Middlesbrough have moved to within six points of safety and pushed North-East rivals Sunderland closer to the Premier League drop, courtesy of a 1-0 victory in this evening's meeting at the Riverside Stadium.
The only goal of the game came eight minutes in through a Marten de Roon strike, giving the Smoggies their first league victory of 2017 - the final side in Europe's five major leagues to get off the mark.
Boro now have the slimmest of hopes of avoiding the drop heading into a tough final run of four games, beginning with the visit of Manchester City at the weekend, while Sunderland can surely prepare for life in the second tier - 12 points the margin to make up with just one game in hand left to play.
The hosts found a way through from their first attempt of the match, after Jermaine Defoe had earlier blasted right at Brad Guzan at the other end, as De Roon slipped Adam Clayton's fine ball past Jordan Pickford.
Boro are the lowest home scorers in the top flight, netting just 13 times on Teesside prior to this evening, but they were soon in search of a second and nearly found it as Stewart Downing forced another save out of Pickford.
There was a strong applause around the Riverside in the 44th minute for former Boro defender Ugo Ehiogu, who passed away last week after suffering a cardiac arrest on duty with Tottenham Hotspur's Under-23s side.
On the field, Didier N'Dong came close to getting his side level prior to the break, being denied by a Guzan stop from distance, and the American also had to be alert to palm away a Wahbi Khazri free kick.
That was as close as the Black Cats came to drawing level, however, failing to create any other clear-cut openings and falling to a likely fatal defeat that leaves them nine without a win and on the brink of relegation.