Match ends, Middlesbrough 2, Nottingham Forest 0.
Middlesbrough bolstered their play-off hopes as Aitor Karanka's return to the Riverside Stadium as Nottingham Forest boss ended in defeat.
Forest old boy Daniel Ayala gave Boro an early lead as he turned and planted a fine finish into the top corner.
Ayala then turned provider, flicking on for Stewart Downing to drill a low finish past Costel Pantilimon.
The visitors improved after the break, but failed to score for the fifth successive match.
Former Forest strikers Patrick Bamford and Britt Assombalonga were in the Middlesbrough squad, but it was their former centre-back who did the damage, scoring from the first corner of the match before teeing up Boro's second goal for Downing.
Forest's failure to defend set-pieces was again their undoing, conceding from a corner for the 11th time in the league this season before George Friend's long throw into the box led to the second goal.
Ben Osborn also had to clear off the line from Friend's free header as Boro dominated the first half.
Tony Pulis' side were then happy to absorb the increasing pressure and defend their two-goal lead, with Lee Tomlin's powerful drive, pushed away by Darren Randolph, as close as Karanka's men came.
Middlesbrough are sixth and a point ahead of Millwall, while Forest, who have failed to score in their past 462 minutes of action, are 17th.
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis told BBC Tees:
"I thought first half we were very good and the worst thing was half-time. It took the steam out of us and gave them a chance to clear their heads, and they came out and played some good football.
"I'm very, very pleased. Aitor sets his teams up very, very well - they're very good in possession and they're very strong defensively.
"I thought we created a lot of chances today against a team that's well set-up."
Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka told BBC Nottingham:
"You can't concede two goals from set-pieces. I'm upset and disappointed, but also confident with the future.
"I have my explanation, but I prefer not to say anything. It's for the manager to know why and what's happening in the first half.
"All of them are trying their best but, again, when you have so many shots and have only three on target, and they have seven you can see the difference."
- 5ShottonBooked at 57mins
- 27BesicSubstituted forClaytonat 63'minutes
- 37TraoréSubstituted forAssombalongaat 81'minutes
- 11BamfordSubstituted forCranieat 89'minutes
- 2da Silva
- 3FigueiredoBooked at 34mins
- 20DowellBooked at 13minsSubstituted forMcKayat 59'minutes
- 39VelliosSubstituted forBreretonat 59'minutes
- David Webb
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 2, Nottingham Forest 0.
Attempt saved. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jonny Howson.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Martin Cranie replaces Patrick Bamford.
Attempt missed. Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Britt Assombalonga.
Daniel Fox (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough).
Lee Tomlin (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Britt Assombalonga replaces Adama Traoré.
Attempt saved. Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jack Colback.
Daniel Fox (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough).
Attempt saved. Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
Attempt blocked. George Friend (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Adama Traoré.
Attempt missed. Ben Watson (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Attempt missed. Barrie McKay (Nottingham Forest) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Joe Lolley.
Foul by Daniel Fox (Nottingham Forest).
Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.