Match report: Leeds 3 PNE 0
Preston North End's play-off hopes suffered a huge blow as they went down to defeat to Leeds United at Elland Road.
They finished the game with 10 men after Alex Baptiste got a straight red card for a stamp on Pablo Hernandez with the scoreline at 2-0.
After Tom Barkhuizen missed two very good early chances, North End fell behind in the West Yorkshire sunshine to an 18th minute goal from Keemar Roofe.
Leeds doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time, Hernandez running clear to score after Baptiste had failed to cut out a through ball.
North End rallied for a spell in the second half, with Barkhuizen hitting the bar and substitute Jermaine Beckford inches away from connecting with a cross in the six-yard box.
But after losing Baptiste, they conceded a third goal deep into stoppage-time, substitute Souleymane Doukara slotting home after getting one-on-one.
Simon Grayson had made one change to PNE's starting XI, Marnick Vermijl replacing the injured Jordan Hugill.
North End lined-up 3-4-1-2, Vermijl and Greg Cunningham the wing-backs and Aiden McGeady playing behind front two Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson.
The first half could have taken a totally different path had the visitors taken two gilt-edged chances which came their way, both falling to Barkhuizen.
With just 78 seconds on the clock, Cunningham's cross from the left fell across the box without anyone getting a touch and fell to Vermijl.
The Belgian lifted the ball back into the middle, Barkhuizen getting in a header from inside the six-yard box which keeper Robert Green tipped over the bar.
Then in the 13th minute a pass from Cunningham sent Barkhuizen in behind the Leeds defence, the Championship player of the month racing clear into the box but firing wide of the far post with only Robert Green to beat.
In between those two chances, it had taken a fine example of tracking back by Robinson to thwart Chris Wood getting on the end of an Alfonso Pedraza pass after Leeds had caught PNE on the counter-attack.
The home side took an 18th minute lead, Roofe playing a one-two with Wood to take him into the box, his shot hitting Cunningham as he slid in to challenge and looping over Chris Maxwell.
Paul Gallagher and McGeady both sent shots wide from outside the box as North End looked for an equaliser.
There was reprieve for North End when Wood had the ball in the net in the 41st minute, the striker running through to slot past Maxwell when looking offside.
No flag initially went up but it did once referee Peter Bankes had gone over to speak with the assistant on the far side.
It proved to be only a brief let-off as Leeds made it 2-0 in the 45th minute.
Hernandez got away from Alex Baptiste to run clear on goal and poke a shot past Maxwell as he came out to the edge of his box.
Three minutes into the second half, Gallagher rolled a corner to Pearson 25 yards out, the midfielder's shot catching a deflection in the penalty area and diverting behind for another flag kick.
A 54th minute shot from Roofe went off a Preston leg for a corner, Hernandez's flag-kick nodded down by Kyle Bartley into the path of Wood who spun and scooped a shot against the bar.
Tom Clarke did well to get in a sliding block on a shot from Hernandez who had broken into space down the left hand side of the box.
Hernandez's resulting corner led to another close call for PNE, Bartley's header volleyed off the line by Ben Pearson on guard duty by the far post.
North End switched formation to 4-3-3 when Daniel Johnson replaced the off-the-pace Vermijl and they then switched to 4-4-2 when Simon Makienok and Jermaine Beckford came on for Robinson and Gallagher.
The double change inspired a decent spell of pressure, Beckford seeing a shot saved by Green after he had brought down Paul Huntington's pass and knocked it round Pontus Jansson.
In the 76th minute, McGeady's powerful shot from 20 yards was too hot to handle for Green who could only parry it out, the rebound falling to Barkhuizen who hit it against the underside of the bar with Makienok putting a follow-up header over the bar.
Not long after, Makienok won possession in the middle and his pass found Barkhuizen down the left channel.
Barkhuizen drilled a low centre into the six-yard box which Beckford was unable to get a touch on.
Leeds broke two on one with North End in the 82nd minute, Stuart Dallas' pass finding Doukara who just had Maxwell to beat.
The keeper made himself big, getting enough on Douraka's shot to take it past the far post.
PNE's hopes of a comeback ended four minutes from time when Baptiste was sent-off for aiming a stamp at Hernandez as they tangled after the Preston right-back had cleared.
The 10 men conceded a third goal three minutes into stoppage-time, Doukara again getting one-on-one with Maxwell and this time beating him with a low shot down by his near post.
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, Phillips, Roofe (Dallas 70), Hernandez (Taylor 88), Pedraza, Wood (Doukara 79). Subs (not used): Coyle, O'Kane, Barrow, Peacock-Farrell.
PNE: Maxwell, Clarke, Huntington, Baptiste, Vermijl (Johnson 61), Pearson, Gallagher (Beckford 71), Cunningham, McGeady, Barkhuizen, Robinson (Makienok 71). Subs (not used): Horgan, Browne, Spurr, Lindegaard.
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)