Harewood celebrates giving Newcastle the lead against Boro
Newcastle extended their lead at the top of the Championship to 10 points with a workmanlike victory over north-east rivals Middlesbrough.
Marlon Harewood side-footed Newcastle ahead in controversial circumstances, with Boro players protesting for a push by Shola Ameobi in the build up.
Ameobi was then on hand to double the lead with a powerful header from Danny Guthrie's superb right-wing cross.
Isaiah Osbourne struck the post for Boro but they created little else.
Newcastle have only dropped four points at home all season and with every passing week look more likely to return to the Premier League at the first available opportunity.
Promotion job only half done - Hughton
It makes for a very different reality to the pre-season predictions of doom made by many pundits, who foresaw an imploding United lurching from one disaster to the next with the club up for sale and facing up to life outside the top flight.
Their support has remained strong and an attendance of 49,644 - a record for the division since it was renamed the Championship - watched them ease to another three points.
In contrast, Middlesbrough were seen by many as likely promotion-candidates but have struggled, even despite the appointment of Gordon Strachan.
The Scot has now won just one of eight matches since replacing Gareth Southgate and with the club now 14th - 10 places lower than when he took charge - the former Celtic manager appears to face a mammoth task in turning Boro's season around.
Boro did show commitment, but lacked cohesion and creativity meaning Newcastle never had to hit their top form.
And they enjoyed good fortune when they took the lead with a goal that justifiably enraged the Boro defence.
From a centrally-placed free-kick Guthrie floated the ball into the box where it was met by Ameobi challenging with the keeper and his header back across goal was poked home by Harewood.
In the aftermath of the goal the Middlesbrough players surrounded the referee to protest and with good cause as replays showed that Ameobi had pushed defender Emanuel Pogatetz before supplying the assist.
Having contributed relatively little Boro almost snatched an equaliser on the half hour and once again there was hint of controversy to the incident.
Gary O'Neil's swerving freekick was saved by Steve Harper and from Osbourne's follow-up the ball was deflected on to the post by Steven Taylor's arm and was then smothered by the keeper.
Ten minutes into the second half Harewood should have doubled Newcastle's lead but when Jose Enrique's cross fell to him four yards out with the goal at his mercy the ball got trapped in his feet and Boro were able to scramble clear.
However, within two minutes it was 2-0 as Guthrie's superb cross from the right-hand side was powerfully headed home by Ameobi for his sixth goal in as many matches.
Strachan admits to 'harder challenge' ahead
The second goal ended the game as a contest and while the visitors continued to work hard the only chance they fashioned was wasted by Leroy Lita who blazed over the bar from inside the box.
Late in the game, Newcastle had a penalty appeal turned down when Pogatetz blocked Kevin Nolan's drive with a stray hand, but the protests from the United players was tempered by the knowledge that the three points were already theirs.
Newcastle boss Chris Hughton: "It's the biggest challenge now. We are where we are, we are the team to be shot down and we are the team everybody has to catch.
"We have to ensure as a group of lads, a staff and a club, we continue to do what got us here in the first place.
"That is what we have got to guard against. The games won't get easier."
Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan: "As a manager, you get some horrible periods in your life, and this is one of them.
"As a player, you can try as hard as you want. You need to deal with it."
90:00+2:38 Foul by Rhys Williams on Steven Taylor, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Steve Harper.
90:00+0:33 David Wheater concedes a free kick for a foul on Nile Ranger. Danny Guthrie produces a cross, Nile Ranger has a headed effort
at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
86:55 Jonathan Franks crosses the ball.
85:28 Kevin Nolan has a drilled shot. Blocked by Emanuel Pogatetz. The referee blows for offside. Brad Jones takes the indirect
82:37 Substitution (Newcastle) makes a substitution, with Fabrice Pancrate coming on for Shola Ameobi.
82:37 Substitution Leroy Lita leaves the field to be replaced by Jonathan Franks.
80:50 Unfair challenge on Jonas Gutierrez by Rhys Williams results in a free kick. Shot comes in from Danny Guthrie from the free
kick, save made by Brad Jones.
79:11 Shola Ameobi sends in a cross, Emanuel Pogatetz makes a clearance.
78:52 Sanchez Jose Enrique sends in a cross, clearance made by David Wheater.
77:33 Short corner taken by Danny Guthrie from the left by-line.
76:24 Rhys Williams concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Guthrie. Steve Harper takes the direct free kick.
76:06 The ball is delivered by Tony McMahon, Nicky Butt manages to make a clearance.
74:43 Danny Simpson challenges Mark Yeates unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Gary O'Neil,
clearance by Shola Ameobi.
73:29 Foul by Leroy Lita on Fabricio Coloccini, free kick awarded. Steve Harper takes the direct free kick.
72:15 Jonas Gutierrez has a curled shot. Blocked by Kevin Nolan.
69:44 Effort on goal by Leroy Lita from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
69:06 The assistant referee flags for offside against Nile Ranger. Emanuel Pogatetz takes the free kick.
67:41 Unfair challenge on Shola Ameobi by Emanuel Pogatetz results in a free kick. Nicky Butt takes the direct free kick.
65:09 Substitution Nile Ranger joins the action as a substitute, replacing Marlon Harewood.
65:09 Substitution Mark Yeates comes on in place of Julio Arca.
