Middlesbrough edged themselves out of the Sky Bet Championship’s relegation zone but threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Hull at the Riverside Stadium.
First-half goals from Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher put Boro on course to avoid stretching a winless run to 10 matches outside the top-flight for the first time since 1985.
Marvin Johnson was sent off with seven minutes remaining of the first half when he left his studs needlessly high on Eric Lichaj when he slid in to make a block.
And that proved costly as Hull fought back after the restart, with Jarrod Bowen scoring two goals inside four minutes to take a point.
Middlesbrough opened the scoring after seven minutes. Paddy McNair’s run and low cross after Fletcher and Britt Assombalonga had combined resulted in Tavernier being in the right place to control and finish to open the scoring.
The second in the 28th minute was even better. Johnson’s little side-step past his marker in his own half was followed by a delightful pass into the final third to get Boro moving.
Assombalonga’s dummy allowed the ball to run for Fletcher, who then played a perfect one-two with his strike partner before rounding goalkeeper George Long and coolly slotting into the empty net.
That goal had the Riverside purring and Middlesbrough played with so much confidence after that to belie their lowly league position.
But referee Jeremy Simpson’s decision to dismiss Johnson meant the task of staying ahead was made much more difficult.
Hull, whose defence had been opened up time and again, stepped things up and in the closing stages of the first half there were a few signs that Darren Randolph in the home goal would be busier.
That was how it turned out as the Tigers sensed they could claw themselves back from the brink of defeat.
Bowen burst into life. His first goal in the 71st minute was drilled low and hard from 25 yards into Randolph’s bottom-right corner, and then hit his seventh in six matches just four minutes later.
Bowen’s initial header was blocked by Dael Fry but the forward made no mistake from the rebound when he drilled low inside Randolph’s near post.
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