Middlesbrough 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Middlesbrough's Gaston Ramirez celebrates his goal against Wolves

Gaston Ramirez has scored three goals in six games since joining Middlesbrough on loan from Southampton

Gaston Ramirez scored twice to send Middlesbrough top of the Championship with victory over Wolves.

Ramirez first punished Wolves for failing to clear his initial free-kick, moving into the box unmarked to nod home from Adam Clayton’s cross.

Visiting keeper Carl Ikeme kept Jordan Rhodes out before Ramirez added a fine second with a curled finish after swapping passes with George Friend.

Wolves rarely threatened before Joe Mason’s header went in off Ben Gibson.

Boro, who missed the chance to go top of the table on Tuesday with defeat by Blackburn Rovers, can be overtaken at the summit on Saturday if Burnley can beat local rivals Rovers themselves.

Defeat is Wolves’ fourth in five games, with Kenny Jackett’s side taking just two points from 15 away from home dating back to 1 January.

Albert Adomah twice threatened for Boro early on, before on-loan Southampton midfielder Ramirez met Clayton’s cross to open the scoring on 23 minutes.

Uruguayan Ramirez was a constant menace and nearly added a quick second, while Wolves laboured to make any sort of impression on Aitor Karanka’s men in response.

Ikeme made a superb save to see Rhodes’ effort over the bar immediately after the break, and even though the visitors were more industrious through Nathan Byrne and Bjorn Sigurdarson, their first shot on target came after Ramirez had made it 2-0.

Wolves, however, did manage to end their three-game goalless run on the road, with Mason’s header deflected beyond the diving Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos a minute from time.

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka:

“We needed to win again. We had chances and two goals. Ramirez is getting better every game. I knew he was a good player at Southampton and from the Premier League. After January we are a better team than we were last season: one year more experience, more quality, better players.

“But always I think promotion is decided in the last few games. We only think of winning our games, not about promotion and where we are in the table.

“We won’t win it easy; there are big games ahead. Hull, Burnley, Brighton, Derby are our rivals. We have eight games in a month so we have to stay motivated and ready to play.”

Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett:

“The top 10 of the Championship is a very high standard. The likes of Middlesbrough have done very well to secure a high number of players here, very good quality players. When you look through the squad, you think who can play, and they have two players in every position of a similar ability.

“I felt Albert Adomah and George Friend down Boro’s left and our right-hand side were dominant. It opened the hole for Ramirez to come off the front. We never really got hold of that triangle.

“We finished quite strongly, got a goal back, but in the last few minutes we couldn’t really get a run at a very strong defence.

“I was disappointed we weren’t able to kick on from the weekend, but it is a tall order coming here and winning.”

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