Lukas Jutkiewicz grabbed a goal in each half to end Middlesbrough’s search for a first away win and left Blackburn manager Steve Kean facing familiar vitriol from the Ewood Park home fans.
Boro were without a point on their travels in three attempts this season but took an early lead when the recalled Jutkiewicz was played in by Marvin Emnes.
Rovers – top of the Championship and unbeaten before last night – scarcely fashioned an opportunity of note in the first half, although Fabio Nunes’s cross hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
Mustapha Carayol, who had a shot cleared off the line in the opening minute of the second period, then found Jutkiewicz just after the hour mark to head Boro’s second.
That brought the regular chants of “Kean Out” to a crescendo and a stoppage-time goal from substitute Grant Hanley, amid a valiant late rally, could not prevent further barracking at the final whistle.
Blackpool, Brighton, Hull City and Cardiff could all replace Blackburn at the summit with a positive result today, while Boro edged into the play-off places.
Nuno Gomes was restored to Blackburn’s line-up having come off the bench to score the winner against Barnsley in midweek.
Jutkiewicz replaced Ishmael Miller in Tony Mowbray’s only change to the side beaten 4-1 at Blackpool on Tuesday.
It took only six minutes for him to justify his selection, collecting Emnes’s return pass from his own flick-on to slot beyond Paul Robinson at the near post.
Boro’s set plays were unsettling Rovers and Grant Leadbitter almost curled directly into the far corner from the left flank with Robinson grasping at fresh air midway through the half.
Nuno Gomes provided eye-catching touches when involved but Josh McEachran, Kevin Thomson and Leadbitter were overrunning Rovers in midfield, where Dickson Etuhu’s distribution was particularly erratic.
Carayol was the provider when Middlesbrough made it 2-0, drifting infield to clip an excellent ball to the far post for Jutkiewicz to steer in a superb header.
Hanley, on for the injured Olsson, handed Rovers a stoppagetime lifeline by heading home Nunes’s cross but Boro held on under frantic, sustained pressure.
Blackburn: Robinson, Orr, Dann, Givet, Martin Olsson (Grant Hanley 48), Ribeiro (Formica 46), Murphy, Etuhu, Nunes, Nuno Gomes, Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Kean,Lowe, Dunn, Pedersen, Rochina.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Woodgate (Hines 84), Bikey, Friend, Thomson, Carayol (Zemmama 88), Leadbitter (Bailey 88), McEachran, Emnes, Jutkiewicz. Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Ledesma, Arca, Luke Williams.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).