Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Bristol City 3.
Middlesbrough 1-3 Bristol City: Boro face relegation struggle after home loss
Tributes were paid to Jack Charlton on a sombre day at the Riverside as his former club Middlesbrough were beaten by Bristol City to leave them fighting for their Championship status.
Hours after it was announced that the World Cup-winning England defender had died aged 85, the club that Charlton led to top-flight promotion in his first managerial job 46 years ago resumed their quest to avoid the drop.
Boro's prospects took a heavy early blow as Nahki Wells put the managerless Robins ahead with a looping shot off the post.
Dael Fry wastefully blasted over and George Saville saw a header tipped on to the bar for the hosts, before Jamie Paterson doubled City's advantage from an acute angle just before the break.
Wells poked home a third for the visitors with 11 minutes remaining, and while Britt Assombalonga pulled a goal back soon after, it was little more than a consolation effort.
Both sides wore black armbands in memory of Charlton, with a picture tribute of the 1966 World Cup winner also shown on the big screen inside the empty Riverside Stadium before kick-off.
While the pandemic meant fans could not be present to pay their respects, the players came together for a minute's applause to remember a hugely popular character in the English game.
Charlton, a Leeds United great, moved into management with Boro after retiring as as a player in 1973, and the charismatic former defender guided Boro to promotion as Second Division champions the following year.
His influence on Teesside is not limited to just four largely successful seasons - and a second stint as caretaker boss - almost half a century ago, as he also introduced the white band in Boro's red shirt that the club continues to wear to this day.
Warnock worries continue
After the moments of reflection before kick-off, Neil Warnock's Boro turned their attention to trying to move away from the bottom three.
But they started and ended the day in 18th spot, just two points above the relegation places, as interim Robins boss Dean Holden oversaw his second win in four days.
A fine finish from Wells from the edge of the area, after being found by Andreas Weimann, gave the visitors the early lead.
Fry's failure to hit the mark from eight yards and Daniel Bentley's intervention from Saville's header kept the visitors in front.
Boro keeper Dejan Stojanovic did well to foil Jack Hunt when the defender was afforded plenty of time and space to shoot, but was well beaten by Paterson for the Robins' second.
The attacker received a pass from Weimann wide on the left before dribbling into the box and hammering his shot into the roof of the net.
And it was Weimann who helped put the game beyond the home side with a hat-trick of assists, as he slipped Wells through for his second goal.
Assombalonga's low finish failed to spark an improbable late rally as Middlesbrough, who have failed to win at the Riverside in 2020, slumped to a third straight home defeat.
Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock told BBC Radio Tees:
"They haven't had chances as good as ours today, and they beat us 3-1.
"They got a freak opening goal where he is crossing the ball really, and it knocks you back a bit. The lads are thinking 'here we go again'. You could see the fear in one of two of them.
"I though we did well to come back into the game. We had a great chance with Dael to equalise - he doesn't know how he missed that. That goal would have lifted everybody and I thought we would have gone on then.
"Every time they needed a lift, they got a lift. Every time we needed a lift, we got kicked in the teeth. That is tough to take, but we need to move on.
Bristol City interim boss Dean Holden told BBC Radio Bristol:
"I enjoyed the performance, the boys have gone out in the last couple of games and the pressure has been lifted really.
"We scored three fantastic goals. All in all, I don't know how many chances we created, but we created enough to warrant the victory.
"The pressure was lifted after last Saturday's game against Cardiff (a defeat which prompted manager Lee Johnson's sacking) and naturally the players are going to go out and play a little bit freely.
"They got a bit more confidence after the game on Wednesday night (a 2-1 win against Hull City) and they took that into today."
- 5ShottonSubstituted forRobertsat 66'minutes
- 21JohnsonBooked at 54mins
- 17McNairSubstituted forCoulsonat 77'minutes
- 16HowsonSubstituted forClaytonat 83'minutes
- 22SavilleSubstituted forWingat 45'minutes
- 11FletcherSubstituted forTavernierat 66'minutes
- 2HuntSubstituted forVynerat 87'minutes
- 20PatersonSubstituted forNagyat 87'minutes
- 9DiédhiouSubstituted forWatkinsat 82'minutes
- 21WellsSubstituted forO'Dowdaat 83'minutes
- Darren England
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Bristol City 3.
Offside, Middlesbrough. Dejan Stojanovic tries a through ball, but Britt Assombalonga is caught offside.
Foul by Marley Watkins (Bristol City).
Marvin Johnson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Marley Watkins (Bristol City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).
Foul by Marley Watkins (Bristol City).
Dael Fry (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Bristol City. Ádám Nagy replaces Jamie Paterson because of an injury.
Substitution, Bristol City. Zak Vyner replaces Jack Hunt.
Substitution, Bristol City. Callum O'Dowda replaces Nahki Wells.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Adam Clayton replaces Jonny Howson.
Substitution, Bristol City. Marley Watkins replaces Famara Diédhiou.
Goal! Middlesbrough 1, Bristol City 3. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lewis Wing.
Attempt blocked. Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Britt Assombalonga.
Goal! Middlesbrough 0, Bristol City 3. Nahki Wells (Bristol City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andreas Weimann with a through ball.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Hayden Coulson replaces Patrick McNair.
Attempt saved. Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Patrick Roberts.
Attempt blocked. Patrick Roberts (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcus Tavernier.