Middlesbrough 0 Aston Villa 1
Sat 30th Dec 3.00pm
New manager Tony Pulis didn't get the start he wanted following a 1-0 defeat to promotion rivals Aston Villa at the Riverside.
Robert Snodgrass headed the only goal of the contest from a 75th minute cross delivered by one-time Boro winger Albert Adomah.
Former West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City boss Pulis had earlier made three changes, with Ryan Shotton starting at right-back and recalls for both George Friend and Rudy Gestede.
There were few opportunities during the opening half in particular, with home midfielder Jonny Howson volleying directly at Sam Johnstone.
Snodgrass' free-kick was also comfortable for opposite number Darren Randolph, with Britt Assombalonga heading wide at a corner.
Meanwhile, Ben Gibson's rare slip suddenly witnessed Adomah only finding the Boro keeper, while James Chester then headed over from an early second-half free-kick.
Goalkeeper Randolph also turned aside from Villa substitute Jack Grealish after Assombalonga had already struck wide at the other end.
And it was the visitors moving above their opponents in the table when Snodgrass headed in Adomah's cross at the far post with fifteen minutes remaining.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Downing, Howson, Leadbitter, Braithwaite (Traore 57), Assombalonga (Fletcher 79), Gestede (Bamford 69)
subs (unused): Konstantopoulos, Guedioura, Christie, Baker
Aston Villa: Johnstone, El Mohamady Abdel Fattah, Elphick, Chester, Hutton, Snodgrass, Jedinak, Hourihane, Adomah (Bjarnason 90), Onomah (Grealish 37), Hogan (Hepburn-Murphy 75)
subs (unused): Steer, Bree, Doyle-Hayes, O'Hare
Goals: Snodgrass (75)
Ref: A. Madley