Blackburn 1 – 0 M’boro

Blackburn climbed into the Sky Bet Championship automatic promotion places after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Monday night.

An entertaining encounter between two of the promotion frontrunners – which was delayed for nine minutes midway through the second half due to a medical emergency – was settled by Sam Gallagher’s sixth goal of the season, which was aided by Paddy McNair’s mis-kick (76).

Tony Mowbray’s side move above Bournemouth into second-place as a result of their eighth league win in 10 games – despite having played one game more than the Cherries.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough – who have dropped just seven points since Chris Wilder was appointed on November 7 – remain seventh, two points outside the play-off places, with a game in hand.

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Blackburn’s Sam Gallagher gave his side a 1-0 lead over Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship after capitalising on a defensive mistake by Paddy McNair.

How a narrow win saw Blackburn climb again

Without leading goalscorer Ben Brereton Diaz – who is on international duty with Chile until early February – there were questions as to where Blackburn’s attacking threat was going to come from against one of the division’s form sides, but while Boro’s Joe Lumley was seldom tested, the chances came at regular intervals.

A quick reaction from the goalkeeper prevented Matt Crooks inadvertently turning the ball into his own net after an attempt to block off Jan Paul van Hecke at a corner, before John Buckley had a shot charged down and Reda Khadra whipped a fierce free-kick over from 20 yards.

Blackburn have moved into the top two following victory

If that wasn’t enough, Mowbray’s men restricted their opponents to a grand total of zero shots throughout the first 45 minutes, despite their at times overwhelming, possessional dominance.

But right before the break, there was a contentious moment when young Middlesbrough wing-back Isaiah Jones was brought down by Tayo Edun in the penalty area. Jones did his best to stay on his feet, however, perhaps helping referee Darren England decide not to award a penalty.

Middlesbrough gained momentum after the break and were denied twice in quick succession, when Aaron Connolly saw a shot charged down moments before Matt Crooks’ close-range header was headed off the line by a perfectly-placed Lewis Travis.

The game was halted for nine minutes midway through the second half due to a medical emergency in the crowd, which was rapidly responded to by both the stewards and the medical staff of both teams.

Shortly after proceedings did get back under way, Gallagher scored what proved to be the winner. After Boro tried and failed to clear a corner on two occasions, a mis-kick from McNair allowed the ball to run for the striker, who wasted no time in firing a clinical effort into the bottom left corner.

Chris Wilder threw on Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun and Duncan Watmore to beef up the visitors’ attack in the closing stages, but it was Crooks again who had the final chance, leaping to meet a ball in from the right and steering another free header over the bar.

Man of the match – Sam Gallagher

Sky Sports’ Don Goodman on Sky Sports Football:

“I don’t just think it was his goal tonight. His all-round game was excellent, along with his effort and energy. But that was a big goal for Blackburn.”

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After scoring the winner in Blackburn’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough, Sam Gallagher claims the Rovers squad are focused on

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action at 3pm on Saturday January 29. Blackburn travel to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton, while Middlesbrough host Coventry at the Riverside Stadium.

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