Middlesbrough bounced back from defeat to Watford with a convincing 2-0 win over struggling Rotherham United.
After losing by the same scoreline on Easter Monday, Aitor Karanka’s kept their automatic promotion hopes alive with their 14th home win of the season thanks to second-half goals by Lee Tomlin and Patrick Bamford, who also missed a late penalty.
But with the top three sides all winning, Boro stayed fourth in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Karanka said: “It’s another important three points because the other teams at the top have won.
“We have to keep going winning the games and we have to keep going in these final four games. We have to concentrate on ourselves.
“If we win four games we’ll get promotion but it’s very difficult to do that.
“At this time every single point is important as all the other teams at the top have won - and we’re still up there fighting for a top-two place.”
The Millers remain seven points above the relegation places and assistamt manager Paul Raynor added: “We’ve got games to play and points to pick up and we’ve got our eye on other results as well.
“We can’t rely on others, we’ve got to look after ourselves. If we can stay in this division and establish ourselves we’ll get better, but this season is about survival now.
“People are saying it might be a point or two or three that sees us safe. Let’s get a couple of wins and then we can all relax.”
After a quiet start, Boro soon started to find their feet and when Rotherham failed to clear a corner in the 10th minute, returning defender Daniel Ayala tried an ambitious bicycle kick which went straight into Emiliano Martinez’s hands.
The home side dominated the first half and on the half-hour they had two bites at the cherry. First Ayala’s header was cleared off the line before Tomlin’s follow-up shot was blocked.
It was Albert Adomah’s turn to have a pop three minutes later when he shot from just inside the area, but Martinez did well to get down to it, and he was also denied by Danny Lafferty on the line minutes later.
The opening goal came five minutes into the second half when Tomlin pressed forward and the Millers defenders stood off the forward, allowing him time and space to plant a low shot past Martinez.
The United keeper had to be on his toes again five minutes after the goal when Kike played a smart ball in behind the defence for Bamford, but Martinez did well to smother the ball at his feet.
Kike had a shot saved on the hour before Bamford doubled Boro’s lead six minutes later with his 16th goal of the season.
Tomlin laid the ball off for the Chelsea forward and he took one touch before coolly rolling the ball past Martinez into the bottom corner.
Rotherham had a rare shot at goal after 73 minutes when substitute Lee Frecklington hit a powerful drive which had Dimi Konstantopoulos beaten but it flew past his post.
But it was Boro who looked like the only side capable of scoring and the third nearly came in the 77th minute when Tomlin clipped an exquisite ball to the back post but Bamford’s first-time half-volley was easily saved by Martinez at his near post.
Sub Emilio Nsue should have made it three with two minutes to go when he had an open goal but his shot was deflected just wide.
And from the resulting corner Kike met Adam Forshaw’s ball with a thumping header which Martinez had to tip over the bar.
Bamford should have bagged his 17th goal of the season when Richard Wood brought Kike down in the area, but the forward’s poor spot-kick was saved by Martinez.