David Nugent’s incredible goalscoring run against Ipswich helped Middlesbrough to a win at Portman Road that moved them top of the Championship.
Boro took advantage of playing before their rivals with an assured second-half display to which play-off hopefuls Ipswich had no answer.
Christian Stuani broke the deadlock in the 54th minute before Nugent scored his 15th goal in 14 career matches against Ipswich to make the game safe.
A dominant second-half performance by the visitors was in stark contrast to a tight first 45 minutes that saw neither side give an inch.
Half chances were shared as Nugent and Stuani both failed to trouble Dean Gerken, while at the other end Brett Pitman’s long range effort was held by Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
A minute after the restart, Ipswich went close when Ben Gibson’s sloppy pass was picked up by the impressive Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
His cross was missed by Daniel Daniel Ayala, but Pitman’s downward header lacked power.
It was Boro who broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Albert Adomah found some space on the left-hand side before his dangerous cross was headed in at the back post by Stuani, despite the best efforts of Gerken.
The visitors deservedly doubled their lead when Downing’s incisive pass inside found Nugent. The striker still had a lot to do, with his low shot taking a deflection off Tommy Smith before finding the net via the inside of a post.
Ipswich: Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Maitland-Niles (Coke 63), Skuse, Douglas, Pitman (McGoldrick 86), Murphy, Sears. Unused substitutes: Parr, Tabb, Malarczyk, McDonnell, Bialkowski.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter, Stuani (Forshaw 85), Downing, Adomah, Nugent. Unused substitutes: Amorebieta, Garcia, Mejias, Kalas, Fabbrini, Zuculini.
Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex).