Match ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Middlesbrough 2.
Neil Warnock masterminded a sixth successive Championship victory over Nottingham Forest as former Reds striker Britt Assombalonga set Middlesbrough on their way to three points at the City Ground.
Assombalonga put Boro ahead from close range, finding the net with a low, first-time finish from Jonny Howson's pass.
The visitors doubled their lead on the counter-attack soon after the break when George Saville calmly slipped the ball past keeper Brice Samba as he raced through one-on-one.
Forest finally rallied late on, scoring with their first attempt on target when Loic Mbe Soh headed in his first senior goal from Joe Lolley's delightful cross.
But they could not find an equaliser and a miserable evening was completed by Yuri Ribeiro's 97th-minute red card after appearing to stamp on Saville as Boro, who move up to seventh in the Championship, tried to waste time in the corner.
Forest were unbeaten in six league games and had been steadily improving under Chris Hughton, who replaced Sabri Lamouchi in October after a run of six defeats from seven.
But they were second best by a considerable margin against Warnock's Boro, who are now just three points off the play-off places with a game in hand on sixth-placed Bournemouth, despite chastening recent defeats against lowly Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham.
Middlesbrough settled impressively following Assombalonga's tidy finish and he almost made it two when his header came hit the post and rebounded off keeper Brice Samba and over the bar.
Forest brought on Lyle Taylor at the break but it was 2-0 to the visitors within five minutes when Assombalonga held the ball up and Marcus Tavernier played a lovely pass through for Northern Ireland midfielder Saville to score.
Marc Bola and Sam Morsy both went close to extending the lead, but Boro did not need the security of a third goal despite the late home response which briefly threatened to salvage a point for a Forest side, who drop to 20th in the table.
Forest manager Chris Hughton:
"It was a disappointing night, particularly on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run [in all competitions] and a really good performance [against Millwall].
"We never really got going. We needed to impose ourselves more on them and we were not able to do that. If you cannot do that, you need to be resolute and solid at the back.
"We conceded two really poor goals. With the form we have been in and certainly the defensive form we have been in, it was not like us.
"My gut feeling is I have no complaints with the sending off. With where we are, we have to keep our discipline."
Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock:
"When Britt's like that, he's as good as anything. I just wish he'd do that every week.
"We were at it from the first minute, I knew we'd be all right. We never took our foot off the pedal. That's lovely to see.
"We were sloppy on Saturday, but the only disappointment was not scoring more goals. Apart from their goal, I can't think of a save our keeper had to make. I'd give Jonny Howson 11 out of 10 for his performance."
- 5RibeiroBooked at 90mins
- 22YatesSubstituted forMbe Sohat 82'minutes
- 21SowBooked at 33minsSubstituted forTaylorat 45'minutesBooked at 67mins
- 11AmeobiSubstituted forLolleyat 78'minutes
- 18Ribeiro Dias
- 17MightenSubstituted forKnockaertat 56'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 6Mbe Soh
- 5MorsyBooked at 13mins
- 16HowsonBooked at 84mins
- 7TavernierSubstituted forSpenceat 90+5'minutes
- 18WatmoreSubstituted forJohnsonat 65'minutes
- Andy Woolmer
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Nottingham Forest 1, Middlesbrough 2.
Yuri Ribeiro (Nottingham Forest) is shown the red card.
Foul by Yuri Ribeiro (Nottingham Forest).
George Saville (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Anthony Knockaert (Nottingham Forest) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.
Hand ball by Anthony Knockaert (Nottingham Forest).
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Djed Spence replaces Marcus Tavernier.
Goal! Nottingham Forest 1, Middlesbrough 2. Loïc Mbe Soh (Nottingham Forest) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Joe Lolley with a cross.
Foul by Anthony Knockaert (Nottingham Forest).
Marc Bola (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest).
Marvin Johnson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Anfernee Dijksteel (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Yuri Ribeiro.
Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough).
Substitution, Nottingham Forest. Loïc Mbe Soh replaces Ryan Yates because of an injury.
Attempt missed. Marvin Johnson (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.