Middlesbrough climbed into the play-off places with a comfortable victory over financially stricken Portsmouth.

Barry Robson set the visitors on their way with a penalty, and Matthew Bates doubled the lead with a scrappy strike.

Greg Halford pulled a goal back for the home side with a spot-kick after Lukas Jutkiewicz handled in the box.

Marvin Emnes sealed the win with a late goal, but there was still time for Boro's Rhys Williams to be sent off for a second bookable offence.

It caps a miserable week for Pompey who had to loan captain Liam Lawrence to Cardiff in order to reduce the wage bill.

Portsmouth came close to opening the scoring in the first half, but Scott Allen's low drive went inches wide of Jason Steele's post.

At the other end, Stephen Henderson was doing his best to keep Middlesbrough at bay, tipping wide Neil Bailey's volley.

But the deadlock was broken in the second half when Ricardo Rocha was penalised for an infringement in the box and Robson scored the penalty.

Bates scored a second for Tony Mowbray's men, bundling home the influential Robson's free-kick, before Portsmouth won a penalty of their own when Jutkiewicz handled and Halford stepped up confidently to score.

Emnes came off the bench to fire in Boro's third after debutant Adam Hammill's shot was parried by the goalkeeper, and defender Williams was dismissed late on for a second yellow card.

Middlesbrough move up to fifth, with Portsmouth deep in relegation trouble, five points off safety in 23rd place.

Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton said:

"From our point of view, you have to keep the belief, no matter how hard you get knocked. If you get knocked down you've just got to keep picking yourself up again.

"Today there were a few contentious decisions out there which cost us. That's going to happen in the next 13 games though, there are going to be decisions that go for us and against us.

"I'm convinced that at some point that it will turn. I can go into the next seven games in March thinking that there is enough belief and enough ability to pick up some points."

Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray said:

"I think any win is a pleasing win in this league. Every game is tough and in the end it was more of an attritional game. There wasn't much football played for an hour or so.

"The intensity of the day was always going to make it difficult for us, they have an amazing set of supporters and the atmosphere they generate is first class.

"On the pitch you look at the quality they possess also, a lot of Premier League experience, and I'm delighted with taking three points.

"I think for the bigger picture you have to hope they can fulfil their fixtures. I managed West Brom against Portsmouth four years ago in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

"It seems incredible in such a short period of time they can find themselves in the plight that they are in - we wish them well."

Lineup, Bookings (11) & Substitutions (5)

Portsmouth

  • 13 Henderson
  • 02 Ward Booked
  • 03 Rocha Booked
  • 05 Pearce
  • 15 Halford Booked
  • 26 Ben-Haim Booked
  • 08 Mullins
  • 16 Allan
  • 19 Norris Booked
  • 20 Thorne (Varney - 65' )
  • 09 Futacs (Kitson - 65' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Ashdown
  • 31 Webster
  • 04 Mokoena
  • 11 Varney
  • 18 Kitson

Middlesbrough

  • 01 Steele
  • 02 Hoyte
  • 03 Bennett
  • 04 Bates Booked
  • 14 Williams Dismissed after an earlier booking
  • 15 Hines
  • 10 Bailey
  • 11 Hammill (Arca - 88' )
  • 17 Robson Booked
  • 38 Haroun Booked (Emnes - 59' )
  • 30 Jutkiew'z (Main - 72' Booked )

Substitutes

  • 29 McMahon
  • 18 Arca
  • 09 Emnes
  • 16 Ogbeche
  • 25 Main
Ref: Kettle
Att: 16,770

Match Stats

Shots

9 11

On target

3 9

Corners

6 7

Fouls

21 14

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +6:10 Full time

Full Time The match has reached full-time.

90:00 +5:00

Greg Halford challenges Jason Steele unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.

90:00 +4:20

Inswinging corner taken by Scott Allan from the left by-line, clearance by Nicky Bailey.

90:00 +3:14

Stephen Henderson restarts play with the free kick.

90:00 +3:14 Dismissal

Dismissal Rhys Williams shown a red card for second bookable offence.

90:00 +2:57

Free kick awarded for a foul by Rhys Williams on Jason Pearce.

90:00 +2:13

Ricardo Rocha challenges Marvin Emnes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Julio Arca.

