Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz scored as 10-man Middlesbrough beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 for their first Championship victory of 2012.
Tony Mowbray's men had fallen out of the play-off positions after a winless run of six league matches stretching back to Boxing Day, but this win at the Riverside Stadium earned them a vital three points.
Boro largely controlled the tempo of the first half yet they struggled to create any meaningful chances until Guy Moussi deflected Emnes' shot into his own net just before half-time.
In the 47th minute, Jutkiewicz's left-footed effort put Boro in a strong position to claim their first victory over Forest in seven attempts.
The visitors narrowed the deficit thanks to Joel Lynch's header and although their cause was further helped when Kevin Thomson was sent off for two bookable offences, Boro just about held on.
Forest's resilience after going two goals down may give some comfort to manager Steve Cotterill, whose side remain five points adrift of safety.
The last seven matches between the two teams on Teesside had finished honours even and there was not much separating the sides in a quiet opening.
The hosts started to enjoy the lion's share of possession as the half progressed but their failure to create anything meaningful nearly came back to haunt them as Garath McCleary's one-two with Marlon Harewood ended with the former blazing over from just inside the area.
The 24-year-old should have done better but Middlesbrough were nearly caught out again as Marlon Harewood's clever backheel to strike partner Ishmael Miller was only just cut out by Boro goalkeeper Jason Steele.
Emnes was a lively presence for Middlesbrough and he picked up Steele's quick goalkick before cutting in from the left and firing narrowly over from just outside the area.
Boro continued to dominate the tempo for the rest of the half and they were rewarded for their endeavour on the stroke of half-time.
Hines' cross-field ball to the left was insufficiently dealt with by Scott Wootton and that allowed Emnes the chance to cut in and his cross-cum-sot deflected off Moussi and past an unfortunate Lee Camp.
Clearly buoyed by their opener, Jutkiewicz doubled their advantage two minutes after the interval.
The former Coventry striker held off the challenge of two Forest defenders before stroking into the bottom right corner of the net from just outside the area to leave Cotterill's men with a mountain to climb.
Boro seemed determined to make Forest pay and Rhys Williams headed wide from Joe Bennett's corner as the hosts remained firmly in the ascendancy.
Against the run of play however, Forest narrowed the deficit in the 66th minute when Andy Reid's free-kick on the right was flicked in at the front post by fellow substitute Joel Lynch.
From out of nowhere, Middlesbrough were forced on to the back foot and their hopes of holding on took a blow when Thomson's challenge on Adlene Guedioura brought about a second yellow card for the midfielder in the 75th minute.
Guedioura, who was heavily booed by the home fans for the remainder of the clash, could have had the last laugh but his 30-yard rocket cannoned off the bar.