ADAMA TRAORE found the net for only the second game of his Middlesbrough career to help Tony Pulis finally celebrate a Championship win at the Riverside – and he did it twice.

After Boro’s three games without scoring on home soil in the league under him, Pulis got to see the exciting Traore end that run by hitting the net with a minute remaining of the opening half.

The Spaniard, who also scored at QPR last month, was the most dangerous player on the pitch again and his goal led to an important three points in the battle to stay in the mix for a play-off spot.

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Traore added his second inside four minutes of the restart and that should have effectively ended the game as a contest, although Middlesbrough did allow Reading back in.

Chris Martin, signed from Derby before the deadline day, pulled one back before Britt Assombalonga missed a late penalty after Traore had won that too.

Middlesbrough held on to close the gap to the top six to four points because of Bristol City’s dramatic draw with Sunderland, but at least Pulis has a platform to build on now after being able to celebrate a first Championship win at the Riverside in 2017.

The pressure on Middlesbrough to deliver had increased before a ball had been kicked by Sheffield United’s victory over Leeds, increasing the gap to seventh to four points.

Reading had only won once from their previous ten games in the league so this was a golden opportunity to put some smiles on the faces of fans at thee Riverside.

Pulis brought Jonny Howson in for Adam Clayton, while he kept faith with Rudy Gestede after his red card at Norwich was overturned at the start of the week.

Gestede flicked an early header over the bar from Ryan Shotton’s early long throw but otherwise chances were few and far between in the opening period.

Stewart Downing volleyed a Traore cross wide after he weas picked out at the back post midway through the half, while Reading offered nothing in the final third.

And Reading were made to pay for their poor opening when Traore skipped around Leandro Bacuna and fired a powerful low shot that Mannone could only help in.

Stam’s half-time teamtalk saw striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson head into the hands of goalkeeper Darren Randolph, but the visitors’ improvement was short-lived.

Traore grabbed his second soon after. The former Barcelona man charged at the Reading defence before picking out the far corner with a stunning right-foot drive.

Middlesbrough should have wrapped things up from there. Instead, though, they allowed Reading back into it when Martin picked out the bottom corner when he was left in space on the edge of the area.

That made for a nervy final ten minutes, even more so when Assombalonga completely missed the target with a penalty with five minutes remaining. Middlesbrough: (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Shotton, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Leadbitter, Howson; Traore, Downing (Cranie 90), Bamford (Bamford 66); Gestede. Subs (not used): Konstantopoulos (gk), Fry, Besic, Harrison, Assombalonga.

Reading: (4-2-3-1): Mannone, Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Bacuna, Kelly (Clement 63), van den Berg, McCleary (Kermorgant 74), Edwards, Aluko, Bodvarsson (Martin 63). Subs (not used): Jaakkola (gk), Blackett, Richards, Smith.