Leeds waited until stoppage time to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches thanks to Luciano Becchio's strike.
David Wheater opened the scoring on 20 minutes when he glanced in Julio Arca's in-swinging corner and Arca could have extended Boro's lead when he shot wide.
Lacklustre Leeds burst into life when Lloyd Sam went close after a fine run and shot, but it looked like they would lose before Becchio intervened.
Ross McCormack then had a great chance to win it but his header was wide.
Leeds' performance was, at times, worthy of a New Year's Day hangover, and during the second half even the Boro fans were asking their Leeds counterparts if they could sing a song for them.
But the victory moves them into third place in the Championship while Middlesbrough's supporters will travel back to Teesside buoyed by a sterling display, although they will be heartbroken by Becchio's lifeline which, frankly, got the hosts out of jail.
Wheater, who could leave the club in the January transfer window according to Boro boss Tony Mowbray, had a chance to open the scoring before his first-half header, but he miscued when well-placed in the penalty area.
Robert Snodgrass then went close with a dipping shot before Wheater glanced in the opening goal.
There was some debate as to whether the Boro centre-back got the vital touch, with Becchio and Neill Collins in close attendance, but the finish did much to settle the visitors as they took a firm grip on the first half.
Arca, Scott McDonald and left-back Joe Bennett were linking well in the middle of the park and only Andy O'Brien's close-range shot from a corner was worthy of note for Leeds.
But McCormack's free-kick on 59 minutes seemed to inject the hosts with some energy as he shot narrowly wide and Sam's fine run and shot was even closer moments later.
Bennett was proving a positive influence throughout and his twisting run would have merited a fine goal, but he did not manage to keep his shot down.
Despite Leeds' brief flurry, they failed to engineer any fluency to their play and a sign of their fortunes was shown by the inaccuracy of Snodgrass, whose angled shot inside the area was heading for a throw-in before it was intercepted.
Thankfully for the midfielder, Becchio was on hand to spare the hosts with a strike from 12 yards, his 12th of the season, when Boro keeper Jason Steele punched out to him.
But McCormack will be regretting his late miss, although that would have been mighty harsh on the visitors, who were resolute throughout.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 1 January 2011
07 Gradel (Sam 56)
14 Howson yellow card
16 Johnson yellow card
22 Hughes yellow card (Kilkenny 56)
23 Snodgrass (Watt 76)
08 Thomson (Robson 25 yellow card)
20 Arca yellow card
07 McDonald (McMahon 78)
15 Lita (Boyd 71)
Ref: WebsterAtt: 30,452
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:12 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+3:02 Sanchez Watt delivers the ball, Headed effort on goal by Ross McCormack from inside the penalty box misses to the right of
90:00+0:38 GOAL - Luciano Becchio:Leeds 1 - 1 Middlesbrough Luciano Becchio gets on the score sheet with a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the top right corner of the goal.
Leeds 1-1 Middlesbrough.
89:44 Neil Kilkenny sends in a cross, Julio Arca manages to make a clearance.
88:51 Jonathan Howson produces a cross, volleyed left-footed shot by Sanchez Watt. Save made by Jason Steele.
88:04 The ball is sent over by Paul Connolly, clearance made by David Wheater.
85:49 Right-footed shot by Ross McCormack.
81:56 Unfair challenge on Neil Kilkenny by Joe Bennett results in a free kick. Kasper Schmeichel takes the indirect free kick.
80:42 Neil Kilkenny sends in a cross, Headed effort from inside the area by Sanchez Watt misses to the left of the target.
Correction - 80:20 Corner taken by Sanchez Watt, save by Jason Steele.
80:20 Lloyd Sam takes the inswinging corner, Jason Steele makes a save.
79:52 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sanchez Watt by Nicky Bailey. Kasper Schmeichel restarts play with the free kick.
77:35 Substitution Scott McDonald leaves the field to be replaced by Tony McMahon.
77:27 A cross is delivered by Sanchez Watt.
Correction - 75:50 Luciano Becchio is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
Correction - 75:50 Substitution Sanchez Watt joins the action as a substitute, replacing Robert Snodgrass.
75:50 Luciano Becchio is caught offside. Jason Steele takes the free kick.
75:50 Substitution Sanchez Watt is brought on as a substitute for Robert Snodgrass.
72:55 Joe Bennett produces a cross, clearance made by Andrew O'Brien.
72:20 Free kick awarded for a foul by Kris Boyd on Andrew O'Brien. Kasper Schmeichel restarts play with the free kick.
71:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kris Boyd by Bradley Johnson. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.
70:45 Foul by Barry Robson on Neil Kilkenny, free kick awarded. Paul Connolly takes the free kick, The ball is sent over by Justin
Hoyte, David Wheater manages to make a clearance.
70:45 Substitution Kris Boyd comes on in place of Leroy Lita.
69:57 A cross is delivered by Bradley Johnson.
68:59 Joe Bennett challenges Ross McCormack unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kasper Schmeichel takes the free kick.
68:17 Unfair challenge on Joe Bennett by Robert Snodgrass results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Barry Robson
from left wing, Luciano Becchio manages to make a clearance.
