Robbie Brady's second-half strike gave Hull City's hopes of automatic promotion a boost as the Tigers earned a narrow win over Middlesbrough.
The Republic of Ireland international saw his second-half free-kick pushed into the roof of the net by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele.
Scott McDonald forced Hull goalkeeper David Stockdale into a good low save after a clever flick.
The visitors went close again when Ishmael Miller headed wide late on.
Boro's fall from grace
- At the start of 2013, Middlesbrough were third, one point off automatic promotion
- Since then, they have won only two of 16 league games, taken one point from a possible 18 in their last six games, and slipped to ninth place, seven points below the play-offs
The win for Steve Bruce's side means they are three points clear of third-placed Watford after leaders Cardiff held Gianfranco Zola's team to a 0-0 draw later on Saturday.
After losing to promotion rivals Watford in midweek, the visit of Tony Mowbray's Middlesbrough, who are now without a win in 10 games on the road, may have seemed the ideal fixture to get back on track.
But it was the visitors who had the better start at the KC Stadium, with on-loan Newcastle forward Sammy Ameobi easing past defender Corry Evans, but his tame effort was easily saved by Stockdale.
Mustapha Carayol's deflected cross tested Stockdale at his near post before Robert Koren hit a powerful effort for Hull that Steele saved.
Ameobi then saw a deflected effort go narrowly over the bar before Carayol forced Stockdale into another save after the break.
Hull, who had alternated between winning and losing in their previous eight Championship outings, then went ahead through Brady's free-kick which curled around the wall before Steele pushed it into his own net after the ball bounced in front of him.
Middlesbrough tried to respond but McDonald and Miller could not manufacture an equaliser and Mowbray's side are now seven points off the play-offs.
Hull manager Steve Bruce:
"It really took us to half-time to get going again, but we showed something, a bit of resilience and that determination to get a result. We don't want to be sitting through too many of them.
"I've heard some nonsense that he [Brady] watched somebody do it, whether it was [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Gareth] Bale, and bounced it in front of the keeper. It looks to me like it hit a divot and the goalkeeper made a mess of it.
"But we needed a break and thankfully we've got it. It's put us in a really, really strong position."
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray:
"I don't think there was much in the game. I thought we were probably the better team, we probably created more chances. I thought it was a tight game, not much in it.
"The statistics are quite damning of how many games we've won in the last 16 and yet we can look back at a lot of those games, like this one, and think we didn't get what we deserved.
"But you've got to put the ball in the net when you have opportunities and we haven't done that consistently enough."
- 34 Stockdale Booked
- 05 Chester
- 28 Bruce (Rosenior - 45' Booked )
- 08 Evans Booked
- 10 Koren
- 23 Faye Booked
- 27 Elmohamady
- 29 Quinn
- 22 Gedo (Simpson - 53' )
- 30 Brady
- 37 Boyd (Fathi - 80' )
- 01 Jakupovic
- 02 Rosenior
- 03 Dawson
- 17 Fathi
- 14 Cairney
- 11 Simpson
- 33 Proschwitz
- 01 Steele
- 02 Hoyte
- 14 Williams
- 39 Woodgate (Bikey - 46' )
- 07 Leadbitter
- 16 McEachran
- 18 Halliday
- 38 Haroun
- 08 Sa Ameobi (McDonald - 67' )
- 19 Carayol (Zemmama - 67' )
- 30 Miller
- 32 Leutwiler
- 03 Bikey
- 05 Zemmama
- 10 Bailey
- 17 Jutkiewicz
- 23 Main
- 27 McDonald
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +4:03 Booking
Booking David Stockdale is cautioned by the ref for time wasting.90:00 +3:41
Faris Haroun has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide right of the target.90:00 +2:34
Shot by Grant Leadbitter.90:00 +0:49
Foul by Robert Koren on Grant Leadbitter, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.88:53
Andre Bikey fouled by Jay Simpson, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Andre Bikey.88:30
Centre by Josh McEachran, clearance by Robbie Brady.88:05
Jay Simpson sends in a cross, Jason Steele makes a save.87:23
Centre by Justin Hoyte, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Ishmael Miller misses to the left of the goal.86:10
Andrew Halliday gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ahmed Elmohamady. Free kick taken by Robert Koren.82:19
Robbie Brady takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Rhys Williams.80:51
Andrew Halliday has an effort at goal from outside the area which misses left.80:30
Justin Hoyte sends in a cross, Ahmed Elmohamady makes a clearance.79:15 Substitution
Substitution Ahmed Fathi replaces George Boyd.78:55 Booking
Booking Liam Rosenior goes into the book.77:55
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Grant Leadbitter, Rhys Williams takes a shot. Liam Rosenior makes a clearance.77:25
A cross is delivered by Justin Hoyte, Scott McDonald takes a shot. Save made by David Stockdale.76:11
Unfair challenge on Scott McDonald by Abdoulaye Faye results in a free kick. Jason Steele takes the free kick.76:11 Booking
Booking Abdoulaye Faye booked for unsporting behaviour.74:46
Josh McEachran fouled by George Boyd, the ref awards a free kick. Jason Steele takes the indirect free kick.
