Derby County produced a stunning away performance to record their first away win against Middlesbrough for nearly 18 years, as Matej Vydra’s hat-trick led the Rams to a dominant 3-0 victory.
Vydra ran riot at the Riverside Stadium to extend Derby’s unbeaten run on the road to six games and reach double figures in the Sky Bet Championship this season after just 14 appearances.
The home side ended with 10 men after Daniel Ayala was dismissed for two bookable offences.
Two Boro men in particular drew a reaction from the Rams’ away following, and they almost combined to give the home side the lead with 12 minutes gone.
Cyrus Christie’s long throw was headed towards goal by Britt Assombalonga, but Scott Carson produced an incredible reaction save from close range to thwart the former Nottingham Forest striker.
Derby took advantage just a minute later through the in-form Vydra, who cut inside on his left foot and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net to put Gary Rowett’s side in-front.
Tom Lawrence was looking to make it two-in-two after opening his Derby account in midweek, and he carved an opportunity after half an hour when he drove in-field from the left, but Darren Randolph was equal to the strike.
Garry Monk’s side started to take control, and Assombalonga went close again, heading just wide from a corner, before Marvin Johnson forced a great stop from Carson just moments later.
The home side should have been level on the stroke of half-time, as Fabio met Christie’s far post cross, but the former Manchester United full-back headed over from six yards.
Boro were made to pay for their profligacy immediately after the break as Daniel Ayala clipped the majestic Vydra inside the area, and Simon Hooper didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot, although Ayala could count himself highly fortunate to only receive a yellow card.
The Czech placed the spot-kick perfectly to Randolph’s left to make it 2-0 and score his 11th goal of the season.
Ayala eventually saw red on the hour mark as he received a second yellow card for a foul on David Nugent, and Derby compounded the misery inside the Riverside just five minutes later.
Randolph sliced his clearance to allow Vydra a simple finish to complete his first ever treble in league football and make it 12 goals in all competitions this season.
Derby searched for more goals as they tried to put the icing on the cake, with Lawrence going close, but in the end, the three goals secured the three points and a superb away win.
Middlesbrough: Randolph; Christie, Ayala, Gibson, Fabio; Forshaw, Clayton; Johnson (Traore, 55’), Braithwaite (Fry, 67), Downing (Bamford, 79’); Assombalonga.
Substitutes not used: Dimi, Friend, Leadbitter, Fletcher.
Derby County: Carson; Baird, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley (Russell, 84’); Weimann, Vydra (Thorne, 66), Lawrence; Nugent (Martin, 66’)
Substitutes not used: Mitchell, Wisdom, Pearce, Olsson.
The hosts put Derby under immense pressure as they searched for an equalizer in the first half, but when Vydra doubled the Rams’ lead, it put Rowett’s side in complete control of the game.
Ayala, later to be sent off, brought down the forward and the Czech picked himself up to convert in typically stylish fashion.
Vydra was absolutely unstoppable from the first minute. His belter inside the opening quarter of an hour set the tone, and he added to it with a typically cool penalty, and a clinical finish after a mistake from Randolph.
He now has 10 league goals this season, and this game marked the first time that he’s scored in three successive league games for Derby, a true mark of his consistency so far this season.
There’s no let-up in the hectic schedule for the Rams, with Rowett’s back at Pride Park Stadium to face Ipswich Town on Tuesday night (28th November).
Former Derby boss Nigel Clough then brings his Burton Albion team up the A38 to face his former club on Saturday (2nd December).