It was a tale of two penalties at the Riverside as Boro’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Norwich City.
Marcus Tavernier had a converted spot-kick ruled out after touching the ball twice, but when Teemu Pukki was offered the same opportunity for the visitors, he made no mistake in scoring the all-important winner.
It was brutal on Boro who deserved a draw at the very least, if not all three points, after another strong performance. Boro had Norwich rattled for long periods, and the former Premier League side would have been happy to escape Teesside with a point.
Former Riverside favourite Ben Gibson made two vital first half clearances, firstly getting a decisive touch on a Djed Spence cross when Chuba Akpom was well-placed to convert, and then preventing an Akpom cross into a crowded box.
Norwich’s Tim Krull was the busier of the two goalkeepers. His defence bailed him out after he was caught going walkabout, but he had to be alert to claw away a Paddy McNair cross before reacting well to deny Marvin Johnson after more good build-up play by Boro.
The visiting goalkeeper also did well to fist away a Spence ball into the box and he was well-placed to gather a header from Jonny Howson after a George Saville cross.
Marcus Bettinelli watched shots from Lukas Rupp and Emi Buendía fly wide of the mark while Dael Fry did well to block from Marco Stiepermann after great skill by Rupp to create the opening.
The second half saw some desperate defending to deny a combination of Tavernier, Akpom, and Spence, but the ensuing scramble ended with the former being hacked down inside the box by Gibson. Tavernier stepped up to take the resultant penalty, but slipped and the successful conversion was ruled out due to him touching the ball twice.
Midway through the second period, Sam Folarin was introduced for his league debut as part of a double change that also saw Hayden Coulson enter the fray, and the injection of pace had an immediate impact with Norwich making a vital block to deny Marc Bola.
As Boro stayed on the front foot, Tavernier sent a shot over the top and the same man also reacted quickly to pressure Krull who went on walkabout once again.
But Norwich were offered their opportunity with 19 minutes left on the clock when Coulson was adjudged to have fouled Max Aarons in the box. Pukki stepped up to convert the penalty and slotted home his fifth goal of the season.
Bola was also called upon to make another intervention when Norwich threatened again as the game headed into its final stages.