Leeds United draw a blank against Middlesbrough

Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara reacts after failing to score against Middlesbrough.Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara reacts after failing to score against Middlesbrough.
Leeds United's Souleymane Doukara reacts after failing to score against Middlesbrough.
Leeds United failed to find the target again, but were encouraged by a goalless draw against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough at a cold Elland Road.

Boro had lost on their last three visits to Leeds and were grateful to their goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos for taking home a point on this occasion after he made two outstanding saves to deny Souleymane Doukara in the second half.

In a game that deserved to see a goal the visitors also had their chances, but the Whites definitely deserved some reward for their efforts.

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Leeds, unchanged from the side that lost the previous game to Nottingham Forest, started brightly and could have been in front in the fifth minute as Giuseppe Bellusci swept a great ball out to Doukara, who took it in his stride on the left flank and pulled the ball back perfectly for strike partner Mirco Antenucci. But the Italian saw his shot blocked then as the ball was swiftly put back in Stuart Dallas could not make much contact with a header that was deflected over.

Middlesbrough had their first sight of goal on 13 minutes when Marco Silvestri could only get a weak punch to a cross and Gaston Ramirez’s low follow-up shot was cleared off the line by Bellusci.

A 30-yard effort by Dael Fry was comfortably dealt with by Silvestri and Boro’s big signing, Jordan Rhodes, had the ball in the net with a header, but the flag had already gone up for the ball being out of play.

For all their possession United failed to create a clear chance in the first half although they did go close on the half-hour when Ritchie De Laet turned Charlie Taylor’s back-post corner against his own crossbar. No home player reacted and the ball was then cleared.

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Doukara then almost broke the deadlock with a piece of magic just outside the box as he turned quickly and hit a dipping first time shot that went just over.

The second half saw Middlesbrough come more into the game and Bellusci had to clear from Emilio Nsue’s downwards header as it looked to be sneaking in.

Christian Stuani then hit his far post volley into the ground to send the ball over when well placed in the box and the chances were beginning to come for the visitors.

Another chance saw Stuani head over before he was replaced by winger Albert Adomah. Boro also brought on former England striker David Nugent at the same time as they looked to push on.

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Leeds put on fit again midfielder Alex Mowatt in place of the disappointing Dallas and promptly created their best chance of the night, Doukara getting on the end of Taylor’s free-kick to send a header goalwards only to see Konstantopoulos make a superb save on his line.

At the other end Rhodes finally got free, but saw his angled strike beaten away by Silvestri.

Another chance fell to £9 million man Rhodes on 81 minutes when he beat Silvestri to get to Adomah’s cross only to send the ball wide.

Stewart Downing sent a shot from range straight at Silvestri before the action switched to the other end again with Doukara heading just wide,

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Middlesbrough went down to 10 men on 88 minutes when defender Ben Gibson received his second yellow card for a foul on sub Lee Erwin.

It was the cue for a big finish from United and they came close to a winner in injury-time when Doukara got in behind the visitors’ defence only to see his shot saved by Konstantopoulos’s legs.

Taylor then hammered a first-time half-volley over after a corner had only been half-cleared.

But Leeds could not quite get the ball into the net to force a win and had to settle for a point.

Match facts

Middlesbrough 0

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 20,424

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Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Cook, Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Dallas (Mowatt 71), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 79).

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Fry, Gibson, De Laet, Leadbitter, Clayton, Stuani (Nugent 67), Ramirez (Adomah 67), Downing, Rhodes (Kalas 90).

Referee: Craig Pawson.