Stewart Downing declared Middlesbrough’s win over Bournemouth “a perfect day” after chalking off important milestones for himself and the club.
The match will be remembered for Gaston Ramirez’s scintillating 70-yard run and finish, already a credible contender for goal of the season, but of wider significance was Boro’s first home win of the campaign.
With games against Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea on the horizon, it was a crucial three points for the Teessiders following a mixed start to the campaign.
Downing had his own reasons to celebrate too, finishing a fine move from close range to double the lead early in the second half.
That was his first top-flight strike since returning to his hometown club, the last having come in May 2008 in an 8-1 win against Manchester City.
“It was the perfect day. We played well, defended well, attacked, got goals and could have got a couple more,” he said.
“It was a really big win for us. It gets that monkey off our back.
“I haven’t scored for a while and it’s pleasing when the team wins. Getting the goal was the bonus.
“The timing of it was important. I wouldn’t say it killed them but it makes them have to force it a little, so we countered a few times and could have scored more.”
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Forshaw, Clayton, Traore (Fischer 90), Ramirez (Leadbitter 63), Downing, Negredo (Rhodes 86). Unused substitutes: Da Silva, Bernardo, Guzan, Nugent.
Bournemouth: Boruc, A Smith, Francis, S Cook, Daniels, Surman, Arter (Gosling 73), King, Wilshere, Ibe (Fraser 60), C Wilson (Afobe 60). Unused substitutes: Ake, Gradel, Federici, Mings.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).