Boro 1-0 Rovers
Rovers suffered a rare Boxing Day defeat as 'Boro striker Lukas Jutkiewicz proved to be the difference once more.
The Middlesbrough front man scored both goals when the two sides met at Ewood Park back in September and he was the thorn in Rovers' side with the only strike at the Riverside.
Rovers had started brightly, Colin Kazim-Richards hitting the post inside sixty seconds, that was followed by an effort from Diogo Rosado, making his first start in Rovers colours, but Jason Steele saved his shot.
Jake Kean made a double save to thwart Emmanuel Ledesma and Scott McDonald before stopping a clear chance for Jutkiewicz one-handed.
The second half saw Rovers denied by Steele once more, first saving to thwart Danny Murphy, then showing last-second reactions to deny Colin Kazim-Richards.
But on 68 minutes the deadlock was broken. It had looked like Rovers had dealt with the threat when Scott McDonald had broken through, but as the ball came back to Jutkiewicz he struck it first time beyond the despairing dive of Jake Kean.
Rovers looked to hit back in the latter stages, Jason Lowe was inches wide with as shot from outside the box, whilst a Ruben Rochina volley was beaten away by the 'Boro 'keeper once more.
The home side saw time out comfortably in the corner to clinch all three points, the result leaves Rovers looking to make amends at Barnsley on Saturday when hopefully it is Rovers who get the goals their play deserved.
For the Boxing Day match boss Henning Berg welcomed back Danny Murphy, the Rovers captain one of three changes from the side that played Blackpool last time out.
There was also a first start for Portuguese attacker Diogo Rosado, whilst Grant Hanley was preferred as partner to Scott Dann in the centre of defence.
Making way were Dickson Etuhu, Simon Vukcevic and Gael Givet who all dropped to the substitutes bench.
Rovers were out of the traps from the very moment the match at the Riverside got underway with the woodwork struck after just 35 seconds.
Joshua King and Martin Olsson made progress down the left flank before the Swede crossed into the box, Colin Kazim-Richards cleverly stuck out his left but was disappointed to see his effort bounce off the right post and away to safety.
Moments Rovers again attacked down the left flank, this time a drilled ball across the area from Olsson just evaded Jordan Rhodes.
Rhodes fired over from distance shortly after before Diogo Rosado also tried his luck, Jason Steele in the 'Boro goal holding onto the attacker's effort with Rhodes threatening to snap up any loose ball.
It had been an opening fifteen minutes in which Rovers had had the better of the play but slowly the home side started to come into the game more. Marvin Emnes shooting wide from distance before full back George Friend took advantage of a misplaced pass to advance and fire wide at the near post.
Just past the midway point of the half a deflection off Kazim-Richards saw the ball break for Josh King between two defenders, but both the Norwegian and Rhodes couldn't get their shots away as the 'Boro defence threw themselves to block.
At the other end Scott McDonald showed good skill to control the ball on the move before lashing just wide.
Both sides then saw great chances to open the scoring thwarted by the respective goalkeeper. First Jason Steele denied Grant Hanley from close-range after a corner. Then it was Jake Kean's turn, firstly pushing away a shot from Emmanuel Ledesma before claiming McDonald's effort on the rebound.
The game continued to be end to end as the first half drew to a close, Rovers threatening when King took advantage of a Danny Murphy pass, his low ball across the area deflecting off defender Andre Bikey but Steele claimed. Kean was again called into action at the other end, acrobatically clawing away Lukas Jutkiewicz's effort from Emmanuel Ledesma's shot.
The second half saw Rovers start on the attack once more, Jason Steele saving well from Danny Murphy on 48 minutes.
Then after Murphy had found Adam Henley on the overlap, the Welshman pulled the ball back for a first-time effort from Colin Kazim-Richards but Steele showed great reactions to save one-handed.
Having ridden that early Rovers storm the home side started to grow in confidence, creating a flow of chances that would ultimately result in the only goal of the game.
Jutkiewicz latched onto a Ledesma pass to fire wide of Kean's post before Marvin Emnes lashed just wide.
On 68 minutes the deadlock was broken and it was the home side who were celebrating. A though ball set McDonald racing clear but as Adam Henley and Grant Hanley got back to close that avenue down it allowed play to be switched to Lukas Jutkiewicz and he fired home past Kean from the edge of the box.
Jutkiewicz had scored both goals at Ewood in their 2-1 win, he would prove to be Rovers' arch-nemesis once more.
Tony Mowbray's side went looking for a second. Jake Kean diverting a McDonald shot just wide of goal, whilst at the other end Jason Lowe wasn't too far away with a first time shot.
As the game entered added time Ruben Rochina had the chance to rescue a point for Rovers. His initial free-kick had struck the wall but on the rebound he struck a lovely right-footed volley that the impressive Jason Steele beat away.
The 'Boro goal had been peppered all afternoon but Rovers were unable to find a way through. They'll have to do better when they face another Steele in goal this Saturday against Barnsley.
BORO: Steele, Hoyte, Bikey (sub Williams 46 mins), Friend, Leadbitter, Emnes (sub Bailey 74 mins), Ledesma, McEachran (sub Smallwood 57 mins), Jutkiewicz, McDonald, Woodgate (c).
Subs not used: Leutwiler (GK), Thomson, Halliday, Miller.
Goals: Jutkiewicz 68 mins.
Booked: Ledesma, Williams.
ROVERS: Kean, Henley, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Rosado (sub Dunn 80 mins), Lowe, Murphy (c), King, Kazim-Richards (sub Rochina 83 mins), Rhodes.
Subs not used: Usai (GK), Givet, Pedersen, Etuhu, Vukcevic.