OLIVER NORWOOD struck a penalty deep into stoppage-time to break Teesside hearts and inflict a second home defeat in the league on Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis since taking over.

The Northern Ireland midfielder picked himself up after being tripped by Grant Leadbitter in the fifth minute of added time to hit the winner after County Durham referee Geoff Eltringham pointed to the spot.

It meant Middlesbrough, who had hit the bar seconds earlier through Britt Assombalonga, were unable to climb into the top six – even if they felt aggrieved because they had their own shouts for a penalty waved away earlier in the second half.

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Despite creating a few clear cut chances to claim three points, Boro couldn’t find the finish to take the lead and that left the door open for the Cottagers to stun the Riverside.

Pulis surprisingly named leading scorer Britt Assombalonga on the bench in favour of starting with Rudy Gestede. It meant the same team was sent out that earned victory over Sunderland in the FA Cup.

Gestede was the man who had the best two chances of the opening half. He had worked hard in the final third, chasing down defenders and being a nuisance, but his finishing was disappointing.

He had a glorious chance in the fifth minute to deliver the breakthrough. When he was fed the ball in behind the Fulham defence, he only had the keeper Marcus Bettinelli to beat. Rather than show composure, he stumbled and the chance was wasted.

After that Middlesbrough, with Adama Traore again lighting up the play with his running before being let down by his final ball, were the stronger but were unable to test Bettinelli. On the one occasion he was he saved a header from Gestede, who had strayed offside anyway.

Then, with minutes of the first half remaining, he was played in behind the defence for a second time. This time it was more central, with Bettinelli running straight for him. When they goalkeeper went to ground, the Benin striker’s chip beat the keeper but trickled wide.

The only occasion Fulham threatened Darren Randolph at the opposite end was moments before that, when Ryan Sessegnon’s run to the byline and excellent cross was headed into the Irishman’s hands by Aboubakar Kamara.

Pulis could have changed something at the break but decided against it.

Having only seen Stewart Downing fire an effort from distance over and Tomas Kalas get away with a Boro penalty appear for a shove on Martin Braithwaite, though, he did act on the hour by throwing on Assombalonga just after the hour.

Moments after that Braithwaite hit the side netting at one end after a fine run into the box before Tomas Kalas did the same at the other end when Middlesbrough fell asleep at a corner.

Fulham did cause a few more problems in the closing stages and, after Assombalonga had struck the bar at one end, Fulham were given the chance to seal the points late on at the death.

Norwood picked himself up after he was tripped by Leadbitter and then sent Randolph the wrong way to seal the points.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter, Howson, Traore (Johnson 82), Braithwaite (Clayton 82), Downing, Gestede (Assombalonga 63). Subs not used: Konstantopoulos (gk), Christie, Bamford, Fletcher.

FULHAM (4-3-2-1): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Ream, Odoi, R Sessegnon; McDonald, Johansen, Norwood; Ojo (Kalas 52), Piazon (Kebano 85), Kamara (Fonte 58). Subs not used: Button (gk), Cairney, Edun, S Sessegnon.