Slaven Bilić’s men tasted defeat in the Sky Bet Championship for the first time this season as the Baggies’ nine game unbeaten run came to an end at Elland Road.
An Ezgjan Alioski strike across the face of goal which found the corner of the net before the break proved to be the difference in a fiery encounter at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
In the second half the Baggies had a host of chances, but fell short of the finishing touch to level the scores.
Slaven Bilić made one change from the side that beat Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, with Hal Robson-Kanu coming in for Charlie Austin to lead the line.
After a fast-paced opening passage to the game, Mateusz Klich had the first chance of the evening as he poked an effort towards the corner on the Albion goal, but Sam Johnstone got down well to push the ball to safety.
The hosts had much of the ball in the early stages, but the Throstles’ backline stood firm amongst the early pressure. A counter attack for the Baggies saw Grady Diangana, Matheus Pereira and Hal Robson-Kanu combine, with the latter firing a low shot but Kiko Casilla got down to save with relative ease.
The first battle wounds of an intense encounter at Elland Road saw Robson-Kanu, Kyle Bartley and Romaine Sawyers pick up yellow cards, while Alioski was also cautioned for the hosts and Leeds captain Liam Cooper had to be replaced by Gaetano Berardi after picking up an injury.
But it was the hosts who would open the scoring. An Albion spell of possession in the Leeds half allowed Marcelo Bielsa’s side to burst down the other end. Inside the Baggies’ box Alioski fired a low strike across the face of the goal and into the corner of the net.
Bilić’s Baggies came close to levelling the scores almost instantly. Pereira danced around a host of Leeds defenders, feigning his way deep into the opposition box before firing a side-footed effort which Casilla saved with his feet.
Just before the break, Johnstone made an excellent double save to keep the Baggies in the game. Bamford prodded goalwards after an effort from the edge of the box, but Albion’s ‘keeper clawed the ball away only for Helder Costa to follow up with a close range strike, which Johnstone somehow managed to get his body in the way of once more.
Bilić’s men came close to a leveller in the second half as Diangana won possession and slipped in Pereira. Albion’s Brazilian playmaker fizzed a teasing ball across the box which just needed tapping home, but the final touch just evaded Matt Phillips.
Albion came again. Fresh from his free-kick goal on Saturday at QPR, Pereira curled another set-piece from the edge of the box, but it went agonisingly wide of the post.
Still in search of an equaliser, Bilić launched Filip Krovinović and Kenneth Zohore into the action, with Phillips and Robson-Kanu making way.
It didn’t take long for Krovinović to get involved; Pereira slipped him past the Leeds backline, and he played the ball back to Diangana who teed up Pereira. The Brazilian playmaker unleashed a powerful curling effort, but Casilla made a brilliant diving save to deny the Baggies.
Late in the second half a Jack Harrison strike offered a rare chance for Leeds to extend their advantage, but Johnstone punched it to safety.
Zohore blazed an effort over the bar in the final moments, with another missed chance epitomising Albion’s night at Elland Road.
ALBION: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Ferguson; Livermore (Edwards 82), Sawyers; Phillips (Krovinović 62), Pereira, Diangana; Robson-Kanu (Zohore 62).
Substitutes: Bond, Townsend, O’Shea, Austin.