Middlesbrough 0-2 Reading

Reading held off Middlesbrough to record a fifth successive victory in the Championship and maintain their push for automatic promotion.

Noel Hunt scored from close range in the 17th minute while Ian Harte curled a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner late on as Reading climbed to third.

In between, Rhys Williams tested Royals keeper Adam Federici with a looping header while Julio Arca fired over.

Federici then kept out two efforts from Lukas Jutkiewicz before Harte's strike.

Reading's goals bookended a game that saw Middlesbrough enjoy large spells of possession.

Republic of Ireland striker Hunt poached the first from six yards after Alex Pearce nodded a Harte cross back across goal into his path.

Boro created little in the first half but, after the interval, Williams worked Federici with a looping header and 25-yard effort, to give the home fans hope.

Reading came close to doubling their advantage but Jason Steele's outstretched boot denied striker Jason Roberts a fourth goal in five games following his January move from Blackburn.

Jutkiewicz then had two chances in as many minutes to draw his side level but the striker shot straight at Federici before bringing the best out of the Australian keeper with a header.

Harte eventually sealed the win with a trademark free-kick and the Royals were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the final minute when Jobi McAnuff appeared to be pulled down in the penalty box.

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Boro not clever enough - Mowbray

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray: "We didn't quite have the guile to break them down today.

"We had a lot of the ball and we played a lot of the game in their half but we need to be cuter and a bit more clever to make the most of our opportunities in and around the box.

"We are disappointed because we knew with the way the table stood we had a great opportunity and it is frustrating that we couldn't take it."

Reading manager Brian McDermott: "It was hard work today because Boro are a good team and we probably didn't make our first pass count as much as we would have liked.

"And it was a relief to get the second goal when we did because they were having a lot of the ball at that point.

"We are up to third now but we aren't getting carried away. After six games we were bottom of the league and we didn't get carried away about that too much either.

"There's still a long way to go yet."

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