Centre-back Guiseppe Bellusci came to the rescue as Leeds United came from behind to earn a point in their Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road.
The Italian defender’s second goal in a Leeds shirt earned his side a 1-1 draw after Chris Maguire had fired the Owls ahead early in the second half.
Bellusci’s calm volley in the box 11 minutes from time ended a run of more than four hours without goal since Darko Milanic took over as head coach and gave him his second draw in back to back home games.
Again Leeds started brightly without the final ball coming off. Alex Mowatt hit a third minute free-kick over and ran onto a Tomasso Bianchi slide rule pass only for Wednesday keeper Kieren Westwood to be fast off his line to block.
In a lively start to the match Wednesday also managed a couple of efforts with big striker Atdhe Nuhiu sending two headers wide.
Souleymane Doukara was next to feature with an angled shot wide after linking with strike partner Mirco Antenucci before Rudy Austin saw a powerful 30-yard shot tipped over by the impressive Westwood.
Gaetano Berardi, restored to the team at left-back after serving his second suspension of the season, dragged a shot wide after getting forward well and United could count themselves unlucky not to be ahead in the opening half.
Antenucci did have the ball in the net only to be flagged offside.
Wednesday showed that they could be a threat, however, just before half-time when Stevie May sent a glancing header wide after appearing to get away with a push on Bellusci.
The second half started in exciting style with end to end action.
Westwood was alert to deny Doukara, coming out of his box to clear, then Antenucci did get the ball over the keeper only to see his lob cleared by Liam Palmer. The Wednesday full-back was quickly in the action at the other end, hitting an angled shot into the side netting from the edge of the box.
On 50 minutes Doukara put Antenucci clean through, but his shot was saved by the legs of Westwood.
Leeds were soon made to pay for the big missed opportunity when a cross evaded everyone in the box and fell to Maguire, who beat keeper Marco Silvestri with a well struck angled shot into the far corner of the net.
The response was initially good as another clear chance was fashioned with Antenucci once again put through only to see his shot well saved by Westwood.
The Italian striker was in the thick of the action once more when he ran at the Wednesday defence, but fired a shot wide.
The visitors had a big chance to double their lead on 59 minutes, but May dragged his shot wide after finding time to control the ball in the box.
The match then went through a niggly patch with more bookings than good passes before livening up in the final 15 minutes after Gary Madine saw a weak header easily saved by Silvestri.
Leeds equalised on 79 minutes when a free-kick skipped off the head of Madine and fell to Bellusci, who found the net with a placed left-foot volley before celebrating in his own style.
It was the first goal of Milanic’s reign and Austin raced onto a ball in the box in a bid to make it two only to fire wide off balanced.
It was Wednesday who had the last chance, but Madine’s shot on the turn in injury-time was easily dealt with by Silvestri.
United head coach Darko Milanic thought his side had deserved at least a point and showed improvement on their performance in the draw with Reading on Wednesday.
He said: “We had enough opportunities to win the game.
“We had energy in the game and a lot of good play. Both strikers played very well.
“We did a lot of things well but the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper was very good.”
Leeds United 1
Sheffield Wednesday 1
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Berardi, Bianchi, Austin, Mowatt, Sloth (Murphy 45), Doukara (Sharp 68), Antenucci (Morison 80).
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Mattock, Maguire (Helan 70), Semedo (Coke 83), Lee, Maghoma, May, Nuhiu (Madine 45).
Referee: James Adcock.