Boro maintained the promotion challenge with a comfortable win against QPR at the Riverside.
First half goals from Jonny Howson and Ashley Fletcher proved decisive as Boro turned in a strong home performance to inflict a seventh successive defeat on the London side. Tony Pulis’ side controlled the game from the off and were a constant threat throughout in recording a first home league win of 2019.
It took less than two minutes for Boro to take the lead. Mo Besic found Howson with a delightful ball forward and with the aid of a deflection off visiting goalkeeper Joe Lumley, the former Norwich man was able to claim the opening goal of the game.
It was a perfect start and set the tone. Britt Assombalonga had a shot deflected for a corner, and Besic went even closer when his 25-yarder grazed the upright.
The second goal came shortly after the half-hour with Besic again playing a part in proceedings. This time the midfield man picked out Fletcher, who took the ball on before delivering a strike which clipped the underside of the bar.
Had it not been for the left hand of Lumley it would have been 3-0 moments later. Assombalonga seized upon some shoddy defending by Toni Leistner, but the QPR keeper spread himself well to get a decisive touch on the shot.
Fletcher was next to go close after combining well with Assombalonga before shooting narrowly wide from the angle. George Saville was another who went close when he sent one just over the top from distance.
Although the game was largely one-way traffic, Darren Randolph was called upon to make a save from Eberechi Eze, Dael Fry got in a decisive block, while Daniel Ayala was assured and commanding as he wore the captain’s armband for the first time.
Tomer Hemed was also presented with a great chance shortly after the hour but somehow stabbed a shot wide with the goal at his mercy. It was a big moment for QPR and they almost paid double for it when Assombalonga found the net from Boro’s next attack – but the effort was chalked off by the referee's whistle for a free kick in the build-up.
Assombalonga was also presented with another great chance – this time by Marcus Tavernier – but his shot was straight at Lumley, and Lewis Wing also went close with another of his trademark strikes from distance.
Boro: Randolph, Ayala, Shotton, Fry, Howson, Wing, Mikel, Besic (Downing 59), Saville, Fletcher (Tavernier 72), Assombalonga (Hugill). Subs: Dimi, Clayon,, McNair, van La Parra.
QPR: Lumley, Furlong, Bidwell, Hall, Cousins, Eze, Manning (Osayi-Samuel 46), Hemed (Smith 69), Luongo, Wszolek, Leistner. Subs: Ingram, Scowen,, Kakay, Wells, Lynch.
Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 22,308 (421 QPR)