67:23 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Robson by Paul Connolly. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Bennett.
66:38 Lloyd Sam produces a cross, Effort from the edge of the box by Jonathan Howson goes wide of the left-hand post.
65:56 Ross McCormack has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.
65:14 Shot from just outside the box by Joe Bennett misses to the left of the target.
62:52 Barry Robson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass. Neil Kilkenny produces a cross, Header by
Neill Collins from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
62:52 Booking Barry Robson goes into the book.
61:19 Bradley Johnson challenges Marvin Emnes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.
60:24 Lloyd Sam produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that goes wide left of the target.
58:49 Julio Arca concedes a free kick for a foul on Ross McCormack. Strike comes in from Ross McCormack from the free kick.
58:49 Booking The referee shows Julio Arca a yellow card.
57:51 Handball decision goes against Barry Robson. Neil Kilkenny takes the free kick.
56:52 Shot by Ross McCormack from outside the box goes over the net.
55:10 Substitution (Leeds) makes a substitution, with Neil Kilkenny coming on for Andy Hughes.
55:10 Substitution Lloyd Sam replaces Max Gradel.
53:20 Joe Bennett concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul Connolly. Free kick crossed by Bradley Johnson.
51:41 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jonathan Howson on Scott McDonald. Free kick taken by Matthew Bates.
51:41 Booking Caution for Jonathan Howson.
50:49 Corner from left by-line taken by Robert Snodgrass.
49:10 Ross McCormack concedes a free kick for a foul on Joe Bennett. Jason Steele takes the free kick.
48:08 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Julio Arca from the left by-line, save by Kasper Schmeichel.
48:00 The ball is delivered by Joe Bennett, Neill Collins makes a clearance.
46:47 Marvin Emnes sends in a cross, Neill Collins makes a clearance.
45:40 The assistant referee flags for offside against Luciano Becchio. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+2:21 The half-time whistle blows.
45:00+1:43 Scott McDonald fouled by Bradley Johnson, the ref awards a free kick. David Wheater restarts play with the free kick.
45:00+1:43 Booking Bradley Johnson goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
44:59 Shot from outside the area by Bradley Johnson misses to the left of the goal.
43:55 Unfair challenge on Luciano Becchio by Matthew Bates results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Bradley Johnson.
41:56 Robert Snodgrass challenges Barry Robson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.
40:51 Shot from 25 yards by Jonathan Howson. Jason Steele makes a save.
39:13 Andy Hughes challenges Marvin Emnes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Julio Arca fires a strike on goal direct from the
39:13 Booking Andy Hughes goes into the book.
38:53 The ball is swung over by Barry Robson.
38:00 Free kick awarded for a foul by Bradley Johnson on Barry Robson. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
37:31 Andrew O'Brien fouled by Nicky Bailey, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Kasper Schmeichel.
37:21 The ball is swung over by Marvin Emnes, clearance by Andy Hughes.
36:31 A cross is delivered by Scott McDonald, Andy Hughes makes a clearance. Julio Arca has an effort at goal from just outside
the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
35:10 Robert Snodgrass takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Shot from inside the six-yard box by Andrew
O'Brien goes wide right of the goal.
34:25 Unfair challenge on Ross McCormack by David Wheater results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Andy Hughes
from left channel.
34:18 Luciano Becchio produces a cross, save by Jason Steele.
30:30 Paul Connolly concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicky Bailey. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
28:07 Max Gradel crosses the ball.
25:13 Centre by Andy Hughes.
24:11 Substitution Barry Robson is brought on as a substitute for Kevin Thomson.
23:00 Max Gradel produces a cross, Nicky Bailey makes a clearance.
21:46 The ball is sent over by Paul Connolly.
20:52 Unfair challenge on Neill Collins by Leroy Lita results in a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Neill Collins.
19:34 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Julio Arca from the right by-line, assist on the goal came from Julio Arca.
19:34 GOAL - David Wheater:Leeds 0 - 1 Middlesbrough David Wheater gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top left corner of the goal. Leeds 0-1
16:33 Andy Hughes concedes a free kick for a foul on Marvin Emnes. Free kick crossed by Julio Arca, David Wheater challenges Neill
Collins unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Kasper Schmeichel.
15:38 Robert Snodgrass challenges Julio Arca unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kevin Thomson restarts play with the free kick.
15:09 Nicky Bailey has a shot on goal from long range that goes wide left.
13:30 Foul by Luciano Becchio on Matthew Bates, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
10:59 The assistant referee flags for offside against Leroy Lita. Kasper Schmeichel takes the free kick.
8:53 Shot by Robert Snodgrass from outside the box goes over the net.
6:09 Foul by Max Gradel on Kevin Thomson, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.
5:20 Centre by Julio Arca.
4:37 Unfair challenge on Julio Arca by Luciano Becchio results in a free kick. Matthew Bates restarts play with the free kick.
3:25 Unfair challenge on Leroy Lita by Neill Collins results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Kevin Thomson.
0:25 Centre by Ross McCormack.
0:00 The referee gets the game started.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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