Bamford hat-trick takes Boro into play-off places

London (AFP) – Patrick Bamford scored a hat-trick as Middlesbrough beat Leeds 3-0 in the English Championship on Friday.

Bamford put the hosts in front in the 31st minute and five minutes later he made it 2-0. His third goal put the result beyond doubt with just over 20 minutes left.

Victory moved Middlesbrough up into sixth place in English football’s second-tier and the final play-off place.

While a spot among the top two who will gain automatic promotion to the lucrative Premier League at the end of the season looks out of reach, Boro could go up up as the third promoted club if they come through a series of play-off matches involving the next four teams.

Defeat left fallen giants Leeds in 11th place, six points off the play-offs.

Groundstaff had worked tirelessly to clear the Riverside of snow following the icy weather that had gripped much of Europe this week and Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis thanked them by telling Sky Sports: “It’s a very good team performance but it was also a massive community performance.

“The people who have worked on this ground are the heroes. The people who were here until 7 o’clock (1900 GMT) yesterday (Thursday) night were brilliant. A great thanks to the people who got this game on tonight.”

Bamford added: “It’s a big moment for me but it’s about the result for the team.”

He then praised Adama Traore’s contribution to Friday’s win by saying: “He was unplayable. He’s so fast and strong and he’s getting better and better.”

It was a point underlined by veteran manager Pulis, who said: “Traore is the quickest player I’ve ever seen off the mark. When he uses the ball well he’s unstoppable.”

Leeds coach Paul Heckingbottom accepted his side had been well-beaten.

“It was disappointing because we were second-best,” he said. “I thought Boro were good — they were at it and really up for the game and we didn’t cope with them, which is disappointing.”

Boro’s dominance was rewarded when, after a cross from Stewart Downing, Bamford got in front of Pontus Jansson to volley home into the bottom-right corner for his third goal in two games following a double in the Wear-Tees derby.

Traore was only playing in this match after his red card against Sunderland was rescinded on appeal and he then showed why Boro rate him so highly by setting up Bamford’s second goal.

The winger made a break from some 50 yards inside his won half, beating three Leeds defenders on his way, before a cross found Bamford, whose low shot proved too hot for Leeds goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald to handle 

Jansson missed a chance to pull a goal back for Leeds early in the second half when, from a corner, he rose unmarked only to head over from eight yards out.

It was a miss made all the more costly when Bamford made it 3-0 after Jansson’s block from a Traore shot fell kindly into his path inside the box.

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