Manchester City eased their relegation fears and the pressure on boss Stuart Pearce with victory at Middlesbrough.
Man City's Michael Ball wins a challenge with Boro's Dong Gook Lee
Sylvain Distin shot high past Mark Schwarzer from close range following Joey Barton's 61st minute corner.
And Emile Mpenza got off the mark for City by scoring off an upright 13 minutes later to seal their first Premiership win since New Year's Day.
City lost England youngster Micah Richards with a first-half ankle injury, but were rarely troubled.
Boro boss Gareth Southgate rested defender Jonathan Woodgate and in-form striker Mark Viduka, clearly with Monday's FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United in mind.
City had an early change when Barton shot just wide, before Middlesbrough defender Emanuel Pogatetz was stretchered off with an ankle injury.
There was a glaring lack of quality in the opening half, with only the odd half chance piercing the gloom.
Jason Euell should have done better when he stole in on Stewart Downing's cross, but could only deliver a tame header.
Mpenza then fired tamely into the side-netting before there was an injury worry for City, and England coach Steve McClaren, when Richards limped off with an ankle injury after 21 minutes.
City keeper Andreas Isaksson was forced into a rare moment of action to save from Downing's low drive.
Mpenza looked City's best bet for a goal, but he wasted two opportunities to open his account, heading Michael Ball's cross wide and then seeing a shot saved by Mark Schwarzer.
City broke the deadlock after 61 minutes when Middlesbrough failed to clear Barton's corner, and when Mpenza headed on, Distin turned and shot high past Schwarzer.
Boss Pearce, whose future has been shrouded in uncertainty, remained stone-faced on the touchline, hiding his emotions.
Boro counterpart Southgate sent on Viduka for the disappointing Euell, but it was City who pressed forward and added a second with 16 minutes left.
Barton robbed Lee Cattermole in midfield and slipped the ball through for Mpenza to score off the upright.
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate:
"I have got to take responsibility because I made a couple of changes and if that sent the wrong message to people, then that is my responsibility.
"We inevitably had more than an eye on Monday and when you have got a game as big as that coming up, it is very hard for a player to put that out of his mind.
"We looked like a team that was trying to win it without over-extending ourselves and unfortunately, we are not good enough to do that."
Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce:
"The results have not been good enough over the course of the season for me and this football club.
"We know that, we are aware of that and it is important for us to get some victories between now and the end of the season.
"The players have had a really tough week both physically and emotionally but we deserved to win.
"We probably deserved something from the Chelsea game on Wednesday as well but we did not get it. But looking at the game, it only looked like one side was going to win it."
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Parnaby, Xavier, Pogatetz (Davies 9), Taylor, Cattermole, Boateng, Euell (Viduka 64), Downing, Lee (Morrison 46), Yakubu.
Subs Not Used: Jones, Rochemback.
Man City: Isaksson, Richards (Samaras 22), Dunne, Distin, Jihai, Barton, Hamann, Johnson, Ball, Vassell (Beasley 84), Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dabo, Corradi.
Booked: Barton, Mpenza.
Goals: Distin 61, Mpenza 74.
Ref: K Stroud (Hampshire).