Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka slammed his players’ attitude after their 2-0 defeat at fellow promotion contenders Ipswich.
The Suffolk side moved back to second in the Championship after first half goals from top scorer Daryl Murphy and Jay Tabb on the cusp of half-time.
Boro had gone into the match on the back of a fantastic run of just one defeat in 17 matches, but they looked anything but a form team after offering little in the way of a response.
Karanka said: “This is the first time I have been angry with my players’ attitude. After last week’s win against Derby County, we thought we were a Champions League team.
“But today it is impossible to take anything from the game.
“Ipswich wanted it more than us. Murphy was first to the rebound for their first goal, Teddy Bishop at 18 years old was the best player on the pitch and Jay Tabb, at 5ft 5ins, scored with his head.
“It was our worst performance of the season – it is difficult to understand.”
Less than a minute after kick-off, Ipswich carved out the first chance when Tommy Smith rose highest to meet Paul Anderson’s free kick but his header went wide.
And they went even closer with 11 on the clock after Christophe Berra’s diagonal ball was nodded on by Murphy and Anderson fired just over with a left-footed volley after neat skill with his right foot.
A cagey opening 25 minutes finally came to life thanks to Murphy’s 14th of the season.
Tabb did well down the left, cutting the ball back for McGoldrick who looked certain to score, only to be denied by the legs of Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
But there was Murphy to fire home the rebound and break the deadlock.
Ipswich fans thought their team had won a penalty six minutes before the interval when the ever-dangerous McGoldrick tricked his way past Kenneth Omeruo in the area and went down under apparent contact, but referee James Linington booked the Town striker for simulation.
Middlesbrough finally fashioned a decent chance in the 41st minute when Adam Reach gained a yard out wide and his cross was headed just wide by Albert Adomah.
The crucial second goal came the way of the hosts with virtually the last kicks of an intriguing first half.
A fine confident period of passing involving McGoldrick, Luke Chambers and Teddy Bishop ended with a teasing cross from the latter, met by 5ft 5ins Tabb to head home into the corner.
A buoyant Ipswich predictably started the second half on top and Chambers headed straight at Konstantopoulos from Anderson’s dangerous free kick.
At the other end, George Friend was unable to get any power behind his shot after a neat exchange with Jelle Vossen as Boro showed a bit more intent.
Town centre back Christophe Berra had to be alert to clear off the line after Adam Reach’s attempted lob.
Ipswich went tantalisingly close to a decisive third when Murphy’s header was cleared off the line by Boro skipper Grant Leadbitter and Tommy Smith hit the rebound against the foot of the post.
The visitors were offering less and less, the best half-chance falling to Daniel Ayala who fired over from 15 yards, while at the other end the impressive Anderson drilled a long-range shot just wide before substitute Darren Ambrose did likewise minutes later.