Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa praised double goal scorer Patrick Bamford as he helped his side to a 2-0 win at Preston.
Bielsa did not feel that Bamford was at his best in the win over Millwall two weeks ago and improved in the 1-0 defeat against Birmingham at the weekend.
But his two goals at Deepdale helped move Leeds – who took full advantage of Ben Pearson’s straight red card – back into the automatic promotion places for 24 hours at least as they leapfrogged Sheffield United.
Bielsa said: “I thought Patrick Bamford adapted very well after one very difficult game.
“He didn’t play well against Millwall, against Birmingham he increased his level and performance.
“Having three chances is something positive for a striker. He improved his performance again today with two goals and he put in a lot of work for the team.
“It was a very difficult game against a tough physical team.
“In the first half we imposed ourselves. In the second half, after the red card, we solved the game more easily.
“I’m proud of the performance of the team because all the players played at a high level.”
After a goalless first half, the game swung in Leeds’ favour in the 49th minute when Pearson was sent off for the third time this season after bringing down Bamford when he was the last man.
Leeds made their numerical advantage count with a tidal wave of pressure, first Kalvin Phillips went close for Bielsa’s men with a free-kick on 51 minutes, before North End survived shouts for a penalty after Jack Harrison’s cross appeared to strike an arm.
The pressure paid off when Bamford smashed the ball into the top of the far corner from the edge of the area on 62 minutes.
Bamford then made the points safe when he powered a header home from Mateusz Klich’s cross with 14 minutes to go.
Bielsa said he was unsure if he will watch Sheffield United’s game at Birmingham on Wednesday and admitted he was only interested in the result.
He added: “I am more interested in the result than the game. We have five more games and we want five more wins. We are playing well as a group and are coping with the pressure.”
Preston North End manager Alex Neil said: “I thought we matched them tonight and then the sending off has changed the game.
“They are not a team that you want to play against with 10 men and it was always going to be a very difficult game from that point.
“The sending-off really put us on the back foot and we had to sit back.
“Leeds are not easy to stop, they are probably the hardest team in the league to stop and I think we found a way to do that up until the crucial error that determined the game.”
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