Aden Flint struck a dramatic equaliser five minutes into stoppage time to salvage a point for City on a night of late drama at Ashton Gate.
The hosts were on the front foot for much of the first half but were heavily outnumbered when the visitors broke from a City corner to win a penalty when Ben Hamer was adjudged to have upended Mirco Antenucci.
The Italian duly stepped up to put Leeds in front five minutes before the interval, while former City loanee Chris Wood finished with aplomb seven minutes into the second half to double the lead.
Substitute Kieran Agard threw Steve Cotterill’s men a lifeline with only a minute of normal time still to play, before Flint bundled home an even later equaliser.
It would be another frenetic start at Ashton Gate, as City took the game to their visitors from the off.
Joe Bryan whipped an early cross in towards Aaron Wilbraham at the near post that needed emergency action from Sol Bamba, who collided with the upright in clearing the danger.
Luke Ayling glanced the resulting corner well wide before Ryan Fredericks went into the book for a lunging tackle on Tom Adeyemi.
City were very much on the front foot and Callum Robinson, starting in place of the suspended Luke Freeman, fired over from 20 yards inside the first ten minutes.
Adeyemi headed over from a Kalvin Phillips cross before Fredericks delivered towards Robinson and saw the ball run free for Jonathan Kodjia, whose snapshot was turned around the near post by goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
Again it was a City head who connected with the resulting set-piece, as this time Flint’s header was cleared by Stuart Dallas on the post.
Then Bryan combined with Robinson with a slick one-two that completely opened up the right side of the Leeds defence, forcing Silvestri to save from the Bristolian’s daisy-cutter.
City had been the better side but would find themselves behind five minutes before the break with a goal that started from their own corner.
When Marlon Pack’s flag kick was cleared as far as Fredericks, the wing-back was caught in possession and the yellow shirts of Leeds poured forward.
With only Korey Smith left between the visitors and Ben Hamer’s goal, the last man was helpless against four attackers and when Wood fed Antenucci, Hamer was forced to vacate his line.
The Italian’s touch took him wide but the City keeper did not get the ball and always ran the risk of being penalised – despite contact with the player looking minimal at best.
In any case, Antenucci picked himself up to beat Hamer with a composed spot-kick straight down the middle.
The response from the home team was not slow in coming, but Silvestri made amends after parrying Wilbraham’s shot by getting the slightest touch on Kodjia’s follow-up when the Frenchman looked destined to equalise.
Wilbraham forced another save from Silvestri soon after half-time, collecting Bryan’s low cross and shooting sharply on the turn against the keeper’s legs.
If City felt aggrieved to be behind at the interval they had every right, but the counter-attack would be their own worst enemy again as Leeds struck again seven minutes into the second period.
A move that started when Fredericks exchanged passes with Wilbraham to find a cross from the byeline saw Wilbraham caught late and go down injured.
Nevertheless the attack continued as City kept up the pressure without putting the ball out for their captain to receive treatment.
When the ball was turned over the visitors were quite within their rights to continue, and Antenucci carried possession towards the edge of the box and rolled the ball to Wood, who cut inside and dispatched a left-footed shot inside Hamer’s right-hand post.
Cotterill’s response was to introduce Wes Burns for Fredericks and Bobby Reid for Robinson soon after.
Both men threatened to create an opening to halve the deficit, as Burns whipped a teasing cross just beyond the stretching Wilbraham and Reid stood one up to the back post for Kodjia but just overran the ball in the process.
Leeds had drawn all three of their league and cup games leading up to the fixture, including exiting the Capital One Cup on penalties, and that resilience was clear to see as City were forced to be patient in the final third.
Crunching tackles in quick succession from Smith and Pack brought a reaction from the crowd and underlined the commitment of the players, but there was a savviness about the visiting team that comes from years of experience at Championship level.
However, Reid’s pass set up Agard to score via Silvestri’s near post with a well-taken goal to offer hope of a revival, before the striker headed Burns’ cross into the side-netting in the first of six added minutes.
Ashton Gate found its voice as the home fans urged their team forward, and Flint was the hero as he turned Reid’s corner into the net from point-blank range in a remarkable finale.