MIDDLESBROUGH went top of the league after seeing off Sheffield Wednesday tonight.
The Teessiders, in front of their biggest crowd in three years, went ahead with a cracking goal.
But they were pulled back by Gary Madine’s first League strike of the season.
Then the home side notched a brace to seize control at the Riverside and deservedly take all three points.
Twentieth-placed Wednesday had been desperate to start a run of decent results and build on their 15 pts from 15 games.
And they had a couple of early half chances, one from Miguel Llera, before full back Justin Hoyte raced down the pitch after good work from Emmanuel Ledesma and hammered the ball high into the far side of Chris Kirkland’s net.
The goal came in the unlucky 13th minute.
Kirkland saved Wednesday shortly afterwards with a punched save from a vicious Grant Leadbitter free kick.
On 24 minutes, Jay Bothroyd forced a save out of Boro keeper Jason Steele after a right wing cross from Michail Antonio.
Antonio was then played through on goal and forced a save out of Steele, only to be pulled up for a handball.
But Josh McEachran nearly scored Boro’s second after taking on a number of Wednesday players, Kirkland making a smart save.
Wednesday then engineered two chances in a minute.
First Antonio forced a good save out of Steele after wriggling down the left.
From the resulting corner, Llera should have equalised but he poked the ball wide.
Three minutes into the second half Madine - appearing well offside - sidefooted in an equaliser after the ball was ‘chested’ down by Antonio.
After 53 minutes Leadbitter forced a comfortable save out of Kirkland after taking a shot from 25 yards out.
Boro took the lead again on the hour mark through Ishmael Miller, after midfielder Ledesma created the opportunity.
Ledesma had a effort from outside the area that took a big deflection off Anthony Gardner that sent the ball wide of Kirkland’s post for a corner.
But a Teesside gloom started to envelop Wednesday on 75 minutes, substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz extending the home lead, heading home Leadbitter’s in swinging corner.
With five minutes left Madine had a glorious opportunity to get a goal back for Wednesday but failed to beat Steele from close range.
Steele, Hoyte, Amougou, Friend, Woodgate, Leadbitter, McEachran, Emnes, Ledesma, McDonald, Miller.
Substitutes: Leutwiler, Hines, Parnaby, Zemmama, Bailey, Haroun, Jutkiewicz.
Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, D Jones, Llera, Semedo, Antonio, Corry, Barkley, Madine Bothroyd.
Substitutes: Davies, Taylor, Mattock, J Johnson, McCabe, O’Grady, Rodri.
Ref: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).
*Read Paul Thompson’s two-page analysis in tomorrow’s Star.