Middlesbrough 0 Leicester City 0
Mon 2nd Jan 12.30pm
Middlesbrough were involved in a lifeless scoreless draw with current champions Leicester City at the Riverside.
During a contest of precious few significant moments, the recalled Gaston Ramirez struck wide for the hosts following a weak defensive header.
Returning goalkeeper Brad Guzan easily collected a Leonardo Ulloa header at the opposite end as his colleagues moved five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the later fixtures.
Head coach Aitor Karanka earlier made a handful of changes from the late defeat at Manchester United after regular custodian Victor Valdes was ruled out by injury.
Christian Fuchs fired wide for the visitors during the opening exchanges and Marten de Roon's reply cleared the target, while the restored Antonio Barragan soon had to be replaced by George Friend.
Indeed substitute Friend managed to produce the first attempt of the second period from distance. But there was little in the way of genuine excitement, although the same player later saw another effort drifting wide.
Ramirez then discovered a similar fate from inside the area after Ulloa's header had already failed to stretch the home keeper as the action remained laboured and entertainment sparse.
Middlesbrough: Guzan, Barragan (Friend 34), Chambers, Gibson, Fabio, de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw (Leadbitter 89), Traore (Downing 80), Negredo, Ramirez
subs (unused): Konstantopoulos, Bernardo, Rhodes, Stuani
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mendy (Albrighton 83), Amartey, King, Okazaki (Gray 74), Ulloa, Mahrez (Musa 71)
subs (unused): Hernandez, Chilwell, Zieler, Wasilewski
Ref: R. Madley