Middlesbrough 3-1 Birmingham City

Jacob Butterfield celebrates

Birmingham lie only four points above the Championship relegation zone after defeat at nine-man Middlesbrough.

Danny Graham slotted home for the hosts before Jacob Butterfield doubled the lead from distance.

Emyr Huws's dipping shot from 35 yards got one back for Blues, before Boro pair Kenneth Omeruo and Ben Gibson were both sent off for second bookings.

But Lee Tomlin smashed home his first goal for Boro to seal the points.

A third successive win leaves the Teessiders eight points off the play-off places but, with only five games remaining, a top-six finish looks unlikely.

The deadlock was broken just before the half-hour mark when Grant Leadbitter's corner from the right was nodded down to Graham, who converted from inside the six-yard box

Less than two minutes later, a long-range strike from Butterfield flew past Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph to double Boro's advantage.

The Blues refused to lie down, though, and, after Manchester City loanee Huws had halved the deficit with a thunderbolt, Shinnie came close to equalising before the break from Callum Reilly's cross.

Randolph twice denied Graham after the restart as Aitor Karanka's side threatened to put the match to bed while, at the other end, Ibe - who came on as a second-half substitute for Shinnie - fired off target with a low drive.

Omeruo and Gibson were both shown second yellows for fouling Ibe and Nikola Zigic respectively.

But, despite Birmingham's two-man advantage, Tomlin capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Tom Thorpe and Paul Robinson to smash the ball into the back of the net.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka: "I don't want to speak about the play-offs because the moment we speak about the play-offs, we will lose our next game.

"I prefer to think about the next game at Burnley as being one against a team near the top of the table and we have to go there to win the game.

"We have won the last three games and for this I am very happy."

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Blues can expect set-piece practice

Birmingham manager Lee Clark: "Our decision-making in the second half was astounding.

"It's starting to scare us, to be honest, in terms of the young players coming through.

"They need the mentality of how to win games. I think they'd rather do a trick or a flick rather than put the ball in the net."

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leicester41278677423589
2Burnley412314466343283
3Derby412191172472572
4QPR4120101149371270
5Wigan4119101254401467
6Reading4117121262491363
7Brighton411613124637961
8Ipswich411613125346761
9Bournemouth411710145857161
10Nottm Forest411417106053759
11Blackburn411514125653359
12Watford4014141264481656
13Middlesbrough411316125344955
14Bolton411215145356-351
15Sheff Wed411213165252049
16Leeds41138205263-1147
17Huddersfield411210195057-746
18Birmingham411110205363-1043
19Doncaster411110203762-2543
20Blackpool411012193559-2442
21Charlton391011183050-2041
22Millwall41912204070-3039
23Barnsley40812203866-2836
24Yeovil41811224166-2535
View full Championship table

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