90:00 +0:58

David Norris takes a shot. Jason Steele makes a save.

90:00 +0:40

Marvin Emnes is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.

87:14 Substitution

Substitution Julio Arca joins the action as a substitute, replacing Adam Hammill.

85:29

Free kick awarded for a foul by Hayden Mullins on Barry Robson. Adam Hammill shoots direct from the free kick, save made by Stephen Henderson. Adam Hammill takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Luke Varney manages to make a clearance.

84:52

Dave Kitson challenges Seb Hines unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.

84:23

Dave Kitson has a volleyed shot. Save by Jason Steele.

82:11

Curtis Main provided the assist for the goal.

82:11 Goal scored

Goal! - Marvin Emnes - Portsmouth 1 - 3 Middlesbro A goal is scored by Marvin Emnes from just inside the area high into the middle of the goal. Portsmouth 1-3 Middlesbrough.

82:06

Adam Hammill takes a shot. Save by Stephen Henderson.

81:40

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ricardo Rocha by Curtis Main. Free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.

81:17

Luke Varney is ruled offside. Jason Steele takes the free kick.

80:41

Curtis Main has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the target.

79:24

Hayden Mullins takes a long range shot clearing the bar.

79:02

Inswinging corner taken by Scott Allan, Jason Steele makes a save.

78:20

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Scott Allan by Barry Robson. Scott Allan crosses the ball in from the free kick, Joe Bennett manages to make a clearance.

76:21

Marvin Emnes takes a shot. Save by Stephen Henderson.

75:02

Stephen Henderson takes the indirect free kick.

75:02 Booking

Booking Curtis Main is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

74:51

Foul by Curtis Main on Jason Pearce, free kick awarded.

72:48

Seb Hines gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Luke Varney. Greg Halford has an effort direct from the free kick. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Scott Allan played to the near post, Joe Bennett makes a clearance.

70:42 Substitution

Substitution Lukas Jutkiewicz leaves the field to be replaced by Curtis Main.

70:42

Dave Kitson has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.

68:17 Booking

Booking Caution for David Norris.

68:07

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Robson by Luke Varney. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.

67:04

Corner from left by-line taken by Adam Hammill.

66:14

Unfair challenge on Barry Robson by David Norris results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Barry Robson, clearance by Hayden Mullins.

65:43 Booking

Booking Caution for Barry Robson.

65:23 Goal scored

Goal! - Greg Halford - Portsmouth 1 - 2 Middlesbro Greg Halford scores a placed penalty. Portsmouth 1-2 Middlesbrough.

65:01

Handball by Lukas Jutkiewicz.

64:42 Substitution

Substitution Dave Kitson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Marko Futacs.

64:28 Substitution

Substitution Luke Varney replaces George Thorne.

64:01

Scott Allan takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Joe Bennett.

62:04

Assist by Lukas Jutkiewicz.

62:04 Goal scored

Goal! - Matthew Bates - Portsmouth 0 - 2 Middlesbro Goal scored by Matthew Bates from close in to the top right corner of the goal. Portsmouth 0-2 Middlesbrough.

61:19

Free kick awarded for a foul by David Norris on Nicky Bailey. Barry Robson takes the indirect free kick. Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Stephen Henderson makes a save.

60:04

Jason Steele restarts play with the free kick.

60:04 Booking

Booking Joel Ward is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

59:49

Foul by Joel Ward on Matthew Bates, free kick awarded.

58:38

Jason Steele restarts play with the free kick.

58:38 Substitution

Substitution Marvin Emnes on for Faris Haroun.

58:38

Unfair challenge on Jason Steele by Jason Pearce results in a free kick.

57:53

Foul by Faris Haroun on Greg Halford, free kick awarded. Scott Allan restarts play with the free kick.

57:04

Indirect free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.

57:04 Booking

Booking Faris Haroun booked.

57:01

Free kick awarded for a foul by Faris Haroun on Greg Halford.

56:44

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Hammill by Hayden Mullins. Indirect free kick taken by Nicky Bailey.

56:13

Scott Allan takes the inswinging corner, Nicky Bailey makes a clearance.

