Michael Carrick’s excellent Middlesbrough dominated Blackpool to take a 3-0 win at Bloomfield Road and jump four places to 16th in the Sky Bet Championship table.
The rejuvenated Boro continued after Isaiah Jones’ attack in the 15th minute and never relinquished control.
Faster, sharper and more aggressive than Blackpool, Carrick’s team scored the second goal that deserved their superiority when Marcus Forss crashed into a penalty three minutes after the break.
The excellent Chuba Akpom converted Ryan Giles’ low cross in the 65th minute for his fourth goal in four games to put an end to any lingering doubts about the outcome.
Boro, who was winless in their first six away games this season, has now won three out of four on the road following this emphatic success.
Carrick, meanwhile, is promptly making a mark on his organized and focused team, and has racked up seven points from four games since his appointment last month.
Jones got a crushing shot blocked by James Husband 14 minutes into the game – but the right winger didn’t have to wait long to hit the target.
Akpom, undeterred by a tough early challenge from husband, transferred a pass from wide on the right to the back post.
Running out of room at the byline, Forss had the presence of mind to head the ball back for Jones to ram his finish into Chris Maxwell’s right post.
Blackpool barely threatened and the hosts’ first attempt at goal in the 45th minute – Zack Steffen saved comfortably from Theo Corbeanu – was greeted with ironic cheers from the large and loud traveling support.
Indeed, the Boro fans’ only concern at this point was their team’s failure to increase Jones’ goal.
Akpom was unquestionably allowed to travel from the halfway point to shoot straight at Maxwell from 18 yards, before the busy Maxwell ducked to the right to beat a Giles free kick.
Then, six minutes before half-time, Darragh Lenihan looked wide from a corner that was struck by Giles’ reliable left boot.
Middlesbrough were finally able to extend their lead shortly after the restart. Forss pounced on Marvin Ekpiteta’s casual touch to get into the penalty area and push the ball past Maxwell, whose brash challenge turned the striker on his head.
Forss resolutely defeated the keeper to his right from the spot.
Two quickly turned into three, as Giles sped to the left and squared off Akpom, who finished clinically for his eighth goal this season.
Maxwell came down sharply to deny Jones a second goal, while Blackpool forward Jerry Yates sent a late consolation attempt off goal.
The Boro fans, who serenaded their new head coach for much of the evening, sang songs about promotion. The idea isn’t as ridiculous as it might have been before Carrick’s arrival.