Leeds United clung onto an early goal by Alex Mowatt to stun Sky Bet Championship leaders Middlesbrough at The Riverside in the Saturday lunchtime game.
A 1-0 success saw the Whites climb into the top half of the table as they did the double over Middlesbrough, having also beaten them by the same margin at Elland Road earlier this season.
It was the first time in more than three years that Leeds have won three successive away games and it was a tribute to their improved defence as they came under big pressure from the team starting the day at the top of the pile.
But United did make the perfect start when just three minutes in Lewis Cook seized upon a throw out by home keeper Tomas Mejias and surged to the edge of the box before laying the ball inside for Alex Mowatt to power in a shot that deflected off defender Gibson into the corner of the net.
The rest of the first half, however, was something of a rearguard action as Middlesbrough created plenty of opportunities, but could not get the ball past Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri.
Kike was first to be denied by the Italian keeper after leaving Giuseppe Bellusci for dead in the box then Jelle Vossen’s volley was well saved.
Silvestri just managed to get enough on another Vossen effort and Bellusci cleared the ball off the line.
Vossen could not believe it as his flick was kept out by Silvestri before Grant Leadbitter dragged a side wide when free at the edge of the box.
Silvestri’s best save was still to come as he acrobatically tipped Kike’s deflected shot over.
Leeds finally relieved the pressure when Sam Byram and Scott Wootton got in each other’s way to get on the end of a Steve Morison cross to spoil a promising attack. But it was Boro in attack again with Adam Clayton’s shot tipped away by Silvestri.
United did have a chance, however, in first half injury-time when Sol Bamba headed just wide from Luke Murphy’s corner.
A fast start to the second half saw Kike’s curling shot saved by Silvestri before Leeds came within inches of a doubling their lead with Wootton heading Murphy’s free-kick against the crossbar.
Silvestri was soon back in the action, making more saves to deny Kike and Albert Adomah’s driven cross.
But United gradually eased the pressure and it needed Mejias to be alert to save at the feet of Morison.
Vossen’s 20-yarder was tipped wide by Silvestri and George Friend blazed a shot high and wide soon after before a fantastic block by Bamba prevented Kike from getting a shot away.
But the hosts ran out of steam and went down to 10 men for the closing stages after Vossen was carried off with a head injury after they had already made their three substitutions.
Leeds were forced to play more than 10 minutes of added time, but defended stoutly and looked a threat on the break.
Late on Wootton made a mess of a good chance when meeting Mowatt’s cross and Austin forced a save from Mejias with a strong drive from range.
Friend did have a header deflected over, but United held on well for their fifth win in six games. Remarkably they have now done the double over the top two in the table.
Proud Leeds head coach Redfearn said: “I thought the application and desire to win, the togetherness was top class.
“The football as well, we created some good chances.
“Middlesbrough are a top side and play some good football, but you could see we were not going to be beaten today. There was a resilience about us and it’s gathering momentum.
“From one to 11 the application and desire to cover one another and block and get their bodies in the way when we were under pressure. And then have the presence of mind to play as well. I thought we played some good stuff. It was a great performance.
“The lads have been growing in confidence steadily week by week. We are on a good run.
“The lads have got the bit between their teeth. We’ve uncomplicated things and found a way of playing, you can see the lads believe in it.”
Leeds United 1
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Sky Bet Championship
Middlesbrough: Mejias, Nsue (Bamford 66), Kalas, Gibson, Friend, Leadbitter (Forshaw 80), Clayton, Adomah, Reach (Tomlin 57), Vossen (inj 88), Kike.
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci (Cooper 90), C Taylor, Byram, Austin, Murphy, Cook, Mowatt, Morison.
Referee: Andre Marriner.