Leeds United made a winning start to the new year as they put three goals past Rotherham United at Elland Road.
Kyle Bartley opened the scoring the home side before Chris Wood scored two goals to give Leeds the perfect start to 2017.
Garry Monk made three changes to the side that drew at Villa Park. Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips made way for the returning Bartley, Wood and Pablo Hernandez.
Monk’s decision to change formation to 4-4-2 was questioned by some before the game and during it. Liam Bridcutt was being left by himself as Hernandez ran forward leaving gaps across the Leeds midfield.
Bridcutt fouled Izzy Brown on the edge of penalty area just after four minutes and Rob Green was forced into his first save of the game from the resulting free kick. Former Leeds man Tom Adayemi then hit post from the follow up to Green’s save.
Leeds went close after 18 minutes, Bartley’s cross-field ball sent Soulaymane Doukara down the left and the forward cut inside and teed up Hernandez who’s effort narrowly went wide of the far post.
The best chance of the first half fell to Brown who went close for The Millers 10 minutes before half time but his first time effort from eight yards out went over the top of Green’s goal. Summing up a frustrating half for both sides.
Rotherham almost took the lead moments before the half time whistle, Bartley was to the rescue as he headed the ball out for a corner from more or less underneath his own crossbar with Craig Broadfoot waiting to head the ball home for the visitors.
Monk reverted back to the usual 4-2-3-1 formation at half time as Ronaldo Viera replaced Hadi Sacko, allowing Hernandez to play in his free role just behind Chris Wood.
Leeds were ahead minutes after the restart, Hernandez’s corner was headed in at the far post by Bartley for his fourth goal of the season. Pontus Jansson was injured in the process but soon got up after the goal celebrations.
Wood almost doubled Leeds’ lead in the 56th minute as Hernandez sent Kemar Roofe down the right hand side and the forwards fizzing cross was inches away from the incoming Wood’s right foot.
The New Zealand striker had Leeds ahead 10 minutes later. Wood brought down Bridcutt’s chipped cross with his chest while under pressure and superbly half volleyed Leeds into a two-nil lead.
Gaetano Berardi nearly tabbed a third for the Whites after a quick exchange with Wood on the edge of the Rotherham penalty area. The full back rushed through on rushing defenders but his prodded crashed off the post.
Leeds grabbed a third seconds after. Roofe provided from the right as he hammered a low cross into Wood who turned in for his second of the game.
Hernandez went agonisingly close to making it four with one minute of normally time but his low free kick from just outside the penalty area hit the far post.
The win keeps Leeds in fifth following Reading’s turn around at Bristol City and Huddersfield’s late winner but the win also created some daylight between the chasing pack as Derby lost away at Norwich.
Man of the match- Kyle Bartley
Reporter- Matthew Beedle