The hosts are 3-0 winners at the Riverside Stadium...
MIDDLESBROUGH 3 (Nugent 3, Bellusci og 32, Fabbrini 81), UNITED 0
Middlesbrough team: Konstantopoulos, Kalas, Ayala, Amorebieta, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter (Forshaw 87), Downing, Adomah (Nsue 77), Stuani (Fabbrini 57), Nugent. Subs: Mejias, Gibson, Kike, De Pena.
United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Bamba, Taylor, Adeyemi, Cook, Mowatt, Botaka (Doukara 64), Dallas (Murphy 79), Antenucci. Subs: Turnbull, Wootton, Cooper, Phillips, Byram.
Referee: N Swarbrick
Booked: Stuani, Fabbrini, Ayala (Middlesbrough)
Att: 27,694 (2,652 United)
Sunday’s televised trip to Middlesbrough saw United head coach Uwe Rosler make five changes to his side from the win at MK Dons – one of which was enforced – as Mirco Antenucci started in place of the injured Chris Wood in attack. Elsewhere, Jordan Botaka was handed his Leeds debut, coming in for Sam Byram on the right wing, while Gaetano Berardi, Giuseppe Bellusci and Tom Adeyemi were all recalled to the team.
The Riverside Stadium was a cauldron of noise come kick-off, and the hosts made a lightening start to proceedings as David Nugent forced the ball home from close-range inside the third minute following Christian Stuani’s cross from the right.
Having opened the scoring, Boro appeared to be in control during the early exchanges and their lead could have been doubled on 11 minutes, but Marco Silvestri was alert with a superb, flying save to prevent Sol Bamba from turning Albert Adomah’s left-wing cross into his own net with a chested back-pass.
But Leeds started to come into the game as the half progressed, and Rosler’s side had their first sight of goal inside the 19th minute following some smart build-up play involving Berardi and Botaka. The ball was worked down the right before Antenucci was slotted into the area, only to see his low effort from a tight angle held by Dimi Konstantopoulos.
Despite signs of improvement from United, Boro doubled their lead on 32 minutes as Bellusci inadvertently turned George Friend’s cross from the left into his own net with a diving header.
Rosler’s men looked to respond, with both Stuart Dallas and Alex Mowatt calling Konstantopoulos into action with efforts from the edge of the area, but the hosts took their two-goal advantage into the break following a late flurry of crosses into the box on the stroke of half-time.
Both sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and United made a much more promising start to the second half as Rosler urged his team forward. Only the heroics of Konstantopoulos denied them a way back into the game on the 53rd minute, as the increasingly busy Boro ‘keeper pushed away Mowatt’s free-kick as it curled towards the top corner.
Dallas almost combined with Antenucci to work an opening inside the area, but United did have the ball in the back of the net inside the 55th minute, only to be ruled out for a late offside decision. Antenucci slotted the ball underneath Konstantopoulos and wheeled away in celebration after the linesman’s flag remained down but, after consulting the referee, the officials decided to rule the goal out for offside.
It was a contentious call and one which – had it swung in United’s favour – could have seen the momentum swing towards the visitors.
Instead, Rosler’s side continued to press for a goal which the vocal 2,652 travelling supporters deserved. Souleymane Doukara and Luke Murphy were both introduced – replacing Botaka and Dallas – but the third goal of the game eventually fell for the hosts.
Second half-substitute Diego Fabbrini capitalised on Sol Bamba’s defensive slip before rounding Silvestri to find the net and wrap up the three points with just nine minutes remaining on the clock.