Single goal enough for Boro
Wed 26th Dec 3pm
Middlesbrough moved back into third place in the table after striker Lukas Jutkiewicz grabbed the only goal of the game against Blackburn Rovers at the Riverside.
Match-winner Jutkiewicz struck with a firm, low finish when being set-up by forward partner Scott McDonald midway through the second-half.
But the hosts had earlier almost conceded inside the first-minute of the contest as Colin Kazim-Richards helped a cross from the right against an upright. Martin Olsson also drilled wide for the visitors, with Emmanuel Ledesma despatching a free-kick straight at goalkeeper Jake Kean in reply and then hoisting from the edge of the area.
Attacking full-back George Friend was next off-target on the end of a fine individual break and Scott McDonald similarly missed from the outside the box, while Jonathan Woodgate charged down from Kazim-Richards and home keeper Jason Steele denied Grant Hanley.
His opposite number Kean then collected a 20-yard drive from Ledesma before the hosts had another escape when a cross struck defender Andre Bikey and rebounded onto a post before dropping into the arms of Steele. Jutkiewicz also failed to find the finish from Ledesma's delivery as Kean saved again just before the interval.
There was a significant substitution from the home side at the start of the second-half with skipper Rhys Williams replacing Bikey.
However, he witnessed Kazim-Richards again the danger when calling Steele into further action until Jutkiewicz exchanged passes with McDonald and drilled home from around fifteen-yards.
Goal-provider McDonald then twice went close to adding to it, while Steele kept out substitute Ruben Rochina after his initial free-kick from the edge of the area struck the defensive wall.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Bikey (R. Williams 46), Woodgate, Friend, Leadbitter, McEachran (Smallwood 56), Ledesma, Emnes (Bailey 72), Jutkiewicz, McDonald
subs (unused): Leutwiler, Thomson, Halliday, Miller
Goals: Jutkiewicz (67)
Blackburn Rovers: Kean, Mn Olsson, Dann, Henley, G. Hanley, Lowe, Murphy, Rosado (Dunn 79), Rhodes, King, Kazim-Richards (Rochina 83)
subs (unused): Usai, Givet, Pedersen, Etuhu, Vukcevic