Becchio at the double in Leeds United victory

LUCIANO Becchio scores the first of his two goals in Saturday's 2-1 win against Middlesbrough. PICTURE: IAN HARBER.
LUCIANO Becchio scores the first of his two goals in Saturday's 2-1 win against Middlesbrough. PICTURE: IAN HARBER.

LUCIANO Becchio maintained his impressive scoring record against Middlesbrough as his double brought Leeds United from behind to beat Middlesbrough 2-1.

The Whites had initially looked flat after their midweek cup exploits against Chelsea and were trailing to an unfortunate Alan Tate own goal before their Argentine striker came up with a superb strike a minute before half-time to level then found a winning header in the second period.

Becchio was making it five goals in four games against Middlesbrough and in the process took his season’s tally up to 17.

With Leeds holding on against a late Boro onslaught was a perfect end to a big week for the club after the GFH Capital takeover was completed.

Delighted manager Neil Warnock praised Becchio’s contribution to his side’s fifth win in six league games.

He said: “Luciano’s first goal was unbelievable. It was not even a half chance but a top-quality finish.

“It was the first time he had ever been on the winning side in a five-a-side game in training on Friday. He looked so lively that I said ‘is there any chance you’ll be like that tomorrow’ - and he was.

“I still feel we need another striker because Luciano can’t play week in, week out, with so many games coming up and we need someone in case he gets injured. That has to be my priority.

“It was a super day for our new owners at the end of a really positive week. I have to be delighted, especially coming from behind to beat a very good side. It was a cracking game.

“Everything’s so positive about the place now and we’ve just got to do the best we can. I was really pleased with the way we put our bodies on the line near the end, we didn’t want to concede a goal.”

Leeds initially struggled to get going and could have been behind twice in the first five minutes as Middlesbrough striker Lucas Jutkiewicz got free to send a shot into the side netting a header over.

United mustered their first decent attack on 19 minutes and forced the first save with Sam Byram’s header being superbly kept out low down by visiting stopper Jason Steele.

It was Boro who took the lead, though, on 28 minutes when Jutkiewicz went clear again and after his shot was kept out by home keeper Paddy Kenny his follow-up effort was fortunate to go in off a huge deflection off defender Tate.

The goal woke Leeds up and they could have equalised twice within four minutes as the impressive Byram burst to the edge of the box only to fire wide and Jerome Thomas got in behind the visiting defence to shoot just wide from a angle.

It was 1-1 a minute before half-time, however, when the ball fell invitingly to Becchio inside the box and his well struck volley found the net via the woodwork.

The second half was real end-to-end thriller with action straight from the restart as substitute Aidan White – on for the ill Paul Green – went on a fine to the edge of the area and hit his shot straight at Steele. At the other end, Jutkiewicz was sent clear again only to hit his shot into the side netting.

Steele saved comfortably from Michael Tonge, but was grateful to see El Hadji Diouf’s low cross just evade Thomas with the Whites now looking much more potent in attack.

Jutkiewicz continued to prove a handful to Leeds as he got clear yet again only this time to be denied by the feet of Kenny.

United put on Davide Somma for his first game for 18 months and the substitute livened things up even further with a chance soon following for Becchio, whose header was tipped over by Steele.

The visiting keeper could not deny Becchio two minutes later as his header from Diouf’s corner found the net via a deflection.

Middlesbrough threw everything at their hosts in the closing stages with Josh McEachran’s shot and Marvin Emnes’ spectacular volley both flashing just wide. An almighty scramble from a corner saw Jonathan Woodgate’s shot cleared off the line, but Leeds held on for another big three points against a team that started the day in third place.

Match facts

Leeds United 2

(Becchio 44, 73)

Middlesbrough 1

(Tate og 28)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Npower Championship

Att: 25,406

Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Tate, Peltier (Pearce 78), Green (White 45), Norris, Tonge, Thomas (Somma 69), Diouf, Becchio.

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte (Parnaby 76), Woodgate, Hines, Friend, Smallwood (Ledesma 76), Leadbitter, McEachran, McDonald (Halliday 80), Jutkiewicz, Emnes.

Referee: Paul Tierney.