In-form Middlesbrough move into the Championship play-off places thanks to 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest

Middlesbrough moved into the Sky Bet Championship play-off places for only the second time this season as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the Riverside.

Sunday, 26th December 2021, 5:28 pm

Chris Wilder’s in-form side claimed a fourth success from their last five matches as a comical own goal from Ryan Yates and second-half strike from Andraz Sporar secured a deserved win.

Forest were outplayed throughout, with their own good run of form under Steve Cooper coming to a resounding end.

Middlesbrough were on the front foot from the off and came close to opening the scoring in just the fifth minute. Isaiah Jones squared the ball for the recalled Onel Hernandez but the Cuban’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected just wide.

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Ryan Yates of Nottingham Forest battles for possession with Jonathan Howson of Middlesbrough. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Forest went into the game having suffered just one defeat in their previous 16 matches but they were unable to live with the pace and fluidity of Boro’s attacking for much of the game.

That said, they were undoubtedly their own worst enemies as they conceded a farcical opener in the 17th minute.

Yates received the ball from goalkeeper Brice Samba close to the edge of his own area and after turning back towards his own goal did not look over his shoulder as he rolled a back-pass to where he thought Samba was standing. Samba was nowhere near and the pair were left red-faced as the ball rolled into the net.

That was the cue for a sustained spell of Middlesbrough pressure that should really have resulted in a second goal before the break.

A stretching Sporar just failed to reach Jones’ cross before firing in a low shot that Samba saved with his legs, Hernandez saw a shot deflected just over from the edge of the 18-yard box and wing-back Neil Taylor also drilled in a dangerous effort that Samba parried.

Boro’s best first-half chance to add to their lead came towards the end of the opening period but Jones volleyed Taylor’s deep cross against the outside of a post.

Forest’s attacking threat before the break was pretty much non-existent, although Paddy McNair produced an excellent interception just before the break when Philip Zinckernagel wasted a smart through ball from Lewis Grabban with a poor first touch.

Cooper changed things at half-time, bringing on Joao Carvalho and switching to a flat back four, and the visitors were much improved after the break.

Forest went close again four minutes later with Joe Worrall looping a header onto the roof of the net after latching onto Johnson’s cross, and their failure to take either of their second-half chances proved costly as Boro doubled their lead with 21 minutes left.

Matt Crooks crossed from the right after Jones’ pass released him into space, and while Samba clawed the ball away from his goalmouth it dropped invitingly for Sporar, who swept home the rebound.

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