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Middlesbrough 2 Cardiff City 1
KIERON DYER and Sammy Ameobi grabbed first goals in a Middlesbrough shirt to help keep play-off hopes alive against the Championship leaders.
After Dyer had pounced to find the net for the first time since his Newcastle days in May 2007, Ameobi marked his first appearance since joining on loan from St James' Park with a brilliant second.
Aron Gunnarsson did make things interesting by heading Cardiff City back in it with 22 minutes remaining but Middlesbrough were in no mood to lose concede an equaliser.
That means Middlesbrough are still a point from the top six after Brighton comfortably beat Huddersfield 4-1 at the Amex. Cardiff, meanwhile, have had their lead at the top closed to five points to Hull.
Middlesbrough only had to wait until the 13th minute for the lead. Nicky Bailey's strong challenge dropped to Scott McDonald and the Aussie frontman turned and ran at the defence before chipping in to the path of Ishmael Miller.
Miller got to the byline before crossing for Dyer to simply side-foot over the line from inside six yards.
The superb second arrived less than four minutes later. Ameobi picked up the ball in the penalty area. He danced his way through two two black shirts before striking powerfully in to the middle of Marshall's net.
Jason Steele had to make a couple of good, solid stops, but when Bellamy floated over a corner in the 68th minute Gunnarsson glanced a header beyond Steele to make for an exciting finish.
Fraizer Campbell, who had scored five in his last five, went close with a later header, but Middlesbrough held on to stay in the promotion hunt.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Steele; Bailey, McManus, Hines, Friend; Ameobi (Ledesma 74), McEachran, Leadbitter, Dyer (Emnes 74); Miller, McDonald. Subs: Williams, Halliday, Main, Leutwiler (gk), Smallwood.
Cardiff (4-4-2): Marshall, McNaughton (Nugent 46), Turner, Connolly, Taylor; Smith, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Conway; Campbell, Bellamy (noone 74). Subs: Lewis (gk), Cowie, Kim, Mason.