Ross McCormack opens the scoring at Elland Road - Photo-Varley Agency

Leeds United 2 Middlesbrough 1

There were three changes to the Boro side from the game with Watford which seemed a long time ago.

Rhys Williams and Ben Gibson dropped to the bench, Seb Hines missed out with a hamstring injury.

Back came Frazer Richardson to play against his old club, George Friend and to captain the side, Jonathan Woodgate.

Brian McDermott made two changes to the Leeds side which won 4-2 away to Charlton two weeks ago, a game where Ross McCormack scored all four.

Scott Wooton is expected to be out for a little while with an ankle injury picked up in that game, while Hartlepool-born Michael Brown dropped to the bench.

In came former Hearts player Marius Zaliukas for his first start since joining at the end of last month and Alex Mowatt.

Shortly before kick-off there was a touching tribute to Gary Speed with a montage being shown on a big screen and a banner carried round the pitch. Boro fans joining with Leeds supporters is showing much deserved respect.

The first chance of the game came after just 78 seconds as McCormack headed just wide when acrobatically meeting a miss—hit shot from Mowatt.

Boro were, incorrectly, awarded a free-kick a couple of yards up from the edge of the Leeds penalty area when Marvin Emnes was challenged by Rodolph Austin. But neither Grant Leadbitter with the original free-kick, nor Albert Adomah with the follow-up could get through massed ranks.

It was interesting to note that when Leeds won the game's first corner Boro left three men up front, two out wide and one up the middle, though that quickly became two up at Emnes raced back to prevent a short corner.

Leeds enjoyed much the better of the early exchanges in a fast-paced keenly contested game, 11 minutes into which Leeds fans offered another vocal tribute to Gary Speed.

Karanka, suited and back on the ground where 13 years ago yesterday he was an unused sub for Real Madrid against a Leeds side including Jonathan Woodgate, made notes. Gradually worked their way towards a reasonable share of possession, though Leeds were always quick to squeeze in midfield.

With just short of 20 minutes played Austin struck low from 25-yards and Jason Steele saved away to his left. Less than a minute later the home side were appealing for a penalty when Daniel Ayala handled on the edge of the box and again when McCormack was challenged when contesting the follow-up after the free-kick hit the wall.

Great work from George Friend approaching the halfway line set up Carayol, but his control let him down.

Back came Leeds and Steele had to pull off a smart save to deny Danny Pugh who had shot at an angle inside the penalty area.

Dexter Blackstock shot over from close range when meeting a right-wing cross from Lee Peltier and it seemed a matter of time before the home side would make their pressure count.

That came on 35 minutes as they played a short corner from the left, eventually swinging over a deep cross which was comfortably headed back to Ross McCormack, who, unmarked, headed home from inside the six-yard box - his 12th Championship goal of the season.

Games between Boro and Leeds have a history of red cards and this one here after 44 minutes made it nine in as many seasons.

A poor defensive header from Ayala set Blackstock up with a chance to chase the ball. He was going away from goal when brought down by Steele a couple of yards outside the box and there were covering defenders, therefore a yellow may have sufficed and red was rough justice for the Boro goalkeeper. Unless the referee deemed it serious foul play.

Before the free-kick, Marvin Emnes became the sacrifice when replaced by Jayson Leutwiler.

Half-time Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 0

After a relatively quiet start to the second half Boro drew level with 52 minutes played.

Slack marking allowed Albert Adomah to steal away down the right. Another unchecked run had been made on the other side of the pitch and when Adomah swung over a cross Muzzy Carayol swept home from close range.

It took a fine save from Leutwiler to tip away a low shot driven from 20 yards by Mowatt, but he was soon beaten.

"We've only got 10 men" had been the cry from the Boro fans, but five minutes after their team had drawn level later they were quietened as United struck again to regain the lead as Jason Pearce rose above Richardson at the back post to head home.

Approaching the mid-point of the second half Karanka made a second change, replacing Carayol with Curtis Main and pushing Kei Kamara out to the left.

Boro were digging in. Not offering too much by way of direct threat, but enough to make Leeds make heavy weather of the game, despite their man advantage, though it took some smart goalkeeping to stop Mowatt scoring from close range.

Soon after McDermott made a double change, Karanka made his final one, replacing Richard Smallwood with Lukas Jutkiewicz, putting him through the middle, Main to the left, Kamara to the right and Adomah to central midfield.

Boro pushed for the equaliser as the home fans became a little edgy, but the visitors almost added a third on the break in the closing stages, but Austin shot into the side netting.

At the end of the game Karanka took to the pitch to applaud the Boro fans, making sure his players did the same.

Scorers McCormack, 35; Carayol¸ 52; Pearce, 57.

Leeds United: Kenny; Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Zaliukas, Murphy (Brown 87), Austin (Capt), Pugh (Byram 81), Mowatt, Blackstock (Smith 81), McCormack. Subs: Cairns (gk); Varney, Tonge, Poleon. Order of subs on 81: 1) Smith 2) Byram

Middlesbrough: Steele; Richardson, Woodgate, (Capt.), Ayala, Friend, Adomah, Leadbitter, Smallwood (Jutkiewicz 82), Carayol (Main 66), Kamara, Emnes (Leutwiler 44). Subs: R Williams, Gibson, Butterfield, Whitehead.

Referee Philip Gibbs

Sent off: Steele, 44, foul.

Leeds United Pugh
, 65, foul.

Middlesbrough Ayala, 20, handball; Woodgate, 83, foul; Friend, 87, foul.

Attendance 30,367 (2,472 Boro)

Conditions Cold, dry, still and sunny at kick-off.

Possession: Leeds United 60% Middlesbrough 40%

Website Boro Man of the Match: Richard Smallwood




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