Doncaster striker Billy Sharp opened the scoring on an emotional night at the Keepmoat Stadium, but Middlesbrough came from behind to win.
Before kick-off Rovers announced that captain Sharp's two-day-old son had died on Saturday. The striker's response was to dedicate a stunning early volley to his memory.
Barry Robson's drive restored parity, and a mistake by Neil Sullivan allowed Marvin Emnes to grab a second.
Robson sealed the win with a penalty.
A minute's applause marked the tragically short life of Sharp's little boy Luey before kick-off and the forward sent fans at the Keepmoat Stadium into raptures when he netted a stunning dipping volley inside the first 15 minutes.
Sharp, who was named captain for the night, revealed a message to his son on a T-shirt underneath his Doncaster strip as he ran towards the home fans in celebration and referee Darren Deadman did not issue a yellow card.
Boro pulled level after 30 minutes when Robson was allowed a free run towards the Doncaster goal and he drove a 20-yard effort into the bottom corner.
New signing El-Hadji Diouf impressed in the opening exchanges, but an early strike was dealt with comfortably by Steele.
Tony Mowbray's side upped the tempo and were ahead in first-half stoppage time when Scott McDonald released Faris Haroun down the right. The Belgian's low cross was met by Emnes, whose close-range effort was weak but Sullivan fumbled and the ball trickled into his empty net.
Boro's third came with 66 minutes gone when former Scotland international Sullivan failed to hold a drive from Emnes, and although he managed to thwart Robson's follow-up, in the ensuing melee Pascal Chimbonda bundled Tony McMahon to the floor and referee Deadman pointed to the spot.
Sullivan guessed correctly, but Robson's well-struck penalty to the goalkeeper's left comfortably found the net.
Doncaster looked to respond late on through George Friend, who saw two long-range efforts well saved.
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