The dismissal of Forest midfielder Cohen was a key moment in the game
By Paul Fletcher
Leeds scored four second-half goals to defeat 10-man Nottingham Forest after a feisty contest at Elland Road.
Forest dominated the first half but had Chris Cohen sent off after challenging George McCartney for a loose ball.
Jonny Howson put Leeds in front from close range after the restart before Luciano Becchio headed a second goal.
Garath McCleary pulled one back with a superb curling effort but Max Gradel then struck with an 18-yard shot and fired home a rebound close to the end.
It was a competitive, bad-tempered and engaging contest, packed full of the sort of effort and desire that you would expect from two teams in patchy form but desperate to secure their place in the top six.
Leeds, who went into the contest in fifth - one place above Forest - had won just two of their previous seven fixtures but started the match on the front foot.
Lee Camp saved at the feet of Bradley Johnson in the second minute after referee Mark Halsey played an advantage following a crude lunge on Gradel by Wes Morgan.
Play was brought back after Camp's save but Gradel could only smash the ensuing free-kick wide of the Forest goal.
The visitors had collected just four points from their previous seven games but, after weathering the early storm, Billy Davies's side took a definite grip on the contest.
Radoslaw Majewski was slippery throughout the opening half playing on the left side of a front three and he almost scored with a crisp strike that deflected off Johnson but flew narrowly wide with Kasper Schmeichel beaten.
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Lewis McGugan, one of three recalled players, forced two stops from Schmeichel, while Marcus Tudgay was inches away from slotting home a cross from the left by Joel Lynch.
Forest lost Paul Anderson to injury before the half-hour mark but continued to look composed in possession and should have scored after Majewski jinked through the Leeds defence and played a square ball to an unmarked Tudgay.
Schmeichel was out of his goal and Tudgay had time to pick his spot but his effort was blocked by Leigh Bromby, who also denied Kris Boyd with a follow-up.
Seconds later Cohen challenged McCartney for a loose ball and within seconds a melee had broken out as tempers threatened to boil over.
Boss Davies proud of 'unlucky' Forest
Leeds manager Simon Grayson angrily invaded the field of play but replays suggested Cohen won the ball cleanly and he can be regarded as unfortunate to have been sent from the field.
Forest remained on top for the remaining 10 minutes of the opening half but found themselves behind five minutes after the restart when Robert Snodgrass and Eric Lichaj combined to play in Howson.
The Leeds skipper used a touch to control the ball before guiding it past the advancing Camp.
Shortly afterwards, the Yorkshire side appeared to take a decisive grip on the contest when Becchio headed his 17th goal of the Championship season after Bromby's initial effort cannoned off the post.
Snodgrass then struck the crossbar with a curling strike but Forest would not lie down and McCleary, who replaced Anderson in the opening half, wrong-footed Barry Bannan before hitting an exquisite strike from a tight angle that found the top corner.
In the end, it took Gradel's superb strike 18 minutes from normal time for Leeds to secure the points.
The Ivory Coast international controlled a header with his first touch before striking a precise strike from a central position on the edge of the box that nestled into the bottom corner.
Forest, who now face back-to-back home games against play-off hopefuls Reading and Burnley, brought on Nathan Tyson and Robert Earnshaw in the second half and the former was inches wide with a left-foot strike.
But the final goal fell to the energetic Gradel, who fired home a rebound from six yards minutes before the end after Camp had denied substitute Jake Livermore and then Becchio.
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