M’boro 2 – 0 N Forest

Middlesbrough entered the Sky Bet Championship playoffs for only the second time this season by beating Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Riverside.

Chris Wilder’s fit side have achieved their fourth win in their last five games thanks to a comical own goal from Ryan Yates and a second-half goal from Andraz Sporar to secure a well-deserved victory.

The Forests have been outdone all along, with their good run of form under Steve Cooper coming to a sensational end.

Middlesbrough had the lead from the start and nearly took the lead in just 5 minutes. Isaiah Jones sets the ball for the recalled Onel Hernandez, but the Cuban’s shot from the edge of the area is deflected just wide.

Forest entered the match after suffering only one defeat in the previous 16 matches, but was unable to live with the pace and fluidity of Boro’s attack for much of the match.

That said, they were undoubtedly their worst enemies as they conceded a farcical opening on the 17 ‘.

Yates received the ball from goalkeeper Brice Samba near the edge of his own area and after turning to his own goal did not look over his shoulder as he threw a pass back where he thought Samba was standing. Samba was nowhere near close and the pair remained red-faced as the ball rolled into the net.

This was the trigger for an extended period of pressure from Middlesbrough which should have led to a second goal before half-time.

A stretched Sporar failed to reach Jones’s cross before firing into a low shot that Samba blocked with his legs, Hernandez saw a shot just deflected from the edge of the 18-yard area and even full-back Neil Taylor punched in. a dangerous effort that Samba parried.

Boro’s best chance in the first half to increase his lead came towards the end of the first period, but Jones flew a deep Taylor cross into the outside of a post.

Forest’s offensive threat before half-time was virtually nonexistent, although Paddy McNair produced an excellent interception just before half-time when Philip Zinckernagel wasted Lewis Grabban’s clever through ball with a poor first touch.

Cooper turned things around at half-time, putting in Joao Carvalho and moving to a four-handed defensive pot, and the visitors improved a lot after the break. In fact, they should have been at the level of the hour.

Brennan Johnson overtook McNair and entered from the right of the area from 18 yards, but while his pull-back was perfectly positioned for Zinckernagel, the Dane pulled out from eight yards.

Forest came close to scoring again four minutes later with Joe Worrall heading to the top of the net after catching Johnson’s cross, and their inability to catch one of their second-half chances proved costly. when Boro doubled his lead with 21 minutes left.

Matt Crooks crossed from the right after Jones’s pass released him into space, and as Samba clawed the ball away from his goal, it fell invitingly for Spora, who swept the rebound home.

The second goal settled matters, though Forest hit the wood with a minute left as substitute Xande Silva directed a wide shot into the right post.

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