Fabrice Fernandes denied Leeds a priceless Elland Road victory as Terry Venables' side suffered another dose of the late home jitters to draw 1-1 with Southampton.
Harry Kewell's ninth goal of the season in the 73rd minute looked to have proved a match-winner but games with United these days are never over until the fat lady is singing.
For the sixth time this season, Leeds conceded a goal in the final two minutes as a seemingly innocuous Fernandes right-wing free-kick from 35 yards drifted into the area, bouncing once and beyond a clearly unaware Paul Robinson.
After a run of four successive defeats at this ground without scoring a goal, the Saints finally broke both miserable runs, albeit ensuring Leeds and Venables a less-than-happy Christmas.
The point, though, was Leeds' first at home in the Premiership since September 14, ending their own wretched record of five straight defeats and six in the last seven matches.
Despite Venables making just one enforced change to the team which celebrated what should have been a morale-boosting victory against Bolton on Monday, there was little evidence of that during a tepid first half for the home side.
Alan Smith returned from a one-match suspension to take over from Eirik Bakke in an unaccustomed role at the heart of the midfield as the Norwegian was serving his own one-game ban.
Smith added his usual tigerish bite to the role but Leeds were frustratingly off-colour again despite the unwavering support of the home faithful who, in recent weeks have turned their attentions to getting behind the team rather than booing Venables.
But despite such enthusiasm, it had little to no effect on the players who appear to be suffering from some sort of stage fright every time they take to the Elland Road pitch.
Instead, the majority of the entertainment in the opening 45 minutes came from the visitors, and in particular Frenchman Fernandes who provided most of the attacking inspiration.
After Robbie Fowler and Ian Harte curled and dragged respective shots wide of Antti Niemi's right-hand post, Southampton should have taken a 13th-minute lead.
Matt Oakley, along with Niemi the two changes made to the team which drew 1-1 with Newcastle last weekend, and Fernandes worked a delightful short corner.
Oakley took the ball on and eased past Kewell before floating in cross for Brett Ormerod in the six-yard box, but despite a free header, it just cleared the crossbar.
Leeds responded with their best effort of the half in the 18th minute as a Robinson goal-kick was nodded down into the path of Smith by Fowler and, after a chest trap, his eventual 22-yard half-volley cleared Niemi, only to land on top of the net.
Southampton then countered five minutes later with a Fernandes drive from 22 yards which Robinson spilled and although the ball ended up in the back of the net after a scramble, Ormerod had long been adjudged offside when the Frenchman fired in his shot.
The woodwork saved Leeds in the 36th minute as Fernandes and Paul Telfer worked the overlap down the right wing, allowing the latter to deliver a near-post cross which was struck first-time by Ormerod, only for the 26-year-old to be denied by the crossbar.
Fernandes then slipped in a low ball into the path of James Beattie five minutes from the break, but the Premiership's leading scorer failed to mark the occasion of his 100th league start for the Saints as his first-time right-foot shot was driven straight at a diving Robinson.
It took the 53rd minute arrival of Mark Viduka, the Australia international missing the last five games through injury, to add fire to Leeds' attack, with an ineffective Fowler making way.
Kewell was the main beneficiary of Viduka's performance as the latter's strength in holding off defenders and holding up the ball brought his team-mates into focus.
Kewell initially struck a crisp 15-yard left-foot drive which forced Niemi into his first save of the match, before Smith then glanced a Harte in-swinging corner narrowly over.
Only the intervention of a seemingly unaware Oakley on the line prevented Kewell from breaking the deadlock as his shot on the turn bounced away off the base of the post.
After a now on-song Kewell forced Niemi into a clutch save low to his left from a dipping 25-yard shot, Leeds then received a double alarm call.
Michael Svensson attacked a curling Fernandes free-kick from midway inside the Leeds half, with his header only just wide of Robinson's left-hand post, before Beattie then failed to make it 12 goals in his last nine league games due to Robinson's reaction save from a downward header.
Leeds then countered again, with Kewell cracking in a left-foot shot which Niemi superbly pushed away for a corner in the 73rd minute.
But from Harte's delivery, Leeds and Kewell then gained their just rewards as they grabbed the lead, scoring their 450th Premier League goal.
After Jonathan Woodgate's header hit the post, the rebound fell to Kewell for an eight-yard left-foot drive through a crowd of players and his ninth goal of the season.
But Leeds were then hit by a sucker, freak punch in the closing moments, and could have even lost a sixth straight home game but for Robinson redeeming himself in injury time with a full-stretch save in tipping away a raking Fernandes drive.
Gray: Confidence is key
Leeds assistant boss Eddie Gray believes a simple lack of confidence
is undermining the players when they step out onto the Elland Road pitch.
For the sixth time this season Leeds today conceded a goal in the final two
minutes of a match and on this occasion it cost Terry Venables' side two points
as Southampton fought back to claim a 1-1 draw.
Harry Kewell's ninth goal of the season in the 73rd minute had looked to be
the match-winner, only for a freak Fabrice Fernandes right-wing free-kick from
35 yards to deny Leeds a second Premiership victory in the space of six days.
Although the point was welcome, the disappointment was evident as it left
Leeds still searching for their first Elland Road victory since September 14 -
even though it did end a run of five straight Premiership defeats at home.
With Venables forced to catch a train to London soon after the final whistle
due to family business, it was left to Gray to explain this latest disappointing
'There are players in the side who can do more than they are showing at the
present time,' said Gray.
'The expectation level here is very high. There is a big crowd on the
Saturday before Christmas and the supporters here expect big things. The players
have to be able to cope with that, which is difficult when you are not winning
'You have to have the confidence to go looking for the ball and to knock it
around, but we are not doing that - we are not doing what we are capable of, but
I'm sure that will come.
'Obviously we are disappointed with this result because we got ourselves in
to a winning position and we let it slip at the end.
'But it was important that we finally stopped the run of defeats here and got
a point. Terry is at least pleased with the week following the good result at
Bolton. He is quite happy.
'If we had got the three points today it would have been terrific, but theway
things have gone for us it wasn't to be. I think once we win a game or two here
at Elland Road and start playing with that little bit of confidence then things
will be different.'
For Southampton boss and former Leeds star Gordon Strachan, who won First and
Second Division Championship medals during his six years at United, he felt the
draw was 'the least we deserved.'
The Saints have now taken 11 out of the last 15 points on offer to maintain
their lofty status in the Premiership and Strachan added: 'We are happy with a
point because they went in to the lead and we came back.
'But I'm more happy with the attitude of my players to take these knocks, the
physical and the mental knocks, to get a draw. I think it was only fair we did
'I've a good group with good confidence not arrogance. There's a glow about
them and we know what we are doing.
'They do feel they can beat other teams, but they also respect them because
they know any team can beat them.'