Match ends, Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 1.
Norwich moved top of the Championship after a tale of two second-half penalties saw them win at Middlesbrough.
Neil Warnock's Boro had edged the game but spurned the chance to go ahead just after the break when Marcus Tavernier's spot-kick was disallowed as he slipped and touched the ball twice as he struck from 12 yards.
Twenty minutes later, Norwich's Max Aarons was brought down in the box by Hayden Coulson and Teemu Pukki coolly sent home keeper Marcus Bettinelli the wrong way.
Boro could not create much in the closing stages, although Britt Assombalonga was denied from close range by an excellent Grant Hanley block.
Dropped points for Reading and Watford mean Daniel Farke's Canaries are a point clear at the summit, while their opponents drop a spot to eighth after a first defeat in 11 league games.
In a match between two of the Championship's best defences the lack of clear-cut opportunities was no surprise, though Marvin Johnson twice called Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul into action in the first half.
Middlesbrough were awarded a spot-kick when Tavernier was brought down by ex-Boro centre-back Ben Gibson and though the penalty was scored, it was ruled out as the midfielder had been unfortunate to touch the ball twice as he lost his footing.
Norwich gained impetus from their stroke of luck and Emi Buendia almost connected with Przemyslaw Placheta's low cross before half-time substitute Pukki side-footed his penalty into the corner.
Marc Bola put his body on the line to prevent the visitors scoring a second but Boro failed to score for a third match running and have now lost each of their last five league games against Norwich by a 1-0 scoreline.
Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock told BBC Tees:
"The left-back [Jacob Sorensen] should have been sent-off. The referee tells me that he didn't think he was going to catch the ball but when you look at it, it's only gone 10 yards past him.
"He's already been booked, we should have been playing against 10 men, but that's how it goes. And I'd have given the Norwich penalty if I was refereeing.
"I felt we had the best chances. I don't think Marcus [Bettinelli] has had a shot to save today.
"I am actually enjoying watching us play. I think we've got a great bunch of lads. We're a little bit limited, as we know, but they're doing their best."
Norwich manager Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:
"To be on top of the league is good for the mood and also for the confidence but it's not important at the moment after 12 games, what counts is where you are after 46 games.
"Middlesbrough is a tough place to go, they were on an eight-game unbeaten run and conceding just one goal in their last seven games so, that shows the size of the task today.
"It was a difficult game, keeping in mind we have several injuries and some players coming back from the international break, it's always tricky.
"Three points and a clean sheet seems massive today so compliments to the lads."
- 29SpenceSubstituted forFolarinat 66'minutes
- 7TavernierSubstituted forRobertsat 81'minutes
- 3JohnsonSubstituted forCoulsonat 66'minutes
- 10AkpomSubstituted forAssombalongaat 73'minutes
- 19Lungi SørensenBooked at 15minsSubstituted forVrancicat 90+4'minutes
- 17BuendíaSubstituted forMcLeanat 80'minutes
- 18StiepermannSubstituted forTetteyat 90+2'minutes
- 11PlachetaSubstituted forZimmermannat 90+2'minutes
- 9HugillSubstituted forPukkiat 45'minutes
- Tony Harrington
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 0, Norwich City 1.
Substitution, Norwich City. Mario Vrancic replaces Jacob Lungi Sørensen.
Oliver Skipp (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by George Saville (Middlesbrough).
Substitution, Norwich City. Alexander Tettey replaces Marco Stiepermann.
Substitution, Norwich City. Christoph Zimmermann replaces Przemyslaw Placheta.
Offside, Norwich City. Max Aarons tries a through ball, but Lukas Rupp is caught offside.
Foul by Oliver Skipp (Norwich City).
Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jacob Lungi Sørensen (Norwich City).
Sam Folarin (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Przemyslaw Placheta (Norwich City).
Anfernee Dijksteel (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Kenny McLean (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marc Bola (Middlesbrough).
Hand ball by Lukas Rupp (Norwich City).
Marco Stiepermann (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough).
Attempt blocked. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
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