62:57 The ball is sent over by Tony McMahon, Leroy Lita takes a shot. Steve Harper makes a save.
58:39 The assist for the goal came from Danny Guthrie.
58:39 GOAL - Shola Ameobi:Newcastle 2 - 0 Middlesbrough Shola Ameobi grabs a headed goal from close range. Newcastle 2-0 Middlesbrough.
58:37 The ball is sent over by Danny Guthrie,
57:24 Gary O'Neil sends in a cross, David Wheater produces a header from close range which goes wide of the left-hand post.
57:24 Booking Danny Simpson shown a yellow card.
57:12 Danny Simpson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rhys Williams.
55:03 Leroy Lita has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.
54:42 Sanchez Jose Enrique delivers the ball, Brad Jones makes a save.
51:28 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Danny Guthrie, clearance by David Wheater.
49:50 Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin Nolan on Tony McMahon. Tony McMahon takes the direct free kick.
49:10 Outswinging corner taken by Gary O'Neil, clearance made by Jonas Gutierrez.
48:26 Free kick taken by Brad Jones.
48:26 Substitution Nicky Butt comes on in place of Alan Smith.
48:26 The referee blows for offside against Marlon Harewood.
47:16 The ball is crossed by Jonas Gutierrez, Emanuel Pogatetz manages to make a clearance.
45:01 The second half has started.
45:01 Substitution Dave Kitson goes off and Marcus Bent comes on.
45:00+2:25 The players leave the pitch at half time.
45:00+0:34 Free kick crossed right-footed by Danny Guthrie, Tony McMahon manages to make a clearance.
45:00+0:34 Booking The referee cautions Emanuel Pogatetz for unsporting behaviour.
45:00+0:28 Emanuel Pogatetz concedes a free kick for a foul on Shola Ameobi.
44:54 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonas Gutierrez by Tony McMahon. Sanchez Jose Enrique takes the free kick.
43:44 Emanuel Pogatetz fouled by Shola Ameobi, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Emanuel Pogatetz.
41:09 Sanchez Jose Enrique has an effort at goal from 25 yards. Justin Hoyte gets a block in.
40:35 Kevin Nolan gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Isaiah Osbourne. Gary O'Neil crosses the ball in from the free
kick, Danny Simpson manages to make a clearance.
38:02 Shola Ameobi has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.
36:06 David Wheater concedes a free kick for a foul on Shola Ameobi. Free kick taken by Alan Smith.
34:12 Foul by Shola Ameobi on Emanuel Pogatetz, free kick awarded. David Wheater takes the direct free kick.
31:55 Dave Kitson fouled by Alan Smith, the ref awards a free kick. Shot comes in from Gary O'Neil from the free kick, save made
by Steve Harper. Isaiah Osbourne takes a shot. Blocked by Steven Taylor.
31:28 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Emanuel Pogatetz by Shola Ameobi. Free kick taken by David Wheater.
29:22 Fabricio Coloccini takes the free kick.
29:22 Booking Rhys Williams shown a yellow card.
29:19 Rhys Williams concedes a free kick for a foul on Alan Smith.
28:48 Kevin Nolan has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.
28:15 Free kick awarded for a foul by Shola Ameobi on Emanuel Pogatetz. Emanuel Pogatetz restarts play with the free kick.
23:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Gary O'Neil on Jonas Gutierrez. Strike comes in from Danny Guthrie from the free kick. Alan
Smith produces a left-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the goal.
21:39 The ball is delivered by Sanchez Jose Enrique, clearance by Justin Hoyte.
18:36 Effort from a long way out by Danny Guthrie goes wide right of the goal.
17:11 Dave Kitson is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Steve Harper takes the indirect free kick.
16:31 The ball is crossed by Tony McMahon.
15:12 Assist by Shola Ameobi.
15:12 GOAL - Marlon Harewood:Newcastle 1 - 0 Middlesbrough Marlon Harewood scores a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Newcastle 1-0 Middlesbrough.
14:13 Dave Kitson concedes a free kick for a foul on Alan Smith. Danny Guthrie delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed
from left channel, Brad Jones makes a save.
14:05 Danny Guthrie delivers the ball, Gary O'Neil gets a block in.
12:38 Unfair challenge on Shola Ameobi by David Wheater results in a free kick. Danny Guthrie crosses the ball, Kevin Nolan takes
a shot. David Wheater gets a block in. Corner from the left by-line taken by Danny Guthrie, clearance made by David Wheater.
10:38 Gary O'Neil fouled by Jonas Gutierrez, the ref awards a free kick. Gary O'Neil sends in a cross, Leroy Lita has a headed effort
at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
9:53 Leroy Lita takes a shot. Blocked by Fabricio Coloccini.
6:25 The assistant referee flags for offside against Gary O'Neil. Indirect free kick taken by Steve Harper.
5:43 Emanuel Pogatetz fouled by Shola Ameobi, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by David Wheater.
3:47 Sanchez Jose Enrique gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Leroy Lita. Gary O'Neil crosses the ball in from the
free kick, Shola Ameobi manages to make a clearance.
3:15 The ball is delivered by Sanchez Jose Enrique.
2:55 Foul by Isaiah Osbourne on Jonas Gutierrez, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Alan Smith.
1:32 The assistant referee flags for offside against Shola Ameobi. Brad Jones restarts play with the free kick.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
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