Bumper crowd watch Boro reach summit
Promotion-chasing Middlesbrough moved to the top of the npower Championship after defeating Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 in front of their biggest home crowd in over three years.
Justin Hoyte's magical opener was witnessed by 28,229 fans on Teesside, before a controversial equaliser from Gary Madine temporarily tethered Boro back to second place.
But Ishmael Miller and second-half substitute Lukas Jutkiewicz scored the goals to edge their side above Crystal Palace, who must wait until Saturday's game at Peterborough to try and reclaim top spot.
It was a seventh win in eight outings for Tony Mowbray's ominous outfit, with struggling Wednesday losing for the fifth time on the road since last season's promotion.
In a bid to put vocal support behind such a fine run of form, ticket prices were slashed in half ahead of the game, attracting the largest crowd at the Riverside since May 2009 - Boro's final month in the Premier League.
The hosts poured forward from the first whistle, spurred on by an unusually raucous crowd, but it was visiting defender Miguel Llera who provided an early scare, his free shot hooked away from the six-yard box following a corner.
Jay Bothroyd then drove high and wide, allowing Boro to regroup and fashion the classiest of opening goals.
With 13 minutes played, Emmanuel Ledesma won possession on the halfway line, splitting the Owls defence with a fine through-ball to meet Hoyte, who stepped inside to curl the ball into the top of the net with his laces.
Wednesday stopper Chris Kirkland did get a touch to a fierce free-kick from Grant Leadbitter after the restart but it was Boro keeper Jason Steele who made the finer save, getting down quickly to repel a half-volley from Bothroyd.
Michail Antonio clipped the ball through Steele's legs moments later, but the ball bobbled wide as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
The bumper crowd held their breath as Josh McEachran bobbed and weaved, unfeasibly beating man after man through the box only for Kirkland to get a block in as the young midfielder let fly.
Leadbitter's absent-minded drive from distance was less inspiring, and Wednesday ought to have equalised before the break as Llera scooped a pinpoint corner across Steele's goal and harmlessly wide.
That was a let off, but Boro were punished for not taking their visitors seriously enough three minutes after the break.
There was a hint of offside as Bothroyd picked out Antonio in the box, the ex-Reading man chesting the ball down for Madine to tuck it away.
Mowbray remonstrated with the fourth official but the goal was given. Even Madine looked across to the linesman for confirmation before celebrating.
There was a period of quiet reflection for Boro, who seemed stunned into submission, but there was soon another almighty roar when from the north stand when Miller made it 2-1.
Scott McDonald collected Ledesma's hopeful pass into the box and dutifully sent the ball bobbling towards the far corner, only for Miller to steal in and tuck it safely over the line.
Ledesma nearly doubled the lead as he jinked inside to test a stranded Kirkland but Llera was well-placed to make the crucial block.
Having failed to finish sides off at home over recent months, Boro needed that third goal to make the points safe, and they found it through substitute Jutkiewicz.
The Teessiders won a regulation corner in the 76th minute, Leadbitter guiding the ball to the near post and onto the Polish striker's forehead for a two-goal lead.
Madine threatened to set up a tense finale with his swerving effort in the final phases, but Steele was more than equal to the task and Boro had earned their sixth home victory of the season.