Manchester United scored twice in the final 10 minutes at Elland Road to leave managerless Leeds deep in relegation trouble.
Five days on from Marcus Rashford netting the Red Devils’ first goal as they came back from 2-0 down at home to draw against the same opponents, the England striker broke the deadlock when he met Luke Shaw’s curling cross to head in his 21st goal of the season.
Substitute Alejandro Garnacho then outpaced the home defence before beating Illan Meslier at his near post to the obvious joy of manager Erik ten Hag on the touchline.
The result was harsh on Leeds, who created a number of decent opportunities but could not beat visiting goalkeeper David de Gea.
However, in the end it was the visitors who displayed an extra touch of class to take them seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the battle for a Champions League spot.
Leeds are in a far more precarious position at the other end of the table and will drop into the relegation zone if Everton win Monday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
The Whites need to arrest a damaging nine-game winless run that has brought just four points from a possible 27, with the need to replace Jesse Marsch, who was sacked last week, now more urgent than ever.
Clubs condemn fans’ songs
For almost 45 minutes, the atmosphere was by some distance the best element of an afternoon crackling with tension but lacking in quality.
Sadly, the mood around the stadium soured just before the break when chants about the Munich Air Disaster and the murders in 2000 of two Leeds fans in Istanbul were traded between the rival fans.
The clubs released a joint statement after full-time in which they strongly condemned the “completely unacceptable” chants.
On the pitch, Meslier produced an excellent save with his feet to deny Bruno Fernandes in first-half stoppage time. From the subsequent corner, the ball bounced off Luke Ayling and narrowly wide of the far post, with Rashford inches away from converting.
But in general the first period was a fiery affair lacking in clear opportunities. And it was in keeping with the mood around Elland Road that Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia were the subject of ferocious, but fair, early Leeds tackles.
Ayling and Malacia also had a grappling match as the Leeds man kept hold of the ball when his opponent tried to snatch it from him to take a quick throw, and Leeds duo Junior Firpo and Weston McKennie and Manchester United’s Fred were all booked as referee Paul Tierney tried to regain control.
Leeds in danger at the bottom
Despite the complaints of Ten Hag after the meeting between these sides on Wednesday, the visitors were once again guilty of making a sluggish start.
They were also fortunate not to concede early in the second half when Crysencio Summerville brought a low save out of De Gea, Jack Harrison prodded a shot narrowly wide of the near post and Ayling’s effort deflected off Shaw.
It was the prelude to a more positive contest in the second period, with Diogo Dalot crashing a shot against the bar from the edge of the area and Ayling sending an overhead kick straight at De Gea, who also turned away a Summerville shot heading for the far corner.
With matches to come against fellow strugglers Everton and Southampton, Leeds badly need to identify a replacement for Marsch after hitting a brick wall in their attempts to lure Andoni Iraola from Rayo Vallecano and Carlos Corberan from West Brom.