25.01.2022 00:26 h

Blackburn edge past Boro to go second in Championship

Sam Gallagher's goal earned Blackburn Rovers a 1-0 win at home to Middlesbrough as the northwest side bolstered their bid for automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Only the top two at the end of the regular in the Championship season are guaranteed a place in the top flight and and Rovers' victory saw them go second, three points clear of Bournemouth, who have a game in hand.

Table-toppers Fulham are five points in front of Blackburn, having also played 27 league matches to Rovers' 28 games.

There were five academy players in the Rovers team, with manager Tony Mowbray delighted by the way they coped against his former club.

"I ask them every week to go out there and grow up as men, which you have to do against Middlesbrough," he told Sky Sports.

"You know when you play any Middlesbrough team, you have to bring your sword and shield and fight because they are coming for you -- and we did tonight."

Victory was all the sweeter for Mowbray's men given a 2-0 loss to Hull last time out, with the Blackburn boss adding: "We're just delighted to get the points off the back of a defeat. It is really important to bounce back and we did that."

Blackburn were without 20-goal top scorer Ben Brereton Diaz, away on international duty with Chile.

But they still had enough firepower to beat Boro, with Gallagher's 76th-minute goal proving decisive.

The visitors had arguably the better chances, with Matt Crooks having a header cleared off the line and Aaron Connolly going close in 12 minutes of injury time played after a supporter, later announced to be "conscious and breathing", received medical treatment.

Before those near missed, Gallagher unleashed a superb shot into the bottom corner to the delight of the Ewood Park faithful.

Defeat ended Middlesbrough's run of four straight wins and left them seventh in the table, just outside the play-off places.

"We had a little bit of a reaction after half time, but that the guy in the crowd is safe and well is the biggest thing tonight," said Boro manager Chris Wilder.

He added: "From a footballing point of view, it shouldn't really need to be a reaction after half time. This is a top-end Championship game and I'll take the responsibility because maybe I didn't get that into my players enough."