It was 1-1 when shortly after half-time Mark Viduka missed when clean through, and almost immediately after Liverpool were allowed a second goal when Paul Robinson made a mess of Danny Murphy's free-kick.
It was Harry Kewell's first game against his former club and with Michael Owen back from injury the Liverpool side looked good on paper, but with Leeds desperately needing the win they gave another spirited display.
By the 18th minute Liverpool could have been three goals up with chances for Vladimir Smicer, John Arne Riise and Kewell.
But Leeds fought back with an effort from Mark Viduka just going wide of the post. Kewell showed his old fans what they were missing as he laid on a fantastic cross into the penalty box for Emile Heskey, but the chance was easily saved by keeper Robinson.
In the 22nd minute Leeds retaliated with a cross by James Milner sweeping across the face of the goal but Viduka's turn and shot on goal went wide.
Owen then scored his eighth goal in seven games after 36 minutes play. Igor Biscan floated a pass to the right and Riise did well in heading back towards Owen, who allowed the ball to sit up before hooking it into the top corner of the net.
Revelling in their one-goal advantage the Liverpool defence opened up giving Leeds a chance on goal. Jermaine Pennant, previously anonymous, twisted away and skinned Riise for dead before delivering a low cross that Smith poked home. His first goal since scoring at Spurs in August and his half-century for Leeds.
The second half started as quickly as the first.
Old warhorse David Batty was making life uncomfortable for the Liverpool midfield. Earlier on he whacked Vladimir Smicer, who made way for Murphy 5 minutes into the 2nd half.
Then the two crucial turning points in the game. Liverpool were just sorting their new midfield when Leeds broke in numbers with a glorious chance to take the lead, Seth Johnson sending Viduka through only to hit Jerzy Dudek's knees in the process.
Then a harmless Liverpool free-kick from Murphy was fumbled by Robinson and squeezed into the back of the net, with three players clearly in an offside position. The assistant waived his flag. After consoltation with referee Winter the goal was allowed to stand.
The ball flew quickly from one end of the pitch to the other, with both teams pushing forward for the crucial fourth goal of the game.
Three substitutes for Leeds inside ten minutes failed to have any impact.
Bookings for heavy tackles by Batty and Dominic Matteo reflected the annoyance of Leeds. The fourth goal did arrive five minutes from the end courtesy of another substitute. Dudek's long clearance was flicked on by Heskey and Sinama-Pongolle ran on to snatch his first senior goal.
3-1 flattered Liverpool.