Derby's recent dominance over Leeds continued as Jamie Ward's second-half strike earned the Rams a sixth straight win over the Whites.
Ward, who hit the post in the first half, fired in from close range after United keeper Andy Lonergan parried his initial effort.
Robert Snodgrass went closest for Leeds but his free-kick was was tipped over by Rams keeper Frank Fielding.
The result leaves Leeds without a win in three games.
United's manager Simon Grayson was marking three years in charge of the Elland Road club on Boxing Day but his side struggled to make it a happy celebration.
Fielding was equal to Ross McCormack's 35-yard effort while the Rams stopper also denied Snodgrass and beat away a drive from Danny Pugh.
However, the visitors created little else and they found themselves behind when Ward tucked in to his third of the season after Lonergan failed to hold his first shot.
Fielding made a late double save to deny McCormack and Adam Clayton to ensure Derby recorded just their second win in nine games.
Derby manager Nigel Clough: "I thought the performance, all round, was a proper team one. The players were fighting for each other against one of the strongest sides in the division.
"It's ironic that we had more defending to do than in the last four games, and that's the one where we've kept a clean sheet.
"The players knew it (pressure) was coming and would have to deal with it, and did. It was a good, old-fashioned Boxing Day ding-dong with a lot of effort and endeavour."
Leeds manager Simon Grayson: "[There is] always pressure as manager of Leeds United and expectancy from everybody. I put pressure on myself.
"Ken Bates has given me three years so far, two years more than most managers get throughout the country. We're still in the top half, ready to kick on.
"I know what's required at this football club because it means a lot to me and I'll be doing my best to get us to kick on.
"I've had meetings with Ken Bates and identified the targets we'd like to bring in and hopefully we can once the window opens."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee ends the match.89:08
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass, Ramon Nunez takes a shot. Blocked by Gareth Roberts. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Robert Snodgrass.89:08 Substitution
Substitution Callum Ball leaves the field to be replaced by Mark O'Brien.88:47
The referee blows for offside against Theo Robinson. Free kick taken by Michael Brown.87:59
Shot from just outside the box by Ross McCormack goes over the bar.86:48
Adam Clayton takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.86:14
Ross McCormack takes a shot. Save by Frank Fielding.85:46
Callum Ball gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ramon Nunez. Michael Brown takes the free kick.85:16
Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Shaun Barker.85:16 Booking
Booking Caution for Shaun Barker.85:01
Unfair challenge on Ross McCormack by Shaun Barker results in a free kick.87:25
Short corner taken by Robert Snodgrass, clearance by Jason Shackell.83:29
Callum Ball challenges Paul Connolly unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Andy Lonergan.82:55
James Bailey fouled by Adam Clayton, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Frank Fielding.81:38
Centre by Paul Green.79:37
Andrew Keogh gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jason Shackell. Frank Fielding takes the direct free kick.79:21
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Paul Connolly by Theo Robinson. Andy Lonergan takes the direct free kick.77:07
Andrew Keogh gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jason Shackell. Free kick taken by Frank Fielding.76:55
Robert Snodgrass takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.76:08
Adam Clayton crosses the ball, Frank Fielding makes a save.
Andrew Keogh delivers the ball, Craig Bryson makes a clearance.74:53
The ball is crossed by Paul Connolly, clearance made by Shaun Barker.74:31
Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass, Jason Shackell manages to make a clearance.74:21
Ramon Nunez sends in a cross, clearance by Gareth Roberts.73:28 Substitution
Substitution Ramon Nunez on for Aidan White.71:44
Andrew Keogh challenges John Brayford unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Frank Fielding.71:07
Inswinging corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the right by-line, Frank Fielding makes a save.70:57
Robert Snodgrass crosses the ball, Jason Shackell manages to make a clearance.70:44
Adam Clayton takes a shot. Blocked by Shaun Barker.70:15
Outswinging corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the left by-line, Paul Green makes a clearance.69:43
Free kick taken by Gareth Roberts.69:43 Booking
Booking The referee cautions Michael Brown for unsporting behaviour.69:22
Unfair challenge on Gareth Roberts by Michael Brown results in a free kick.67:03 Substitution
Substitution Andrew Keogh replaces Luciano Becchio.66:38
Assist on the goal came from Craig Bryson.66:38 Goal scored
