Andraz Sporar scored from the penalty spot as Middlesbrough moved closer to the Championship play-off places with victory over second-placed Bournemouth, who missed the chance to go top.
The Slovenian striker calmly slotted home the only goal of the game early in the second half after Isaiah Jones was brought down by Jaidon Anthony.
Bournemouth created plenty of chances to get something out of the match but Anthony, Dominic Solanke and Ryan Christie were all guilty of wasting clear opportunities.
The Cherries would have gone above Fulham with victory at the Riverside, with the leaders not playing until Monday, but Scott Parker’s side have stumbled since the end of October.
They are now without a win in six games and have only won one of their past eight, allowing chasing West Brom and Blackburn to close the gap.
Middlesbrough, meanwhile, are up to eighth in the table after a third win in four games, only two points off a play-off spot, underlining their improvement under Chris Wilder.
Bournemouth’s fans were faced with a 636-mile round trip for the lunchtime kick-off, with supporters’ coaches having left the Vitality Stadium at 03:00 GMT.
And they watched their side pushed back early on as Cherries keeper Mark Travers was forced into a smart early save to keep out Matt Crooks’ shot after a flowing move.
Christie curled a low shot just wide for Bournemouth midway through the opening period, while Anthony dragged a low shot the wrong side of the post.
Solanke then headed Christie’s cross wide as the visitors appeared on top as half-time approached, although Travers was called into action again to keep out Anfernee Dijksteel’s scuffed shot which was heading in after taking a deflection off Lloyd Kelly.
Christie missed a glorious chance in first-half stoppage time when he met Anthony’s low cross on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot bounced into the ground and over the bar.
Sporar was denied by Travers early in the second half, but was on target shortly afterwards, firing home his fourth league goal of the season from the spot.
Joe Lumley pushed away Junior Stanislas’ long-range free-kick as Bournemouth tried to rally, but the Cherries rarely looked like forcing an equaliser.
Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder told BBC Radio Tees:
“We’ve got some big players and they should expect to play well against a really good side.
“I thought the press was really good, I thought the shape out of possession was really good, we stepped into pockets, the lines were good between the three departments of the team – there wasn’t a lot of space for them to play.
“The key now is to back that (win) up and keep backing it up.
“I’m delighted for Andraz. He showed great composure and bottle to stick that away. He’s a good player. I want good players at the club, and want to bring good players into the club in January, and we want to keep it rolling forward.”
Bournemouth boss Scott Parker told BBC Radio Solent:
“Second half we were poor, second half we didn’t deserve anything from the game.
“First half, I thought, was very good, we nullified them really and we had three massive chances. On another day those chances go in and then obviously the game’s a bit different.
“But the second half was not acceptable. We never gave ourselves a chance and then they score, which gives them impetus and a platform.
“The longer the game goes on, you see a bit more of a desperate team – an honest team, of course – but the level of what we were, to where we are currently, is a little bit off. We’re going through a bit of a blip and we need to turn that around quickly.”
- 17McNairBooked at 66mins
- 35JonesBooked at 82minsSubstituted forBambaat 90+1′minutes
- 3TaylorBooked at 77mins
- 11SporarSubstituted forIkpeazuat 90+4′minutes
- 18WatmoreSubstituted forHernándezat 74′minutesBooked at 86mins
- 24CahillBooked at 43mins
- 4L CookSubstituted forBradyat 78′minutes
- 10ChristieSubstituted forLoweat 61′minutes
- 29BillingBooked at 57mins
- 32AnthonySubstituted forStanislasat 61′minutes
- 3S Cook
- Chris Kavanagh
Match ends, Middlesbrough 1, Bournemouth 0.
Second Half ends, Middlesbrough 1, Bournemouth 0.
Foul by Lloyd Kelly (Bournemouth).
Uche Ikpeazu (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt blocked. Uche Ikpeazu (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonny Howson.
Attempt saved. Anfernee Dijksteel (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Uche Ikpeazu.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Uche Ikpeazu replaces Andraz Sporar.
Offside, Middlesbrough. Neil Taylor tries a through ball, but Onel Hernández is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Andraz Sporar (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Marcus Tavernier.
Attempt missed. Marcus Tavernier (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Onel Hernández with a cross.
Attempt missed. Onel Hernández (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Sol Bamba replaces Isaiah Jones.
Foul by Jamal Lowe (Bournemouth).
Jonny Howson (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Jamal Lowe (Bournemouth) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Robbie Brady with a through ball.
Onel Hernández (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Offside, Middlesbrough. Andraz Sporar tries a through ball, but Onel Hernández is caught offside.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Jack Stacey.
Attempt blocked. Isaiah Jones (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.