Visitors end the game with 10 men in goalless draw at Elland Road...
UNITED 0, MIDDLESBROUGH 0
United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Cook, Bridcutt, Diagouraga (Murphy 90+2), Dallas (Mowatt 71), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 79). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Adeyemi.
Middlesbrough team: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Fry, Gibson, De Laet, Leadbitter, Clayton, Stuani (Nugent 67), Ramirez (Adomah 67), Downing, Rhodes (Kalas 90). Subs: Agazzi, de Pena, de Sart, Forshaw.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Booked: Diagouraga, Bellusci (United), Clayton, Gibson (Boro)
Sent off: Gibson (Boro)
Att: 20,424 (2,782 Boro)
The visit of second-placed Middlesbrough saw United head coach Steve Evans name an unchanged side from the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest nine days earlier. The only alteration came on the substitutes bench as Alex Mowatt returned from injury in place of Mustapha Carayol, with the on-loan winger ineligible to face his parent club.
Leeds started the brighter of the two sides, dominating the early stages at a bitterly cold Elland Road, as Mirco Antenucci saw his goalbound effort blocked inside the area by Ben Gibson after being played in by Souleymane Doukara, before Stuart Dallas’ back-post header was deflected onto the roof of the net.
The visitors soon threatened at the opposite end, though, as Marco Silvestri saw Gaston Ramirez’s low cross late, forcing Giuseppe Bellusci to turn the ball behind for a corner, from which the Italian defender was well-placed to clear the ball off the line as Boro looked to scramble home from close-range.
Silvestri then held a well-hit effort from Boro full-back Dael Fry, but it was United who looked the more likely to break the deadlock during the early exchanges.
Antenucci raised the tempo, cutting inside before seeing his low effort blocked from 25 yards out, before the woodwork denied Evans’ side an opener on the half-hour mark as Ritchie De Laet turned Charlie Taylor’s back-post corner against his own crossbar.
Doukara then tried his luck from distance, forcing goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos to back-pedal nervously as his audacious attempt brushed the roof of the net on its way over.
The second half began at a somewhat slower pace as both sides patiently probed for a way through.
Christhian Stuani’s dangerous-looking low cross was gathered by Silvestri, while Konstantopoulos was forced off his line at the opposite end to punch clear Bellusci’s long ball as Doukara lurked inside the area.
The visitors were starting to put United under a sustained spell of pressure, though, and Bellusci was on hand again to hack away Emilio Nsue’s downwards header as it looked to be creeping in at the back post, before Stuani hammered a volley into the ground and over the bar after being found arriving inside the area unmarked
Both sides were soon prompted into making changes, Boro introducing attacking duo Albert Adomah and David Nugent, while United brought Mowatt on in place of Dallas.
The home crowd were left wondering how their side had not managed to open the scoring on 71 minutes, as Konstantopoulos somehow flew across his line to claw away Doukara’s header after Taylor’s deep free-kick.
The game seemed to be opening up and Boro broke from the resulting corner, Jordan Rhodes going through on goal before seeing his strike beaten away by a strong two-handed save from Silvestri.
Lee Erwin was introduced to bolster United’s attack, replacing Antenucci with 10 minutes remaining, as the game remained in the balance, but Boro threatened twice in quick succession at the opposite end as Rhodes stooped to head wide from Adomah’s right-wing cross before Stewart Downing fired into Silvestri’s arms.
Doukara then towered a header agonisingly wide of the far post after meeting Taylor’s cross, before United started to pile on the pressure in search of a late winner as Boro were reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute as Gibson collected his second yellow card of the evening for a foul on Erwin.
The best chance during four minutes of added time fell for Doukara after being slotted into the area by Liam Bridcutt, but Konstantopoulos was quick off his line to block, while Taylor hammered a first-time strike over the bar after a corner had fallen into his path.
But there was to be no way through as the visitors saw out a nervy finale to ensure the spoils would be shared.