Match ends, Middlesbrough 4, Ipswich Town 1.
Middlesbrough stayed with the pace at the top of the Championship with a superb win over rivals Ipswich.
Daniel Ayala gave Boro the advantage with a firm header in the fourth minute before Town's Daryl Murphy tapped in.
Boro regained the lead through Albert Adomah, who drilled in, before Patrick Bamford struck twice after the break with two brilliant individual efforts.
Town suffered an early blow when keeper Dean Gerken was carried off with an injury suffered during the first goal.
There was an eight-minute stoppage as Gerken, who appeared to collide with one of his players in a bid to reach Adam Clayton's cross for the goal, received treatment on the pitch.
He was taken off on a stretcher and replaced by Bartosz Bialkowski. Reports later said Gerken was fine but would going to hospital for a full check.
The delay appeared to give Ipswich's players time to regroup and they equalised soon after the restart when keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos parried Jonathan Parr's shot into the path of Murphy, who was left with a simple finish.
The visitors - who started the day five points off the quartet of Bournemouth, Derby, Watford and Boro - went agonisingly close to taking the lead when Murphy's shot took a huge deflection and came off the post into the hands of the Boro stopper.
Instead it was manager Aitor Karanka's side who made it 2-1 when Ghana winger Adomah gave Bialkowski little chance with a fierce strike.
And after a quiet start to the second period, Boro's top scorer Bamford extended the advantage when he collected the ball from Jelle Vossen before running into the area and slotting in.
Bamford then scored the goal of the match. On this occasion, the former Nottingham Forest man turned and sold a dummy to Tommy Smith before finishing with a low shot.
Boro have 69 points and are third on goal difference behind Watford and leaders Bournemouth, who won later on Saturday.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka:
"Patrick deserves those goals for his work rate and he showed great confidence in the way he took both of them.
"It was massive to win, we needed a performance today and I thought we were brilliant against a good, strong team.
"We've played against a very strong team who finished the game with four strikers and the main thing is that we're eight points ahead of them in seventh.
"To be eight points ahead of them is a good situation for us."
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy:
"We worked on defending corners and conceded two goals from them.
"We were great in the first half and second half we were undone by a really good goal by Patrick Bamford, it's great play by him.
"I'll take responsibility after 3-1. I threw strikers on, we were all over the place and a bit of a shambles at the end. We're organised at corners normally and shouldn't concede."
- 6GibsonBooked at 55mins
- 4AyalaSubstituted forWoodgateat 24'minutes
- 7LeadbitterSubstituted forNsueat 88'minutes
- 27AdomahBooked at 78mins
- 20ReachBooked at 73mins
- 21VossenSubstituted forForshawat 68'minutes
- 1GerkenSubstituted forBialkowskiat 10'minutes
- 5SmithBooked at 28mins
- 27BishopBooked at 45minsSubstituted forVarneyat 84'minutes
- 18TabbSubstituted forWoodat 69'minutes
- Mike Jones
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 4, Ipswich Town 1.
Corner, Ipswich Town. Conceded by Adam Reach.
Luke Varney (Ipswich Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough).
Attempt missed. Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Adam Forshaw with a headed pass.
Attempt missed. Emilio Nsue Lopez (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Albert Adomah with a cross.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Emilio Nsue Lopez replaces Grant Leadbitter.
Attempt missed. Luke Varney (Ipswich Town) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Daryl Murphy with a cross.
Attempt missed. Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Albert Adomah following a fast break.
Substitution, Ipswich Town. Luke Varney replaces Teddy Bishop.
Corner, Ipswich Town. Conceded by Patrick Bamford.
Corner, Ipswich Town. Conceded by Tomas Kalas.
Attempt blocked. Freddie Sears (Ipswich Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Daryl Murphy.
Attempt missed. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Adam Forshaw.
Goal! Middlesbrough 4, Ipswich Town 1. Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Grant Leadbitter.
Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt blocked. Jonathan Parr (Ipswich Town) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Teddy Bishop.
Corner, Ipswich Town. Conceded by George Friend.
Foul by Chris Wood (Ipswich Town).