Simon Grayson rang the changes for the New Year's Eve clash with Barnsley. Mika Vayrynen came in for Adam Clayton, Ramon Nunez replaced Robert Snodgrass after the Scot underwent an appendix operation, and Andy Keogh came back in for Luciano Becchio.The changes enabled Grayson to switch back to his favoured formation of two wide men - Nunez and Ross McCormack - with Vayrynen playing in an advanced midfield role.And it was United who had the first sight of goal inside eight minutes when Keogh sent a shot fizzing inches wide after good build-up play by Michael Brown and McCormack.Danny Pugh also went close for Leeds on the quarter-hour when he tried his luck with a strike from distance which went just wide.But it was 1-0 to Barnsley moments later when home substitute Ricardo Vaz Te scored witrh his first touch after shrugging off the attentions of two Leeds defenders before delivering a cool finish.United's response came courtesy of Nunez, who saw a shot from distance turned around the post by Luke Steele. McCormack and O'Dea were also thwarted with their backs to goal as the game headed past the half-hour mark with Leeds looking for a leveller.The home side also looked to attack, though, and Craig Davies wasted a good opportunity when he fired high over the top after some good build-up play.
When United came forward three minutes before the break, Steele had to get down well to save from Keogh. The home keeper was also called upon to save from Nunez when the Honduran tried his luck from distance.United resumed the second period by having the first raid, but it was Barnsley's Matt Done who had the first shot of the half when he had an effort deflected wide.
But Vaz Te made no mistake for the visitors when he found acres of space to convert a ball into the box into the far corner on 51 minutes.And it got worse on the hour when Davies smashed home a third goal with a clinical strike which left Andy Lonergan with no chance.United were rocking now as the hosts looked to ram home their advantage, and Vaz Te completed his hat-trick on 72 minutes when found more space down the Barnsley left and was able to tuck the ball beneath Lonergan.Leeds almost salvaged some pride shortly after, but Kisnorbo had a header clawed off the line and O'Dea's follow-up clipped the bar.But Lonergan was called upon to save well from Miles Addison, who fired through a ruck of players, as Barnsley still looked to further their advantage.Home goalkeeper Steele was bizarrely named man of the match, and to celebrate he made a good save to deny McCormack with three minutes left on the clock.United did bag a consolation in stoppage time when Luciano Becchio headed home a free-kick but it was too little too late.