Middlesbrough pounce on Sheffield United's defeat at Millwall as Michael Carrick's side cut gap to four points with win over QPR
Michael Carrick’s side made it five wins in a row to continue their promotion charge, but it was another miserable afternoon for Critchley, who has won just one of his 12 games in charge of the Hoops.
Akpom moved to 20 for the season with his second-half double, and although Ilias Chair was on target late on for Rangers, Boro wrapped up the points as Riley McGree hammered home from close range in stoppage time.
Boro thought they had opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Akpom clinically found the bottom corner with his left foot, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The in-form hosts were uncharacteristically sluggish in the first half and did not manage a shot on target before the interval. It was the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring late in the first half when a Sam Field shot from inside the box was brilliantly blocked and deflected wide by Paddy McNair.
Boro were much brighter after the restart and nearly opened the scoring just two minutes into the second half when a McGree shot at the end of a free-flowing counter attack was brilliantly turned onto the post by Rangers keeper Seny Dieng.
Boro were starting to move through the gears and Dieng was again called into action 10 minutes after the break when he was quick off his line to beat Akpom to a Cameron Archer through-ball.
It was one-way traffic and QPR were struggling to contain the Boro forward line.
Nineteen minutes into the second half, Boro got the goal they had been threatening since the restart. A corner from the right was only half cleared and a Dan Barlaser cross was headed home by Akpom.
Making his first start for Boro after his January move from Rotherham, it was Barlaser’s eighth assist of the season, taking him clear at the top of the Championship charts.
And Akpom moved further ahead at the top of the division’s goal charts when he added his second of the afternoon 13 minutes from time to wrap up the points for Boro. The hosts won a penalty when McGree went down under the challenge of Tim Iroegbunam. Akpom’s spot-kick was saved by Dieng, but the striker was on hand to turn home the rebound.
Chair made it a nervous finale for Boro when he caught Zack Steffen out of position to score direct from a free-kick from midway inside the home half on 89 minutes, but McGree sealed the points for Boro when he hammered home from close range in stoppage-time.