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Middlesbrough 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Boro keep play-off hopes alive

Middlesbrough kept alive their hopes of a play-off place with a dominant display against lowly Sheffield Wednesday.

Michael Ihiekwe put through his own net to hand Boro the advantage and in a one-way second half Isaiah Jones' driven shot-cum-cross deflected past goalkeeper James Beadle to make sure of the points.

Sam Greenwood missed a penalty but it made no difference, and with Norwich losing in the early kick-off, the three points kept Michael Carrick's side in sight of the top six after a six-match unbeaten run.

Wednesday's recent good run under manager Danny Rohl has evaporated as defeat meant they have now picked up just one point from their past four games.

Wednesday had shown signs of a revival under Rohl since he replaced Xisco Munoz in October, with four straight wins giving them a fighting chance of staying up. But they faded badly after a decent start at the Riverside Stadium as they sought to build on the home draw with Swansea on Friday.

Marvin Johnson shot narrowly wide and Anthony Musaba was inches away from a cross as Wednesday started well enough, but once Boro got into their stride the game was only heading one way.

Isaiah Jones blazed a decent chance over the bar, but before half-time Greenwood's corner was headed by Emmanuel Latte Lath and deflected in off Ihiekwe to put Boro ahead.

Ihiekwe denied Dan Barlaser a second in added time, but the second half was little short of a Boro onslaught.

Keeper James Beadle thrust out a leg to deny Latte Lath and from the resulting corner Wednesday survived a loud penalty appeal when Lewis O'Brien appeared to be fouled as he shaped to shoot.

Jones' shot then hit the hand of Johnson as the officials again failed to spot anything amiss, but Latte Lath and Greenwood both went close before Boro made sure of the points in the 74th minute.

Luke Ayling fed Jones and when he drove the ball into the box it looped off Barry Bannan to wrongfoot Beadle and drop into the net.

Wednesday forced a first save from Boro keeper Seny Dieng in the 76th minute, a fine stop from Ike Ugbo, and Boro missed the chance to make the scoreline more emphatic when Bannan was adjudged to have handled and Greenwood fired his spot-kick against the post.

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick told BBC Radio Tees:

"It was a game we wanted to control and stop the transitions and not defend over large spaces. We played some good football and looked solid defensively.

"We took control after the first 15 minutes when they had a bit more of the ball.

"One-nil can sometimes be quite dangerous, so we were conscious at half-time of making that next step and getting more of a foothold in the game.

"We had opportunities and looked dangerous but it drifted for a few minutes, but all of a sudden we got the goal and should have scored one more.

"You have to give yourselves a chance (to make the play-offs) but it's been made hard at times by injuries, but we are where we are now and have to embrace the challenge and ride the wave as much as you can.

"We are in a good place and hitting form at a good time."

Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Rohl told BBC Radio Sheffield:

"There was nothing, honestly. One-nil, then nothing. Our supporters were massive until the end but our performance until the end wasn't good enough and in the end we were lucky we just conceded two goals.

"It was the basics. If you lose the ball, you have to show a reaction. There was not one guy on a good level today.

"You can think about Friday-Monday and not being fresh enough, but for me this is an excuse, and in our situation there is no time for excuses. We have to fight, and if you invest a lot and still lose then you say 'OK, the opponent was stronger' but if you don't invest enough you have to think about our attitude and mentality, and it was a long time ago that we last showed this face of our team.

"I'm a bit surprised because on Friday we showed that we wanted to win the game and fought until the end."