Leeds United 2 Millwall 0

Last updated : 31 March 2024 By Ross Heppenstall

Tasting the rarefied air at the summit of the Championship for the first time this season will not be enough for Leeds United.

They want more and for boss Daniel Farke and his players, not to mention an expectant crowd, that means clinching an instant return to the Premier League and, perhaps, the title too.

It will take some doing, but this latest success further encouraged hopes that automatic promotion is well within sight.

It has taken Leeds 38 games to manoeuvre themselves into top spot, but this comfortable win over a dogged Millwall side finally unseated Leicester.

The Foxes were 17 points ahead of Leeds in late December, but have wobbled, winning just one of their last five. Farke’s side have now drawn level, albeit from a game more.

Where Enzo Maresca’s side have faltered, Leeds are now unbeaten in 13 league outings since the turn of the year.

That rich run of form has harvested 12 wins and seen them concede just three goals. It is proving quite some charge by Farke’s men.

Millwall, resurgent under Neil Harris having taken 10 points from their previous four games following his return to the club, battled gamely. In the end, though, class told as Willy Gnonto struck a sensational first-half opener before substitute Dan James added a late second.

While Farke’s men did enough to grind out another three points, this was no vintage display. Then again, it did not need to be.

The German boss said: ‘I’m pretty proud of the boys because it was a different challenge. It’s difficult to create chances against Millwall and important not to give anything away, so it was a mature performance.

‘I’m really happy with a priceless three points and I’m going to enjoy it a little bit. If you don’t you’ll ask yourself one day why you’re doing all this hard work.

‘It’s important to stay on it. We want to be in a good position after 46 games, so we need to win lots more points.’

Do not underestimate the job Farke has performed in steadying the ship at Elland Road and fashioning Leeds into a formidable Championship outfit.

When he arrived last summer, turmoil was everywhere after the wreckage caused by relegation, players jumping ship and a change of ownership.

Farke guided Norwich to promotion from this division as title winners twice. He knows what it takes to escape and has fashioned a strong collective spirit among his talented young squad.

Millwall made life hard for long periods, though, and their physical approach made for a feisty affair, with four visiting players booked and three from Leeds.

Half-chances came and went for Leeds before Gnonto’s 33rd-minute opener.

Georginio Rutter found the Italian and he created the space to unleash a powerful left-foot shot from 20 yards which flew into the corner of the net.

The hosts also had two first-half penalty appeals turned down and Crysencio Summerville hit a curling right-foot shot from 20 yards which forced a fine save from Matija Sarkic.

Leeds continued to hold the upper hand and almost had a second in the 66th minute.

Junior Firpo crossed from the left flank and Rutter’s right-foot effort drew a smart save from Sarkic before his follow-up struck a post.

But the goal they needed to go top finally came 11 minutes from time when Rutter found James unmarked. The substitute steadied himself before firing a low, right-foot shot which sent Elland Road wild.

Harris said: ‘Leeds deserved to win the game and there was no debating that, but some elements of our performance were very good.

‘Leeds are a Premier League club in waiting who should be in the Premier League.

‘They have got the resources to do it and they will get there, in my opinion.’

It should be some scrap, but this latest win added to the feeling that a united Leeds could not be timing their run for the finishing line any better.

Sky Bet Championship

Leeds United 2 (Gnonto 33’, James 79’)

Millwall 0

Leeds: Meslier (GK), Firpo, Ampadu (C), Kamara (Roberts 90’), Bamford (Joseph 90’), Summerville (Anthony 74’), Rodon, Gray, Georginio (Piroe 90’), Gnonto (James 69’), Gruev. Subs not used: Darlow (GK), Cresswell, Cooper, Byram.

Millwall: Sarkic (GK), Cooper (C), Tanganga, Mitchell (McNamara 62’), Flemming, Bryan, Norton-Cuffy (Longman 62’), Leonard (Watmore 62’), Obafemi, Saville, Honeyman (de Norre 62’). Subs not used: Bialkowski (GK), Wallace, Hutchinson, Mayor, Essex. 

Referee: Stephen Martin

Booked: Gnonto, Firpo, Gruev (Leeds) Cooper, Flemming, Leonard, Honeyman (Millwall) 

Venue: Elland Road

Attendance: 34,813