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Elland Road (ATT 30,367) 23rd November 2013 - Kick off 15:00

Leeds Leeds United vs Middlesbrough M'boro

Leeds 2

R McCormack (35)
J Pearce (57)

ft

M'boro 1

J Steele (S/O 43)
M Carayol (52)

Sky Bet Championship: Aitor Karanka begins Middlesbrough reign with defeat at Leeds

Last Updated: 23/11/13 5:53pm

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Ross McCormack: Netted the opener for Leeds United

Ross McCormack: Netted the opener for Leeds United

Leeds United moved into the Sky Bet Championship top six with a 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough in Aitor Karanka's first game as Boro boss.

Boro were depleted from the 43rd minute when goalkeeper Jason Steele sprinted outside his penalty area and brought down Leeds striker Dexter Blackstock with a clumsy lunge.

Steele angrily challenged the decision in vain and Karanka immediately sent on Basel-born keeper Jayson Leutwiler, sacrificing Marvin Emnes.

A bumper crowd of over 30,000 saw Ross McCormack head Leeds into a 35th-minute lead with his seventh goal in three games and, although Mustapha Carayol equalised on 52 minutes, defender Jason Pearce nodded Leeds back in front five minutes later.

Karanka, the former defender at Real Madrid, where he spent three years as Jose Mourinho's assistant, described his arrival at Middlesbrough as a new era and a fresh start.

Although his players had an extra spring in their step as they sought to impress their new boss they gave Leeds keeper Paddy Kenny too little work.

Boro were fortunate not to concede a 21st-minute penalty when Daniel Ayala's handling offence to divert the ball away from the lurking McCormack was adjudged by referee Philip Gibbs to be just outside the box, much to McCormack's disgust.

Ayala escaped with a yellow card and Leeds failed to make the resultant free-kick count. McCormack had another penalty claim waved aside immediately afterwards when Marvin Emnes shoulder-charged him inside the box.

McCormack's response was to trick former Leeds and England defender Jonathan Woodgate on the right and cross for Blackstock to balloon over the bar from eight yards.

Livewire McCormack then created space for Danny Pugh whose drive was turned away for a corner by Steele.

McCormack's frustration finally ended when he put Leeds in front with his 13th goal of the season.

Tom Lees rose above Boro's defence to nod Luke Murphy's corner back across goal for the Scot to head in at point-blank range.

Steele's controversial departure left Boro a massive task but they equalised seven minutes after the break.

Albert Adomah's superb through ball split Leeds' defence wide open and Carayol swept a first time shot past Kenny.

Leutwiler pulled off a superb diving save from Alex Mowatt but Leeds were back in front when skipper Rudolph Austin's cross from the right was headed in at the far post by Pearce.

Karanka surprisingly replaced scorer Carayol with former Darlington striker Curtis Main 23 minutes from the end and as Leeds looked for a third goal, Mowatt again went close and Austin headed just outside a post.

Karanka must have been pleased with his side's spirit but they carried too little threat in attack.

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Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Derby County 14 26
2 Watford 14 26
3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 14 26
4 Bournemouth 14 24
5 Middlesbrough 14 24
6 Norwich City 14 23
7 Nottingham Forest 14 22
8 Blackburn Rovers 14 22
9 Charlton Athletic 14 22
10 Ipswich Town 14 21
11 Cardiff City 14 19
12 Sheffield Wednesday 14 19
13 Brentford 14 19
14 Reading 14 18
15 Millwall 14 17
16 Rotherham United 14 17
17 Huddersfield Town 14 17
18 Leeds United 14 16
19 Wigan Athletic 14 15
20 Fulham 14 14
21 Brighton and Hove Albion 14 13
22 Bolton Wanderers 14 11
23 Birmingham City 14 11
24 Blackpool 14 6