Leeds go second with 4-3 win at Middlesbrough

Promotion-chasing Leeds United climbed to second in the Championship with a thrilling victory at Middlesbrough which ended their three-game winless run. The home side took an early lead when Isaiah Jones tucked in a loose ball, but the Whites quickly levelled through Crysencio Summerville’s penalty after a clumsy foul by Anfernee Dijksteel on Georginio Rutter.

Leeds went in front just four minutes later when Patrick Bamford converted Junior Firpo’s wicked cross from the left, only for in-form Emmanuel Latte Lath to level for Boro with a thumping right-footed finish from 18 yards.

Willy Gnonto finished well after being played in by Summerville to put Leeds 3-2 up at the break, although replays showed the Italy forward had been offside when the pass was played. Summerville, the Championship’s player of the season, looked to have put Leeds in the clear with a classy effort after being played in down the left and cutting back on to his right before Latte Lath’s tremendous looping header set up a tense final few minutes.

The three points move Leeds back up to second, though they have now played a game more than Ipswich.

Leaders Leicester would have been able to secure promotion to the Premier League with a win over Southampton on Tuesday had the Whites lost on Teesside.

Meanwhile, defeat for Michael Carrick’s men ended their nine-match unbeaten run and their faint hopes of reaching the play-offs.

Incredibly, in December’s reverse fixture at Elland Road Leeds were also 3-2 up at half-time. Although the teams could not match the three goals in the opening seven minutes in West Yorkshire, it was another frenetic start in this encounter.

Boro took the lead when Finn Azaz’s attempted through ball deflected into the path of Latte Lath who managed to nick the ball on to Jones and he tapped into an empty net. Leeds had lost two of their previous three games and scored just once in that time but drew level almost immediately.

Rutter beat Dijksteel, in for the ineligible Luke Ayling, and the Dutchman brought him down in the area to allow Summerville to coolly despatch his 19th goal of the season.

Former Boro striker Bamford put Leeds in front when he turned Firpo’s cross in with his hip despite the home defence and keeper Seny Dieng appealing for offside.

Latte Lath made it 2-2 with a fabulous shot as he ran across the face of the 18-yard box but Gnonto had Leeds in front at the end of a topsy-turvy first 45 minutes with a measured finish after an incisive attack.

The second half struggled to live up to the action-packed nature of the first as Leeds were content to allow the home side to have possession and look to play on the counter.

That worked perfectly when they won the ball back on the halfway line and Firpo shifted the ball out to the superb Summerville who cut in and curled home.

Boro, who had to win to retain any hopes of keeping their play-off bid alive, were understandably deflated by that and the game seemed to be petering out before Latte Lath scored with a wonderfully improvised header from Alex Gilbert’s long ball forward.

Handed an unlikely lifeline they threw everything at trying to find another goal, with Dieng coming up for numerous late set-pieces, but Leeds held out for a first win since 1 April.

Leeds travel to QPR on Friday in their final away game of the season and could be four points clear of Ipswich before the Tractor Boys visit Hull on Saturday.

“I largely enjoyed it. I thought it was a good game of football and we more than contributed to that.

“I thought there was a lot for the boys to be proud of. I’m happy really for the performance but gutted for the result.

“I was frustrated with the time added on at the end and the clear offside goal [Gnonto’s third for Leeds]. We’re asking the lads to be a unit and hold the line and you’ve got to trust the linesman. It was fantastic defending and he’s a yard offside.”

“First of all it was a good advertisement for Championship football. Both teams really went for it and wanted to win.

“They played more or less with freedom and came in unbeaten in nine games but we showed such a great reaction, with fire in our heart.

“The last six or seven minutes were crazy, with their goalkeeper more in our box than theirs. They tried everything and we felt the pressure but we showed steel and resilience.”



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