George Saville’s goal was the Northern Ireland midfielder’s first for Middlesbrough in eight months

A first-minute goal was enough for Middlesbrough to put a four-point gap between themselves and the Championship relegation places as they beat Charlton at the Riverside.

Boro needed just 52 seconds to score as George Saville pounced after Britt Assombalonga’s shot had taken a deflection and Ashley Fletcher kept the ball alive.

The Addicks, who have won just twice in 14 games since mid-September, created no chances of note in a performance that will worry boss Lee Bowyer.

And Middlesbrough could have increased their lead as Marcus Tavernier, Hayden Coulson and Assombalonga all missed good opportunities to score.

The only positive for Charlton, who stay in 17th place, was that five-goal striker Lyle Taylor returned after more than three months out with injury as a half-time substitute.

Middlesbrough put their 4-0 hammering at high-flying Leeds behind them as they dominated the opening period, with teenage full-back Djed Spence impressing on his debut,

Saville almost doubled the lead after eight minutes, and Hayden Coulson came close to scoring after a defensive blunder.

It was more of the same after the break as Tavernier volleyed over from four yards after an hour and Dillon Phillips saved well as Fletcher went close late on for Boro, who moved up to 19th place.

Conor Gallagher had Charlton’s best effort with 20 minutes to go, but having turned his man well and run into the penalty area, he curled an effort wide.

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