55:34 Goal scored

Goal! - Barry Robson - Portsmouth 0 - 1 Middlesbro Penalty taken left-footed by Barry Robson and scored. Portsmouth 0-1 Middlesbrough.

54:40 Booking

Booking Greg Halford receives a caution.

54:17 Booking

Booking The referee books Ricardo Rocha for unsporting behaviour.

53:06

Corner taken by Barry Robson, save made by Stephen Henderson. Corner taken by Adam Hammill, Ricardo Rocha gives away a Penalty for an unfair challenge on Seb Hines.

52:20

Joe Bennett fouled by Marko Futacs, the ref awards a free kick. Matthew Bates takes the indirect free kick.

45:47

Shot by Scott Allan from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +6:00 Half time

Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.

45:00 +5:48

Joe Bennett delivers the ball, Jason Pearce makes a clearance.

45:00 +4:22

The free kick is swung in right-footed by Greg Halford, save by Jason Steele.

45:00 +4:22 Booking

Booking Rhys Williams shown a yellow card.

45:00 +4:07

Joel Ward fouled by Rhys Williams, the ref awards a free kick.

45:00 +2:43

Foul by Rhys Williams on Scott Allan, free kick awarded. Tal Ben-Haim restarts play with the free kick.

44:46

Free kick crossed right-footed by Adam Hammill, Stephen Henderson makes a save.

44:46 Booking

Booking Tal Ben-Haim goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.

44:34

Tal Ben-Haim concedes a free kick for a foul on Lukas Jutkiewicz.

41:45

Corner taken by Barry Robson from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Tal Ben-Haim.

40:52

Nicky Bailey takes a shot. Save made by Stephen Henderson. Corner taken by Adam Hammill from the left by-line, free kick awarded for a foul by Barry Robson on Stephen Henderson. Stephen Henderson takes the indirect free kick.

32:45

Lukas Jutkiewicz takes a shot. Save made by Stephen Henderson.

32:22

Joe Bennett fouled by Marko Futacs, the ref awards a free kick. Jason Steele takes the free kick.

30:36

Strike on goal comes in from Scott Allan from the free kick.

30:36 Booking

Booking Matthew Bates receives a yellow card.

30:24

Matthew Bates challenges George Thorne unfairly and gives away a free kick.

29:57

Free kick awarded for a foul by Tal Ben-Haim on Adam Hammill. Nicky Bailey restarts play with the free kick.

26:37

Barry Robson crosses the ball.

24:51

Foul by Jason Pearce on Lukas Jutkiewicz, free kick awarded. Barry Robson produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, Stephen Henderson makes a save. Effort by Adam Hammill from a long way out goes over the target.

24:00

Lukas Jutkiewicz challenges Ricardo Rocha unfairly and gives away a free kick. Stephen Henderson takes the free kick.

20:16

David Norris challenges Nicky Bailey unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jason Steele takes the free kick.

18:48

Barry Robson is adjudged to have handled the ball. Indirect free kick taken by Stephen Henderson.

17:26

Adam Hammill crosses the ball, Ricardo Rocha makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Adam Hammill, save by Stephen Henderson.

17:03

Tal Ben-Haim concedes a free kick for a foul on Rhys Williams. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.

13:23

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Norris by Seb Hines. Greg Halford restarts play with the free kick. Marko Futacs takes a shot. Corner taken right-footed by Scott Allan from the left by-line, save by Jason Steele.

12:28

Shot from outside the penalty box by George Thorne goes wide right of the goal.

9:57

Centre by Tal Ben-Haim, Justin Hoyte makes a clearance.

8:15

Free kick awarded for a foul by Ricardo Rocha on Lukas Jutkiewicz. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Hammill.

7:47

David Norris is caught offside. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.

6:31

Lukas Jutkiewicz is caught offside. Stephen Henderson takes the indirect free kick.

6:03

Rhys Williams fouled by Scott Allan, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Matthew Bates.

3:23

Lukas Jutkiewicz gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Henderson. Stephen Henderson takes the indirect free kick.

2:01

The ball is delivered by Barry Robson, save made by Stephen Henderson.

0:29

Unfair challenge on Nicky Bailey by Scott Allan results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Nicky Bailey.

0:00

The referee gets the match started.

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