SELF-INFLICTED wounds are bleeding Leeds United dry.

Their Championship promotion hopes are in critical condition after being reduced to ten men for the fourth time in five games as Cardiff City crushed the Whites 4-1 at Elland Road on Saturday.

It was Gaetano Beradi who saw red this time – his fifth dismissal in a Leeds shirt – as Leeds slid to a sixth Championship game without a win, seven points adrift of a play-off spot.

The fans at ER are suffering death by a thousand cuts. Suspensions and injuries have decimated Leeds in recent weeks, leaving coach Thomas Christiansen to slap a sticking plaster over lesions in his squad.

From the off, a patched-up Leeds were bullied by a bigger, stronger Cardiff side. United’s defence was soon struggling against long throws, free-kicks and corners as the Bluebirds took to the skies. Leeds were unable to win a header in a shambolic opening and it was no surprise when Callum Paterson headed the Welsh side into a ninth-minute lead.

The hosts were denied an equaliser soon after when Neil Etheridge tipped Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s strike onto the woodwork. Hamburg loanee Lasogga shook the woodwork once again when he failed to put away an easy header, Ezgjan Alioski compounding the miss by putting the rebound wide with the goal gaping.

Leeds lost yet another centre-back as the talismanic Pontus Jansson was stretchered off after a collision with former Leeds skipper Sol Bamba on the half-hour mark.

It took Neil Warnock’s men just ten more minutes to capitalise on his absence. The home defence went AWOL again leaving Junior Hoilett to slide home City’s second goal.

Could it get any worse for Leeds? You bet. In added time at the end of the first-half Beradi received his second yellow for a foul on £6m signing Gary Madine, paving the way for an unchallenged Anthony Pilkington to head in the third from the resulting free-kick.

Christiansen said of Beradi’s dismissal, “He should have been more intelligent, but it’s the passion and emotion he plays with.”

As they had when facing a similar situation against Millwall a fortnight earlier, Leeds went to three at the back for the second-half and improved as Cardiff became lax.

Substitute Stuart Dallas, Leeds’ only shining light, put in a cross which Bamba turned into his own net for a consolation but an 88th-minute defensive mix-up saw Cardiff work the ball to spare man Pilkington who killed the game off.

Christiansen, whose position is coming under greater scrutiny, said: “Physically we struggled. We have only one or two players over 180cm tall and when you have to defend against six then you know they will play direct. We just weren’t good enough, especially in the first half where we lost the game.”

Leeds United: Wiedwald, Berardi, Pennington, Jansson (Dallas 30), De Bock, Forshaw, Ronaldo Vieira (Grot 86), Alioski, Hernandez, Roofe, Lasogga (Sacko 74). Subs: Lonergan, Anita, Pearce, Romario Vieira

Cardiff City: Etheridge, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Bamba, Traore, Grujic (Halford 82), Paterson, Ralls, Hoilett, Wildschut (Pilkington 55), Madine (Zohore 720. Subs: Murphy, Feeney, Damour, Ward.

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)

Attendance: 30,534