Middlesbrough moved to the top of the Championship as Jordan Rhodes’ first goal for the club earned a late draw against MK Dons.
Dean Bowditch scuffed a shot under Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos from a Kyle McFadzean pass to give Dons the lead.
David Nugent squandered the chance to equalise after the break, poking wide with just David Martin to beat.
But Rhodes secured a point for Boro in added time when he headed Ritchie de Laet’s cross over Martin.
Named as a substitute for the second game in a row since moving from Blackburn Rovers for £9m, Rhodes came on to rescue a point for Boro when it seemed struggling MK Dons had secured a shock win.
The result meant Boro moved a point clear of Hull City at the top, while the visitors also climbed a place – to 20th, three points above the relegation zone.
With the Dons leading 1-0, referee Andy Davies waved away appeals for a penalty just before the break for a challenge by Tomas Kalas on Josh Murphy.
Boro came close to restoring parity when Martin parried Gaston Ramirez’s shot into the path of De Laet, but McFadzean blocked the defender’s follow-up shot on the line.
And the visitors were forced to wait until Rhodes’ injury-time intervention to draw level.
MK Dons head manager Karl Robinson:
“I’m gutted. I said to my staff that we might have scored too early against one of the best teams in the league.
“I’m so proud of the players but one individual error has cost us again. That’s the man in the middle.
“Josh Murphy should have had a blatant penalty in the first half, and the referee is looking right down the line. They’ve got a massive slice of luck with that.
“I don’t know what he’s seen. The player has touched it to one side, the ball isn’t out of play and he’s been clattered. We got no decisions, we were the little team on the pitch and it felt like that.
“We tried to match Middlesbrough at their own game, but you look at their team and their squad list in front of you and it’s daunting.”
Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka:
“It was an amazing, massive point because this game was tough. The main thing is we are at the top of the table with a game in hand so I am really pleased, the players are really pleased.
“If we had scored at the beginning of the second half we would have won the game for sure.
“When you have the players I have on the pitch when we are in the box we are going to score goals whether it is at the beginning of the game or the end of the game.
“The last three or four games haven’t gone the way we would have wanted but sometimes I think we forget which position we are in because we are now in an amazing position.
“If you had said to me or the supporters in the summer that we could be in this position at this time of the season, we would have signed up for that.”