Leeds 2-1 Bolton: Ezgjan Alioski hits winner at Elland Road
Patrick Bamford's penalty puts Leeds ahead and Ezgjan Alioski seals win
Last Updated: 23/02/19 7:35pm
Ezgjan Alioski's freak goal gave Leeds a nervy 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Bolton to keep them on track at the top of the Sky Bet Championship.
United were heading for a frustrating draw when Bolton goalkeeper Remi Matthews made a mess of Alioski's overhit cross midway through the second half and gifted Leeds three valuable points.
Patrick Bamford's early penalty appeared to have put Marcelo Bielsa's side on course for a routine victory but Mark Beevers quickly equalised as Bolton gave as good as they got in an even contest.
Visiting boss Phil Parkinson was sent off just after Alioski's goal in a sign that Bolton felt they were worthy of at least a point.
Norwich laid down a challenge to Leeds by leaving the University of Bolton Stadium with a 4-0 win last weekend but Bielsa's men had to work much harder for the points on Saturday.
Bolton challenged their hosts aerially from the start, Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla doing well to tip Josh Magennis' free header over the bar in the third minute.
United quickly settled into their stride with Alioski's speculative free-kick pressing Bolton stopper Matthews into action.
Leeds remained on the front foot and were handed a golden opportunity to open the scoring on 16 minutes when Tyler Roberts was taken down by Pawel Olkowski as he charged into Bolton's box.
Bamford duly sent Matthews the wrong way but any thoughts the floodgates would open were swiftly ended by Beevers.
Jack Harrison was in the right place to clear David Wheater's header off the line but Leeds failed to clear the danger and fellow centre-back Beevers was on hand to prod the ball home from close range.
The equaliser midway through the first half stunned the home side and they were fortunate to still be level after Magennis volleyed wide from Craig Noone's free-kick.
Leeds settled again and Matthews pulled off a series of saves to keep his team in it.
Matthews had to be at his best to keep out headers from Harrison and Bamford, who was denied twice more by the Wanderers goalkeeper before half-time.
As expected, Bolton sat back in the first period and did a good job of containing Leeds.
But they were almost caught on the break just after the restart when Luke Ayling curled a left-footed shot just wide.
For all Leeds' domination, Bolton had carved out the better chances and they went close again when Casilla parried Joe Williams' long-range strike straight to Magennis and was grateful to comfortably pouch the rebound.
The home fans grew increasingly restless after Bamford failed to get a telling touch on Pablo Hernandez's flick-on but they were jubilant when Alioski restored Leeds' lead in unlikely fashion in the 68th minute.
The United left-back's mishit cross was completely misjudged by Matthews who frantically tried to keep the ball out as it bounced in off the underside of his bar.
Tensions boiled over from the kick-off with Parkinson sent to the stands following Williams' challenge on Alioski.
Bamford forced Matthews into a save from a tight angle as Leeds sought a killer third goal and United were almost made to pay for their profligacy when Bolton substitute Sammy Ameobi drove a 25-yard strike inches wide in stoppage time.
Marcelo Bielsa: "It's a game very similar to other games we've played so far: we missed chances to score and suffered from set-pieces. Bolton were a team who fought a lot and had many chances to score.
"The dangerous actions created by the opponent were from set-pieces especially. This has happened many times before in the Championship. As we won today we are in good condition to play the next game."
Phil Parkinson: "I'm just going to see the ref in a minute because there was a melee on the side of the pitch - one of their players has poured a drinks bottle over one of our player's head. Both sets of staff have gone to separate it because they didn't want it to escalate into anything. I did have a go at Pontus Jansson saying I felt he'd instigated it by running over.
"There were about 15 people in amongst it being calm and he's decided to pick me out and give me a red card. So I'll ask him what his reasons for that are."