Match ends, Stoke City 2, Middlesbrough 0.
A Marko Arnautovic double helped Stoke City ease to victory as struggling Middlesbrough slipped into the Premier League relegation zone.
Arnautovic opened the scoring with a superb solo goal, plucking the ball out of the air with a neat touch and rounding Victor Valdes to finish.
The Austrian doubled the Potters' lead before the break, lashing in from close range after Peter Crouch's nod down.
Ben Gibson had an effort ruled out for offside, but that was as close as Boro came.
The result means Aitor Karanka's side have not scored in their past four league games.
The Arnautovic show
Potters boss Mark Hughes said Arnautovic "doesn't like scoring as much as he should do" after the win, but if the tricky forward can maintain this sort of form then he may well end up as Stoke's top scorer for a second successive season.
That would be a blessing for Hughes, who this week dismissed on-loan striker Wilfried Bony's claims that it was "crazy" he was not playing. Hughes is also yet to give new signing Saido Berahino a league start.
Former Inter and Werder Bremen man Arnautovic linked well with Crouch, and the touch for his first goal was one of a player brimming with confidence.
The Austrian was a thorn in the Middlesbrough side almost immediately from kick-off, teeing up team-mate Ramadan Sobhi only to see the Egypt winger strike the bar.
Boro fire another blank
Middlesbrough's lack of goals are turning into something of a crisis for boss Karanka, who watched his side drop into the bottom three for the first time this season.
A league-low 19 goals has seen them muster only four wins all campaign and it is perhaps no surprise that Boro have not found the net in four games, plus their shooting accuracy is only better than West Ham's.
Karanka opted to drop top scorer Alvaro Negredo in favour of January signing Rudy Gestede, but the Benin forward was isolated as Boro's midfield failed to support their lone striker.
Fellow new arrival Patrick Bamford did not even make the bench.
Boro's early-season form was built on a solid defence and they have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the bottom half, but after the loss of centre-back Daniel Ayala to injury early on it was easy pickings for Stoke.
Man of the match - Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City)
'We had something to prove' - what they said
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "It was important to bounce back. We didn't do ourselves any favours at Tottenham last week. We had something to prove.
"It was a deserved lead in the first half, two good goals from Marko Arnautovic. We could have won more comprehensively.
"When he times those runs in behind he is very difficult to knock off his stride, he's a big guy with lots of power. He's got that potential."
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka: "In this kind of moment we need to be positive. We have to know we have done good things so far.
"We have to keep believing in this group of players. Until the last day we will keep fighting.
"We are in the bottom three and we need to work harder to leave those positions."
Home comforts for Stoke - key stats
- Stoke have lost only one of their past 12 home Premier League games.
- Marko Arnautovic scored his first home Premier League goal in 308 days.
- Arnautovic has scored 21 Premier League goals, equalling the record scored by an Austrian [Paul Scharner] in the competition.
- Middlesbrough have won one of their past 27 away Premier League matches.
- Boro have now failed to score in a league-high 13 matches this season and have not found the net in six of their past eight Premier League games.
Stoke face Manchester City at the Etihad in the Premier League on Wednesday, kick-off 20:00 GMT, before hosting Chelsea 10 days later.
Middlesbrough host both Manchester clubs in the next two weeks. City visit the Riverside Stadium in the FA Cup quarter-finals next Saturday (12:15), before United make the trip in the Premier League on Sunday, 19 March (12:00).
- 17ShawcrossBooked at 21mins
- 15Martins IndiSubstituted forAfellayat 87'minutes
- 10ArnautovicSubstituted forDioufat 65'minutes
- 25CrouchSubstituted forBerahinoat 79'minutes
- 2da Silva
- 4AyalaSubstituted forBernardoat 8'minutes
- 3FriendBooked at 45mins
- 7LeadbitterSubstituted forGuédiouraat 75'minutes
- 14de RoonBooked at 78mins
- 21RamírezSubstituted forStuaniat 45'minutes
- Craig Pawson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Stoke City 2, Middlesbrough 0.
Erik Pieters (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough).
Attempt saved. Saido Berahino (Stoke City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt saved. Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ramadan Sobhi.
Glen Johnson (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough).
Attempt blocked. Joe Allen (Stoke City) left footed shot from very close range is blocked. Assisted by Ramadan Sobhi.
Foul by Erik Pieters (Stoke City).
Fabio (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Stoke City. Ibrahim Afellay replaces Bruno Martins Indi because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Bruno Martins Indi (Stoke City) because of an injury.
Attempt saved. Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Attempt missed. Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Glenn Whelan with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Víctor Valdés.
Attempt saved. Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Geoff Cameron with a cross.
Attempt missed. Adlène Guédioura (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Rudy Gestede.
Foul by Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City).