Leeds United applied the brakes to Nottingham Forest’s unbeaten start to the season in the Championship in a pulsating contest at Elland Road.
The Reds’ six-match unbeaten run came to an end in West Yorkshire as Leeds went some way to gaining revenge for their seven-goal drubbing last season.
Goals from Luciano Becchio and Dominic Poleon gave the home side the upper hand as Forest struggled to hit top gear in the first half.
And although Dexter Blackstock capped a vastly improved second half display with his second goal in as many games, Sean O’Driscoll’s men were unable to bag an equaliser.
Boss O’Driscoll made three changes to his starting line-up, handing a full debut for James Coppinger and a first league start of the campaign for Guy Moussi.
Blackstock was also rewarded for his equalising goal against Crystal Palace in midweek with a return to O’Driscoll’s starting XI.
Lewis McGugan and Billy Sharp were relegated to the bench, while Sam Hutchinson was ruled out with the knee problem he had picked up against Palace.
Henri Lansbury was named as a substitute – his first involvement since joining The Reds from Arsenal – while Chris Cohen was also included on the bench.
Forest made a promising start to the game and a nice interchange between Coppinger and Simon Cox resulted in the latter firing straight at Paddy Kenny.
The Reds had the ball in the back of the net after 12 minutes – seemingly off Leeds skipper Lee Peltier from an Andy Reid corner – but their joy was cut-short as referee Andy D’Urso spotted an infringement on Kenny.
It was, however, the Leeds fans who had reason to celebrate two minutes later as they took the lead through Becchio.
The Argentinean fired past Lee Camp after Forest had failed to deal with El-Hadji Diouf’s trickery and cross into the area from the right-hand side.
Coppinger sprang Leeds’ offside trap as O’Driscoll’s men went in search of an equaliser but the move fizzled out when he fed Cox on the edge of the area and the striker was adjudged to have handled on the edge of the area.
Forest skipper Danny Collins made a brave block to deny Diouf midway through the first half but it proved to be a brief respite for the visitors, who fell further behind after 25 minutes.
It was the result of more hesitant defending; Becchio got the better of Ayala and Poleon was on hand to fire past Camp from just inside the box.
Reid fired a long range shot wide of the target and then floated a free-kick over the bar from the edge of the area after Jason Pearce had earned himself a booking by bringing down Cox.
Leeds should have made it 3-0 shortly before half-time but Becchio side-footed over from seven yards out after Sam Byram had sent over a cross from the right.
O’Driscoll made a double change at the start of the second half, introducing Lansbury and McGugan for Reid and Moussi respectively as Forest looked to gain a foothold in the contest.
It was, however, midweek hero Blackstock who reduced the deficit on the hour mark as he headed past Kenny from close range from a long – but pin-point – Halford throw-in.
Another towering throw from Halford almost paid dividends for Forest eight minutes later as Coppinger forced Adam Drury to clear off the line before then making Kenny produce a smart save.
The home goalkeeper made an even better stop to keep out a curling shot from McGugan as Forest looked to punish a now nervous looking Leeds.
The midfielder was a fraction away from levelling matters 11 minutes from time with a free kick from 25 yards out that flew just inches wide.
And only another goal-line block – this from Luke Varney – denied Blackstock in a rousing finale to the game.
O’Driscoll threw on Sharp seven minutes from time as Forest looked for the equaliser their dominant second half display deserved but it was to no avail.
Camp; Halford, Ayala, Collins(c), Harding; Coppinger (Sharp 83'), Moussi (McGugan 46'), Gillett, Reid (Lansbury 46'); Blackstock, Cox
Subs not used: Evtimov, Cohen, Moloney, Majewski.
Scorer: Blackstock 60'
Booking: Cox 90'
Leeds: Kenny, Peltier(c) (Varney 68'), Drury, Lees, Pearce, Austin, Becchio (Gray 90'), Tonge, Diouf, Byram, Poleon (White 66').
Subs not used: Ashdown, Kisnorbo, Brown, Payne.
Scorers: Becchio 14', Poleon 25'
Bookings: Pearce 29', Lees 80'
Referee: Andy D’Urso