Leeds denied a win at Villa Park as Jonathan Kodjia scores from the spot
Jonathan Kodjia scored a late penalty as Aston Villa preserved their unbeaten home record with a 1-1 draw against high-flying Leeds in a pulsating Championship clash.
Leeds were on course to collect another three points in their fight for promotion courtesy of Pontus Jansson's header in the early stages of the second half.
But the visitors were forced to settle for only one after stand-in centre-back Liam Cooper handled and Kodjia dispatched his spot-kick for his ninth goal of the season.
The result was still enough to lift Leeds up to fourth in the table with Villa moving to within five points of the top six.
Leeds' last league victory at Villa Park came in April 2002 on their way to a fifth-place Premier League finish and eight wins in 10 Championship games had United supporters dreaming of a return to the top flight.
That run had propelled Garry Monk's men into the play-off places but the form of the sides around them meant that top-six spot was far from secure.
A rejuvenated Villa under Steve Bruce have become serious play-off contenders and they were almost gifted an opener inside a minute.
For the first time in the league this season Leeds were without key defender Kyle Bartley and they were nearly caught cold at the back, Jansson rescuing the situation after Kalvin Phillips had gifted Kodjia possession at the edge of the box.
Moments later Phillips was caught on the ball again and this time Kodjia got a deflected strike on target only for Leeds goalkeeper Robert Green to make a good save down to his left.
The visitors withstood the early pressure and slowly settled into the game, showing glimpses of their threat on the break.
But Villa continued to do most of the running and they went close twice in a matter of seconds
First Green was forced to tip a Jordan Ayew free-kick from the left behind and then scrambled across his goal to ensure James Chester's looping header dropped wide.
Leeds were limited to rare forays into Villa's half but they did have some joy down the hosts' left, albeit without testing goalkeeper Mark Bunn before the break.
Villa suffered a blow just after the restart when Jack Grealish hobbled off, former Leeds captain Ross McCormack coming on as his replacement.
McCormack was immediately involved after being played in behind by Alan Hutton but his cross from the right was parried to safety by Green.
Leeds had started the second half with a spring in their step and they were celebrating the opener on 53 minutes when Jansson headed home Stuart Dallas' corner with Bunn under pressure from Kemar Roofe.
Villa were rattled and fortunate not to fall two goals behind when a Jansson volley from another corner smashed the top of the crossbar.
Kodjia got Villa going again with a determined run and drive across goal that forced Green into a save.
But Leeds were looking just as likely to grab the second goal and, after top scorer Chris Wood was introduced by Monk, another substitute Pablo Hernandez clipped a shot over the bar.
Hernandez then slipped in Hadi Sacko whose shot was ushered to safety by the onrushing Bunn before Luke Ayling was forced to head over his own bar at the other end.
The pressure was beginning to mount and Villa had a lifeline when Cooper handled a cross into the box
Kodjia sent Green the wrong way to finish confidently into the right corner to level the scores with five minutes to play.
Leeds went agonisingly close to a winner when Sacko saw his deflected effort loop over Bunn and onto the crossbar, while Kodjia was brilliantly denied by Green at the other end.
But in the end both sides were forced to settle for a draw, only Leeds' third of the campaign.
Source : PA