Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Burnley 0.
Emilio Nsue's second-half goal earned a scrappy win over Burnley as Middlesbrough overtook Brighton at the top of the Championship.
George Boyd had the best chance of the first half for the Clarets but his low shot was saved by Dimitrios Konstantopoulos at the near post.
Nsue broke the deadlock when he turned in Adam Forshaw's low cross.
Boro kept a seventh clean sheet in eight games and are ahead of Brighton, who they face next, on goal difference.
The Seagulls slipped behind Aitor Karanka's side after they let a two-goal lead slip at QPR.
Middlesbrough, without suspended striker David Nugent, struggled to break down a dogged Burnley, who have not won in six games but remain fifth in the league.
Nsue's second goal of the season proved a crucial intervention to earn Boro an eighth home win of the season.
Substitute Cristhian Stuani and Albert Adomah could have wrapped it up for the hosts late on, but poor finishing and a good Tom Heaton save kept it at 1-0.
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka: "Our performance maybe wasn't the best and not the nicest to watch but it's nice to look at the table and see us at the top. It means we're doing a good job. But we need to be there at the end of the season.
"It took me three days to decide the team. I asked my staff about who to play in the first XI, and all of them gave me four different team sheets. Mine was different but the players who played did really well in terms of their attitude."
Burnley manager Sean Dyche: "We've won nine out of 12 before this, so we know how to win games, it has deserted us for the moment.
"There are a lot of runners and riders this season but we think we're among that. We think we're close, but the margins are so fine at the top end of this division.
"Tonight we played with calmness and assuredness, but we just let ourselves down in the final third."
- 4AyalaBooked at 85mins
- 34ForshawSubstituted forAdomahat 89'minutes
- 31FabbriniSubstituted forLeadbitterat 65'minutes
- 9KikeSubstituted forStuaniat 76'minutes
- 10De Pena
- 27DarikwaSubstituted forHenningsat 85'minutes
- 6MeeBooked at 50mins
- 21BoydSubstituted forKightlyat 77'minutes
- 14JonesBooked at 5minsSubstituted forVokesat 71'minutes
- Geoff Eltringham
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Burnley 0.
Attempt saved. Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Cristhian Stuani.
Attempt missed. Joey Barton (Burnley) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sam Vokes (Burnley).
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Albert Adomah replaces Adam Forshaw.
Attempt missed. Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
Attempt missed. Ben Mee (Burnley) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Michael Kightly with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Burnley. Conceded by Tomas Kalas.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Ben Mee.
Attempt blocked. Nsue (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Cristhian Stuani.
Substitution, Burnley. Rouwen Hennings replaces Tendayi Darikwa.
Nsue (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ben Mee (Burnley).
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Tendayi Darikwa.
Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Michael Keane (Burnley).
Foul by Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough).
Michael Duff (Burnley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.