Mark Viduka's last-minute winner gave Leeds United their first victory of the season in an entertaining contest at the Riverside. The Australian capitalised on a slip from Middlesbrough's Andrew Davies and lobbed Mark Schwarzer to complete an unlikely victory for his side.
It was particularly harsh on the young central defender, who impressed throughout, and both Viduka and Alan Smith were quick to console him after the final whistle.
After falling behind early, Middlesbrough turned the game on its head with two quick strikes around the hour mark. It appeared that would be enough to give them a deserved win but sloppy defending - and then Davies' misfortune - means they only have a single point from their opening four matches.
"We got the break at the right time," admitted the Leeds manager Peter Reid. "It was a really good match with lots of chances and plenty of mistakes. I felt for young Davies but we did keep going and we went for it at the end.
"We needed that win because, as a club, I think we'd forgotten how to win." As expected, the Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, gave a debut to Danny Mills against his permanent employers following his season-long loan deal. He should have put his new side in front within 10 minutes but headed wide when unmarked at a corner. Gaizka Mendieta was also making his first appearance at the Riverside. Although still coming to terms with the Premiership, his class was apparent in the third minute when a sumptuous dummy embarrassed Ian Harte.
Neither team looked convincing defensively and it was no surprise when Leeds took the lead after 15 minutes. The impressive Jermaine Pennant, on loan from Arsenal, cut infield before slipping the ball through to Lamine Sakho, who finished neatly for his first goal in English football.
The home side enjoyed plenty of possession and chances in the opening period but Juninho and Joseph-Desiré Job were both guilty of wasting good chances when the Leeds defence was stretched.
Two goals in as many minutes changed the game. First, on the hour, Middlesbrough deservedly equalised when Szilard Nemeth turned well in the penalty box and slipped the ball past the advancing Paul Robinson into the corner.
Then Leeds could only half clear a free kick and Juninho scored with a dipping shot from the edge of the area. But with the game in their grasp, Middlesbrough conceded the softest of equalisers when Pennant's well-flighted corner was met by a completely unmarked Zoumana Camara.
"We created enough chances to have won five or six games," said McClaren. "We are not having any luck but there's not much wrong and I am certainly not too concerned about our position just yet."
Nemeth 60, Juninho 63
Leeds United 3
Sakho 16, Camara 77, Viduka 89
Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 30,414
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