Goal! - Jamie Ward - Derby 1 - 0 Leeds Jamie Ward finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Derby 1-0 Leeds.66:36
Jamie Ward takes a shot. Andy Lonergan makes a save.65:05
Corner from right by-line taken by Jamie Ward.64:01
Direct free kick taken by Frank Fielding.64:01 Substitution
Substitution Theo Robinson on for Nathan Tyson.64:01
The referee penalises Ross McCormack for handball.61:03
Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Snodgrass on Gareth Roberts. Direct free kick taken by Frank Fielding.59:22
Foul by Nathan Tyson on Patrick Kisnorbo, free kick awarded. Andy Lonergan takes the free kick.58:20
Handball by Ross McCormack. Direct free kick taken by Frank Fielding.57:51
Danny Pugh takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.55:11
A cross is delivered by Ross McCormack, Header from close range by Robert Snodgrass misses to the right of the target.54:15
Effort from the edge of the area by Callum Ball goes wide of the right-hand upright.52:08
Jamie Ward concedes a free kick for a foul on Robert Snodgrass. Robert Snodgrass delivers the ball, Header from deep inside the area by Patrick Kisnorbo goes harmlessly over the crossbar.50:59
Gareth Roberts has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.50:49
A cross is delivered by Jamie Ward, clearance by Danny Pugh.50:15
Paul Green concedes a free kick for a foul on Aidan White. Danny Pugh restarts play with the free kick.47:17
James Bailey has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.46:31
Corner taken right-footed by Jamie Ward, clearance by Darren O'Dea.46:08
Frank Fielding takes the direct free kick.46:08 Booking
Booking Luciano Becchio shown a yellow card.45:56
Unfair challenge on Jason Shackell by Luciano Becchio results in a free kick.45:20
Centre by James Bailey.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:00 +3:27 Half time
Half Time The first half comes to an end.45:00 +1:50
Free kick awarded for a foul by Luciano Becchio on Paul Green. Jason Shackell takes the direct free kick.44:16
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Barker by Ross McCormack. Shaun Barker takes the free kick.42:49
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Shaun Barker by Ross McCormack. Jason Shackell restarts play with the free kick.42:19
Effort by Jamie Ward from a long way out goes over the crossbar.41:21 Substitution
Substitution Paul Connolly joins the action as a substitute, replacing Tom Lees.40:00
Jamie Ward takes a shot. Save made by Andy Lonergan.35:55
Craig Bryson fouled by Luciano Becchio, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Jason Shackell.35:12
Paul Green takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.33:12
Corner from the right by-line taken by Robert Snodgrass, Luciano Becchio produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.31:53
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robert Snodgrass by Gareth Roberts. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Robert Snodgrass, save by Frank Fielding.29:42
Jamie Ward takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Danny Pugh.29:23
Nathan Tyson takes a shot. Save by Andy Lonergan.29:09
Robert Snodgrass sends in a cross, Gareth Roberts manages to make a clearance.28:32
Inswinging corner taken by Robert Snodgrass from the right by-line, Craig Bryson manages to make a clearance.28:24
A cross is delivered by Danny Pugh, clearance by Gareth Roberts.27:44
Tom Lees crosses the ball, clearance made by Shaun Barker.21:28
Handball decision goes against Gareth Roberts. Centre by Robert Snodgrass, Header from deep inside the area by Patrick Kisnorbo goes over the bar.20:54
Jamie Ward takes a shot from a just insdie the penalty box and hits the post.19:46
Jason Shackell fouled by Darren O'Dea, the ref awards a free kick. Frank Fielding takes the free kick.19:09
Outswinging corner taken by Robert Snodgrass, clearance made by Shaun Barker.18:52
Ross McCormack takes a shot. Save made by Frank Fielding.18:23
Jamie Ward takes a shot. Patrick Kisnorbo gets a block in.14:00
The ball is sent over by Jamie Ward, Nathan Tyson takes a shot. Andy Lonergan makes a save.12:44
Centre by Nathan Tyson, clearance made by Patrick Kisnorbo.11:28
Ross McCormack fouled by Jason Shackell, the ref awards a free kick. Robert Snodgrass delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, save by Frank Fielding.9:56
Foul by Michael Brown on John Brayford, free kick awarded. Paul Green crosses the ball in from the free kick.7:24
Corner taken left-footed by Robert Snodgrass.6:10
John Brayford gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Clayton. Andy Lonergan restarts play with the free kick.5:16
Foul by Robert Snodgrass on Jamie Ward, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Gareth Roberts.3:25
Shot from just outside the box by Michael Brown misses to the left of the goal.2:35
Corner taken by Robert Snodgrass, Tom Lees takes a shot. Clearance by Shaun Barker.2:28
The ball is delivered by Aidan White, Shaun Barker gets a block in.0:00
The match has kicked off.
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