Middlesbrough returned to within two points of the play-off places as they plunged Hull deeper into the relegation mire with a 3-1 win at the Riverside.
The hosts almost claimed the lead after just eight minutes, with Rudy Gestede heading against the outside of the post after winger Adama Traore’s trickery teased out a crossing position.
Gestede did not have to wait long for his first Championship goal since August. Eight minutes later, Traore sent Ryan Shotton scampering away on the overlap and after Patrick Bamford flicked on the full-back’s cross from the corner of the six-yard box, an unmarked Gestede had the simple task of nodding past Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
Hull gradually hauled themselves back into the game and levelled in fine fashion four minutes before the break.
Boro’s defenders had switched off when attempting to defend a couple of corners, and were dozing again as Jon Toral pulled the ball back to the corner of the area and Evandro swept home an excellent first-time finish.
Nigel Adkins’ side were only on level terms for four minutes. On the stroke of half-time, Ola Aina’s slack square ball to Michael Hector was intercepted by Bamford and the Boro striker sprinted clear to lift a deft finish over the onrushing McGregor.
Boro almost conceded at the start of the second half but after Darren Randolph saved from Fraizer Campbell, Will Keane dragged a second effort wide.
That was a let-off for the hosts, and they took advantage by claiming a third goal before the hour mark.
Traore’s searing pace once again pierced the Hull defence and after the winger cut the ball back from the byline, Gestede claimed his second goal of the night via a slick back-heel.
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton, Ayala, Fry, Friend, Besic (Clayton 66), Leadbitter, Downing (Cranie 84), Traore, Gestede, Bamford (Howson 71). Subs Not Used: Konstantopoulos, Assombalonga, Harrison, Baker. Booked: Gestede. Goals: Gestede 16, Bamford 45, Gestede 58.
Hull: McGregor, Hector, Dawson, MacDonald, Tomori (Diomande 76), Evandro, Toral (Grosicki 66), Irvine, Aina, Campbell, Keane. Subs Not Used: Meyler, Dicko, Marshall, Clark, Stewart. Booked: Dawson. Goals: Evandro 41.
Att: 23,111 Ref: Andrew Madley