The ball is sent over by Ahmed Elmohamady, Rhys Williams manages to make a clearance.73:53
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Grant Leadbitter, Ahmed Elmohamady makes a clearance.73:43
Justin Hoyte crosses the ball, James Chester makes a clearance.73:14
Andrew Halliday crosses the ball, clearance made by Corry Evans.70:46
Robbie Brady produces a drilled left-footed shot from 20 yards. Save made by Jason Steele.69:37
Stephen Quinn sends in a cross, Shot from 12 yards from Jay Simpson. Save by Jason Steele.68:06
Justin Hoyte takes a shot. David Stockdale makes a save.66:52 Substitution
Substitution Scott McDonald replaces Sammy Ameobi.66:52 Substitution
Substitution Merouane Zemmama replaces Mustapha Carayol.66:39
Jay Simpson produces a drilled right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the left-hand post.65:01
Ahmed Elmohamady fouled by Sammy Ameobi, the ref awards a free kick. A cross is delivered by Robbie Brady, Ahmed Elmohamady produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.64:53
The ball is sent over by Robbie Brady, Rhys Williams makes a clearance.64:35
Drilled shot by Robert Koren.63:46
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Robbie Brady, James Chester produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.61:54 Goal scored
Goal! - Robbie Brady - Hull City 1 - 0 Middlesbro Robbie Brady finds the net with a brilliant goal direct from the free kick from long range to the top right corner of the goal. Hull 1-0 Middlesbrough.61:00
Foul by Josh McEachran on Stephen Quinn, free kick awarded.58:06 Booking
Booking Corry Evans goes into the book.57:45
Foul by Corry Evans on Mustapha Carayol, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Rhys Williams.57:25
The ball is crossed by Robbie Brady, clearance made by Rhys Williams.56:03
Abdoulaye Faye fouled by Ishmael Miller, the ref awards a free kick. David Stockdale takes the free kick.54:36
Sammy Ameobi takes a shot from 25 yards. Save by David Stockdale.54:19
Justin Hoyte delivers the ball, Abdoulaye Faye manages to make a clearance.53:29
The offside flag is raised against George Boyd. Indirect free kick taken by Jason Steele.52:46 Substitution
Substitution Jay Simpson comes on in place of Mohamed Gedo.48:54
Ahmed Elmohamady concedes a free kick for a foul on Mustapha Carayol. Free kick taken by Jason Steele.47:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Andrew Halliday by Mohamed Gedo. Rhys Williams takes the free kick.47:12
George Boyd produces a drilled left-footed shot from 30 yards. Save by Jason Steele.46:06
Shot by Robbie Brady from just outside the area goes over the net.45:19
A cross is delivered by Robbie Brady, clearance made by Grant Leadbitter.45:01
The second half has started.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Jonathan Woodgate goes off and Andre Bikey comes on.45:00 +4:42 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +4:11
A cross is delivered by Andrew Halliday, James Chester manages to make a clearance.45:00 +1:39
A cross is delivered by Ahmed Elmohamady, clearance by Justin Hoyte.45:00 +1:17
Shot by George Boyd. Blocked by Rhys Williams.44:18
Inswinging corner taken by Grant Leadbitter from the left by-line played to the near post.44:18 Substitution
Substitution Liam Rosenior joins the action as a substitute, replacing Alex Bruce.43:32
Shot from outside the penalty box by Justin Hoyte goes wide right of the goal.42:52
Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, clearance by James Chester.41:07
