Blackburn Rovers 0 Middlesbrough 1: Britt Assombalonga inspires Boro to three points at Ewood Park

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Britt Assombalonga scored the only goal of the game as Middlesbrough overcame 10-man Blackburn 1-0 at Ewood Park.

The Boro striker received his first league start since Boxing Day and opened the scoring on 19 minutes, heading home Ashley Fletcher's shot across goal.

Rovers rarely threatened in the opening 45 minutes and things went from bad to worse for the hosts when Derrick Williams was sent off on the stroke of half-time.

The Blackburn defender was shown a straight red card for pulling back Fletcher when the Boro striker was through on goal.

Tony Pulis' side struggled to make their advantage count, though, and rarely tested Rovers David Raya after the break.

Blackburn had opportunities to equalise late on as ex-Boro striker Danny Graham scooped an effort over the bar 12 minutes from time, before Darren Randolph denied Bradley Dack from close range.

The result means Boro move up to fifth in the Championship, above Bristol City, having played one game more than the Robins.

Before the game Pulis claimed he'd run out of defenders following Daniel Ayala's red card at Sheffield United and an injury to Aden Flint.

That meant Ryan Shotton was moved into a back three, alongside Dael Fry and George Friend, with Jonny Howson and George Saville operating as wing-backs.

Boro were forced into another defensive reshuffle following an injury to Friend in the second half, as Boro's stand-in skipper was replaced by Paddy McNair.

But he Teessiders held on to claim a precious three points ahead of next week's clash with QPR at the Riverside.