Grant Leadbitter’s late penalty stole Middlesbrough a fortunate 1-0 win over QPR at the Riverside.
The game looked to be heading for a goalless draw until Leroy Fer’s late handball in added time gave the referee no choice but to award the hosts a penalty.
Leadbitter fired home from the spot to hand Aitor Karanka’s side their tenth win of the season, beating a Rangers side without a recognised striker.
Hosts Middlesbrough were looking to return to winning ways after losing to Hull last time out, before the international break.
Karanka’s men went into the clash sitting fourth in the league, playing a 13th-placed QPR side who were without a win in their last three.
They had to travel to Teesside without interim manager Neil Warnock, who was absent due to "personal reasons", the club revealed earlier on Friday afternoon.
Kevin Blackwell, who was brought in to assist Warnock, took charge of the Hoops at the Riverside.
It was reported this week that Warnock expects to be in charge of the Loftus Road club for two further games.
A slow start to the game saw few chances mustered in the opening ten minutes.
David Nugent looked to be through on goal shortly after that period, before Rangers captain Nedum Onuoha made a last-ditch challenge to prevent the former Leicester forward from advancing.
Lively Boro wideman Albert Adomah looked to create an opening after 20 minutes, when he made a dangerous run into the right-hand side of the box. He squared the ball to Nugent, who did not get clean contact on the ball but his shot still beat goalkeeper Green, hitting the inside of the post as the ball trickled along the goal line before the former England stopper gathered.
Brazilian midfielder Sandro forced Boro shot stopper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos into making a good save after his long-range strike, before Boro’s Diego Fabbrini, on loan fromWatford, flashed a shot wide at the other end.
QPR made a positive start to the second period, with Yun Suk-Young attacking dangerously down the left before pulling it back for Matt Phillips, playing up front in Charlie Austin’s absence. He could not get the ball out of his feet, despite being just yards from goal, and danger was averted.
Konstantopoulos was on hand to stop Fer’s stinging shot before getting a hand to Alejandro Faurlin’s effort.
Stewart Downing shot wide for the hosts before Grant Hall headed past the post at the other end, as a 0-0 score-line looked inevitable.
Karanka pushed for a late winner by putting on Cristhian Stuani and Kike alongside existing attackers Downing and Nugent, but QPR continued to look comfortable with a high line before Fer was dismissed in stoppage time.
An overhead kick by Kike looked destined for the back of the net, although Green was sprawling, and the Dutch midfielder needlessly punched the ball clear on the goal line and the referee had to award a spot-kick.
With 92 minutes on the clock, Leadbitter coolly converted the penalty past Green to snatch Boro all three points.
Ahead of the rest of the Championship's games this weekend, the win puts Boro up to third, a point ahead of Burnley who slipped to fourth.
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