Robert Koren takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Shot from deep inside the area by Abdoulaye Faye clears the bar.38:48
Sammy Ameobi fouled by Ahmed Elmohamady, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Grant Leadbitter from left wing, clearance made by Ahmed Elmohamady.35:39
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Robert Koren from the left by-line, James Chester produces a header from inside the area that goes over the crossbar.35:24
James Chester takes a shot. Jason Steele makes a save.34:30
Rhys Williams concedes a free kick for a foul on George Boyd. Robbie Brady crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Sammy Ameobi makes a clearance.33:27
The ball is crossed by Sammy Ameobi, Shot from deep inside the area by Josh McEachran goes over the bar.33:18
The ball is swung over by Sammy Ameobi, blocked by James Chester.32:39
Corner from the left by-line taken by Grant Leadbitter, save made by David Stockdale.32:25
Shot by Sammy Ameobi from 20 yards. Blocked by James Chester.31:53
Effort on goal by George Boyd from inside the box misses to the right of the target.31:37
Grant Leadbitter gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Quinn. Free kick taken by Stephen Quinn.30:01
Robbie Brady delivers the ball, save made by Jason Steele.29:21
Grant Leadbitter produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the goal.28:41
Corner from the left by-line taken by Grant Leadbitter, Abdoulaye Faye manages to make a clearance.28:25
Josh McEachran fouled by Robbie Brady, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Josh McEachran.26:42
Centre by Mustapha Carayol, Corner taken by Grant Leadbitter, David Stockdale makes a save. Ahmed Elmohamady manages to make a clearance.26:02
Robert Koren has an effort at goal from 25 yards. Rhys Williams gets a block in.25:56
Robbie Brady produces a cross.25:06
Mohamed Gedo gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Woodgate. Jason Steele takes the free kick.24:49
Robert Koren has an effort at goal from 30 yards. Save by Jason Steele.22:08
Ahmed Elmohamady crosses the ball, Header from deep inside the area by Mohamed Gedo goes harmlessly over the crossbar.21:27
Corner taken right-footed by Robert Koren, Jonathan Woodgate manages to make a clearance.16:41
Andrew Halliday challenges Stephen Quinn unfairly and gives away a free kick. Strike comes in from Robbie Brady from the free kick.15:28
Ahmed Elmohamady sends in a cross, clearance made by Justin Hoyte.15:15
Robbie Brady crosses the ball.14:48
Stephen Quinn sends in a cross.13:56
Ishmael Miller is ruled offside. Abdoulaye Faye restarts play with the free kick.13:17
Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Grant Leadbitter, save made by David Stockdale.12:59
Centre by Andrew Halliday, James Chester manages to make a clearance.12:34
Corry Evans concedes a free kick for a foul on Ishmael Miller. Grant Leadbitter takes the free kick.11:41
Corner taken right-footed by Grant Leadbitter to the near post, clearance made by Ahmed Elmohamady.11:23
The ball is sent over by Mustapha Carayol, save made by David Stockdale.10:29
Effort from 20 yards by Sammy Ameobi. David Stockdale makes a save.4:59
Mohamed Gedo is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jason Steele takes the free kick.2:35
The official flags Mohamed Gedo offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jonathan Woodgate.0:49
The ball is delivered by Mustapha Carayol, clearance by Abdoulaye Faye.0:00
The referee starts the match.
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