Sky Bet Championship
Leeds United 2 (Hernandez 24, Alioski 54) Middlesbrough 1 (Assombalonga pen 77)
Leeds United got back to winning ways at Elland Road, with a 2-1 victory over Garry Monk’s Middlesbrough.
Stuart Dallas and Pierre-Michel Lasogga were both absent from Thomas Chrisitiansen’s squad, but Caleb Ekuban returned for the first time since the August victory away at Sunderland.
Leeds had a chance to take the lead inside six minutes, Pontus Jansson did well to get his head on a corner, but couldn’t find the target.
At the other end, Stewart Downing beat the offside trap to win Middlesbrough a corner of their own, from the resulting set-piece, Britt Assombalonga went down in the box appealing for a penalty, but a goal-kick was given.
The visitors went close in the 20th minute, Assombalonga broke down the right and played the ball across the face of goal, looking for Marcus Tavernier, the ball then fell to Downing who forced Andy Lonergan into a fine save from just outside of the area.
Leeds took the lead four minutes later, Ezgjan Alioski crossed in from the right, Kalvin Phillips provided a flick on header and Pablo Hernandez slotted home at the back post as Elland Road erupted.
Alioski then showed fine determination down the right flank to win Leeds a free-kick and from the resulting set-piece, Samuel Saiz went close with a lofted effort, but his attempt went over the crossbar.
The Whites again went close before the break from another free-kick, Hernandez delivered and Liam Cooper headed just inches wide.
Half Time: Leeds United 1-0 Middlesbrough
Leeds came out with authority in the second half, less than three minutes in, Luke Ayling broke into the box and fired just off target from a narrow angle.
The visitors then went close when Downing crossed and it fell to Tavernier at the back post, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
Less than a minute after Tavernier’s chance Leeds doubled the lead, Kemar Roofe made a fantastic run forwards with the ball, before laying the ball off to Hernandez on the right, just inside the box, the Spaniard then played the ball across the face of goal, putting it on a plate for Alioski to score.
Middlesbrough had the chance to immediately reduce the two goal deficit when Tavernier again got on the end of a ball into the Leeds box, but this time he could only fire wide.
It was end to end, with Leeds almost adding a third, Ronaldo Vieira teed up Saiz to strike from 25 yards, but his low effort was denied by the post.
United then had Luke Ayling to thank, clearing an effort from Braithwaite off the line, following a cross by Connor Roberts.
Just after the hour mark, Leeds had a big chance, Hernandez whipped in a free-kick and Cooper had a free header, but could only put it wide.
Assombalonga then cut in from the left side, before firing on goal from the edge of the box and fired a shot which went just wide of the goal.
In the 76th minute, Middlesbrough were awarded a penalty, following a corner, with Ayling booked for a foul. Assombalonga stepped up and scored the spot-kick to set up a nervy finish.
Five minutes from time, the visitors could have leveled, Lonergan punched a cross away as far as Braithwaite who fired on goal and his effort deflected just wide.
Vieira then lost possession to former Leeds midfielder Jonny Howson, who fired at goal, but luckily for the Whites his effort deflected off target.
The Whites then saw out over seven minutes of added time to secure all three points, despite pressure from the visitors.
Full Time: Leeds United 2-1 Middlesbrough
Leeds: Lonergan, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, Phillips, Hernandez, Alioski (Pennington 90), Saiz (O’Kane 88), Roofe (Ekuban 79). Subs not used: Wiedwald, Anita, Grot, O’Kane, Sacko, Ekuban.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Friend (Traore 65), Ayala, Gibson, Leadbitter (Fletcher 71), Assombalonga, Braithwaite, Howson, Downing, Roberts, Tavernier (Johnson 56). Subs not used: Konstantopoulos, Fabio, Fry, Forshaw.
Referee: K. Stroud
Booked: Berardi, Jansson, Ayling, Phillips, Hernandez (Leeds), Friend, Assombalonga, Howson (Middlesbrough)
Venue: Elland Road
Attendance: 33,771 (2,535 Middlesbrough)