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Riverside Stadium (ATT 22,882) 26th December 2012 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: M Atkinson

M'boro Middlesbrough vs Blackburn Rovers Blackburn

M'boro 1

L Jutkiewicz (67)

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Lukas Jutkiewicz fires second-half winner as Middlesbrough edge Blackburn 1-0

Last Updated: 26/12/12 5:27pm

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Lukas Jutkiewicz: Hit the winner for Middlesbrough

Lukas Jutkiewicz: Hit the winner for Middlesbrough

Lukas Jutkiewicz struck the game's solitary goal midway through the second half as Middlesbrough kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Blackburn at the Riverside Stadium.

Polish striker Jutkiewicz struck for the second successive game with a clinical low finish from the edge of the penalty area to lift Tony Mowbray's side up to third, within a point of second-placed Hull.

Blackburn, who have now won only once under manager Henning Berg in 10 matches, were made to pay for missed chances and continue to slide down the table after securing just one point from their last six fixtures.

Rovers' late substitute Ruben Rochina was denied a late equaliser when Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele kept out his free-kick, but the home side were also guilty of some wasteful finishing.

Middlesbrough made the brighter start as Jutkiewicz and Ledesma both fired over the crossbar from inside the penalty area before 16-goal Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes fired a shot just off target at the other end.

Rosado then tested Steele with a swirling, angled drive from 35 yards that was well held by the Boro goalkeeper and in a see-saw opening Jutkiewicz's header from Ledesma's cross was gathered by Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean.

Middlesbrough defender George Friend and midfield team-mate Grant Leadbitter both fired in shots from outside the area, but the home side were given a let-off in the 24th minute when Rhodes spurned a gilt-edged chance from close range.

Boro continued to rain in shots from long range. Rosado, again from more than 30 yards, striker Scott McDonald and Ledesma all tried their luck from distance before the break, but the score remained goalless at the interval.

Jutkiewicz was next to waste a golden opportunity when he headed wide from six yards from McDonald's telling cross in the 50th minute, while Rovers striker Colin Kazim-Richards saw his header saved by Steele before blazing the rebound over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.

Jutkiewicz dragged an angled shot wide and forward team-mate Marvin Emnes arrowed a 25-yard effort off target, but in the 67th minute Boro broke the deadlock.

McDonald pulled the ball back towards the edge of the penalty area from the left and Jutkiewicz buried a low, right-footed shot into the bottom corner for his seventh goal of the season.

Blackburn boss Berg replaced Rosado with David Dunn in the 78th minute before fellow midfielder Jason Lowe fired a low angled shot just wide and moments later visiting goalkeeper Kean denied Boro a second when tipping McDonald's close-range effort over the crossbar at full stretch.

Rovers almost snatched a point in the final minute, but Rochina's goalbound free-kick was brilliantly saved by Boro keeper Steele.

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Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Derby County 33 65
2 Middlesbrough 33 63
3 Ipswich Town 33 60
4 Bournemouth 33 59
5 Norwich City 33 59
6 Watford 33 59
7 Brentford 33 58
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 33 54
9 Nottingham Forest 33 47
10 Blackburn Rovers 33 44
11 Sheffield Wednesday 33 43
12 Huddersfield Town 33 42
13 Cardiff City 33 41
14 Leeds United 33 41
15 Reading 33 40
16 Charlton Athletic 33 39
17 Birmingham City 33 39
18 Brighton and Hove Albion 33 37
19 Bolton Wanderers 33 37
20 Fulham 33 36
21 Rotherham United 33 34
22 Millwall 33 31
23 Wigan Athletic 33 25
24 Blackpool 33 22