Millar nets late winner as Preston beat 10-man Leeds

Preston North End finished triumphant over Leeds United in a dramatic but ill-tempered Boxing Day tussle.

Liam Millar struck a magnificent winning goal in the 89th minute – but only after the second-half sending-off of Leeds keeper Illan Meslier.

The key moment of the match came eight minutes into the second half when Meslier was red-carded after being goaded by Preston’s players into retaliation.

After eyeballing Ben Whiteman as they went head to head, Meslier was then also shoved by Milutin Osmajic – but, in a fit of pique, the Frenchman responded by shoving the man from Montenegro in the face.

Osmajic, who was booked for his part in the fracas, made the most of it as he dramatically fell to earth clutching his face – but it was inevitable that Meslier would be sent off.

Four minutes later, with Leeds reserve keeper Karl Darlow on for sacrificed outfield player Joel Piroe, North End cashed in on their one-man advantage.

Millar was allowed to cut in and curl in a right-footed cross, headed home by Alan Browne for his fifth goal of the season.

Leeds then levelled on 83 minutes when Ali McCann was adjudged to have brought down a diving Dan James in the penalty area and Leeds captain Pascal Struijk sent home keeper Freddie Woodman the wrong way from the spot.

But Millar went up the other end six minutes later to win it, receiving the ball wide on the left, cutting back inside and then curling a superb right-footed shot beyond Darlow into the top right corner.

Preston had lost their last three home league games on Boxing Day – all against Yorkshire opposition: Leeds in 2016, Hull City in 2018 and Huddersfield Town in 2022.

But this time, in front of a season’s best crowd of 21,816, Deepdale witnessed an ultimately classic Red Rose victory.

The first half was a forgettable affair of little interest.

North End went close when Millar’s curling right-footed inswinging cross from the left side looked to be landing just right for Browne but he failed to get his head on it.

At the other end, Ethan Ampadu headed just wide from a dangerous free-kick in front of the 6,000 away fans.

But a contest that eventually brought six yellow cards – as well as that red for Meslier – was just about to get spicy.

After the red-card incident and Browne’s opener, the North End marksman fluffed a chance to make it two when he smashed over from the edge of the box.

Georginio Rutter went close for Leeds before the controversial penalty that tied proceedings. But it was Ryan Lowe’s men who had the final word when Millar followed his goal from the bench in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Swansea by bringing the house down with his stunning winner.

Who’s next?

Preston, who won at Deepdale for the first time in four games, are at home again on Friday (19:45 GMT) – to one of manager Lowe’s former clubs, struggling Sheffield Wednesday.

Daniel Farke’s Leeds, who have now won just once in four matches, are also back in action on Friday night (20:15 GMT) away to West Bromwich Albion.

Line-ups

Preston

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Woodman
  • 26Whatmough
  • 6Lindsay
  • 16Hughes
  • 44PottsBooked at 22mins
  • 13McCannBooked at 30mins
  • 4Whiteman
  • 23Millar
  • 25HolmesBooked at 80minsSubstituted forFrökjaer-Jensenat 84′minutes
  • 8BrowneBooked at 87minsSubstituted forLedsonat 90+6′minutes
  • 28OsmajicBooked at 54minsSubstituted forEvansat 72′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Cunningham
  • 7Keane
  • 9Evans
  • 10Frökjaer-Jensen
  • 14Storey
  • 18Ledson
  • 20Woodburn
  • 21Cornell
  • 33Best

Leeds

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1MeslierBooked at 53mins
  • 22Gray
  • 14RodonBooked at 54mins
  • 21Struijk
  • 39SpenceSubstituted forGnontoat 68′minutes
  • 4AmpaduSubstituted forBamfordat 90′minutes
  • 8KamaraSubstituted forGruevat 68′minutes
  • 20James
  • 7PiroeSubstituted forDarlowat 55′minutes
  • 10SummervilleSubstituted forJosephat 68′minutes
  • 24Rutter

Substitutes

  • 3Firpo
  • 6Cooper
  • 9Bamford
  • 12Anthony
  • 25Byram
  • 28Darlow
  • 29Gnonto
  • 44Gruev
  • 49Joseph
Referee:
Josh Smith
Attendance:
21,816

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