Colback double sinks 10-man Leeds
Leeds remain top of the division despite back-to-back losses, holding a two-point lead over stuttering Norwich City as they bid to end a 15-year hiatus from the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have benefitted from a mini-bad patch from the Canaries, who struck late to force a 1-1 draw at Brentford after losing to Derby at the weekend.
Leeds had shown plenty of character to come back from Colback’s fifth minute opener and Kalvin Phillips being sent off four minutes before half-time to lead 2-1 just after the hour mark thanks to goals from Jack Clarke and Ezgjan Alioski.
However, Colback’s second and two further goals from Daryl Murphy band Ben Osborn saw off the away side and handed a lifeline to Forest manager Aitor Karanka, whose future had been questioned going into the match after a five-game winless run.
“I apologise to my team mates and our amazing travelling fans for my red card today,” said Phillips on Twitter.
“I mistimed my tackle, I accept responsibility and I will make up for my mistake.”
Norwich — who let slip a late 3-2 lead to lose 4-3 to Derby County on Saturday — looked to be heading for defeat at Griffin Park thanks to an early goal from Julien Jeanvier.
However they continued their habit of producing late goals through Timm Klose, who prodded home from a corner seven minutes from time.
Sheffield United closed to just four points behind Leeds after leapfrogging West Bromwich Albion into third thanks to the Baggies going down 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers and the Blades’ thumping win 3-0 at Wigan.
Veteran striker Billy Sharp has been integral to United’s hunt for a return to the Premier League and the 32-year-old laid on Mark Duffy for his side’s second before sealing the points with his 17th league strike of the season.
Blackburn maintained a remarkable record of not losing a New Year’s Day fixture in 43 years with a much-needed victory over West Brom after three defeats on the bounce.
The hosts scored twice in five second-half minutes through Charlie Mulgrew and Bradley Dack before Jay Rodriguez pulled one back for West Brom from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute.