Goals from Gaston Ramirez and Stewart Downing either side of half-time helped Middlesbrough to a 2-0 win over Bournemouth at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, thus ending their seven-game winless streak in the Premier League.
Middlesbrough had not won a game since beating Sunderland 2-1 on August 21, collecting just three points from their following seven fixtures.
Their poor run of form had seen them drop to 17th in the table, level on points with 18th-placed Hull, with relegation slowly becoming a serious concern.
Bournemouth on the other hand were high on confidence heading into the game after going four without defeat, holding Tottenham to a scoreless draw last week.
And the visitors also had the better start as they came close via Joshua King twice in the opening 30 minutes.
But Aitor Karanka's men slowly grew into the game and went a goal up following a superb solo effort from Ramirez late in the first half, before Downing claimed the crucial second after the break with a tap-in to help his side earn a first home win of the campaign.
Bournemouth came close to opening the scoring in the 13th minute following a corner from Jack Wilshere, with King shaking off his marker and directing a shot toward the near post, only for Adam Clayton to clear the ball off the goal-line.
The visitors got another chance to break the deadlock via King when he struck the crossbar in the 27th minute. Wilshere lifted a sublime ball over the top for King, who chested the ball down before unleashing a powerful shot with the outside of his right boot, but goalkeeper Victor Valdes did well to get a fingertip to it and push it against the woodwork.
Middlesbrough first threatened in the 37th minute when George Friend tried his luck with a rasping shot after playing a clever one-two with Ramirez, his effort from inside the box just missing the top corner.
Ramirez then gave Middlesbrough the lead with a sublime solo effort. The attacking midfielder started his run in his own half, outpaced Wilshere on his way to the area, then danced past Andrew Surman and beat Artur Boruc with a calm right-footed finish.
The home side went in search of a second after the break and it arrived in the 56th minute.
Adama Traore found Alvaro Negredo with a sublime cross, the Spanish striker headed it into Downing's path and the winger had no trouble finding the net from close range.
Negredo should have sealed the win after being put clean through by Adam Forshaw, but the experienced attacker's low attempt lacked the power to really worry Boruc.
Bournemouth pushed hard to get back into the game and Benik Afobe, Harry Arter and Adam Smith all got chances to pull one back, but Valdes proved to be too much of an obstacle.
Boro held firm for a 2-0 win, with the visitors ending the match with 10 men due to an injury to Surman after Eddie Howe had already made three changes.
Key Opta stats:
- Bournemouth are without a win in their last seven away Premier League games, their longest such run in the competition.
- Middlesbrough won for the first time in their last eight Premier League games (D3 L4).
- Gaston Ramirez has scored his first Premier League goal since December 2014 (v Sunderland).
- Six of Middlesbrough's nine league goals this season have come in the first-half.
- Bournemouth have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 Premier League games away from home.