Middlesbrough 3-1 Hull: Akpom scores again to earn win
Chuba Akpom became the first player to score in nine consecutive Championship home games by hitting the goal that completed Middlesbrough’s 3-1 win against Hull at the Riverside.
The 27-year-old powered in a brilliant third for Michael Carrick’s side to keep their faint hopes of an automatic promotion place alive.
Boro turned around a half-time deficit delivered by Allahyar Sayyadmanesh’s header by scoring three times inside six second-half minutes through Hayden Hackney, Cameron Archer and Akpom.
Middlesbrough are eight points behind Sheffield United, who have a game in hand, with nine to play for.
But they look in fine shape as they sit on the brink of securing a play-off spot after ending Hull’s five match unbeaten run.
Carrick’s men, who brushed Norwich aside 5-1 on their last outing here on Friday, created the best of the opening chances.
Locally produced midfielder Hackney saw an effort bounce clear after hitting the foot of a post inside five minutes.
And Finnish forward Marcus Forss, who shrugged off a knock to start, forced Hull goalkeeper Karl Darlow into a strong one-handed save low to his right eight minutes later.
Despite failing to test goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the opening exchanges, Hull were full of attacking intent and played some neat and quick football in the final third.
The danger signs were there too for the hosts when Adama Traore, the namesake of Wolves’ ex-Middlesbrough winger, side-footed wide from just inside the area when he ought to have done better.
And after Archer had controlled and powered an effort wide at the other end for Middlesbrough, Liam Rosenior’s side took the lead.
Steffen had just made a strong save down to his right at his near post to deny Regan Slater the opening goal when minutes later Sayyadmanesh broke the deadlock.
The forward timed his run clear of his marker perfectly to meet Traore’s corner with a header that flew straight inside the far post.
It was only Sayyadmanesh’s second strike of the season having gone 13 matches without a goal before finding the net in a 4-4 draw at Sunderland earlier this month.
The introduction of Isaiah Jones and Anfernee Dijksteel sparked new life into Middlesbrough after the interval, even though Hull captain Lewie Coyle was first to go close with a wayward drive.
When Jones was played in down the right by a precise Akpom through pass, the speedy winger delivered a low cross for Hackney to meet first time and power a deflected effort beyond Darlow to level in the 55th minute.
The noise levels at the Riverside increased and less than three minutes later it was 2-1.
Archer, on loan from Aston Villa, controlled Steffen’s route-one kick, outmuscled Sean McLoughlin and slotted in a perfect low finish for his ninth in 14 league starts.
Then it was Akpom’s turn, controlling Jones’ low cross before powering the sweetest of finishes inside Darlow’s right-hand corner for his 29th of a very productive campaign just after the hour.
Akpom would have had another too had Darlow not made another strong save with his feet after another move involving Jones.