.
Referee- A Madley
Attendance- 35261 (611)