Lita doubles up as Boro win for first time under Strachan

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The Independent Football

In what were expected to be close contests between evenly-matched promotion contenders, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest both thumped in five goals as they beat Queen's Park Rangers and Leicester City respectively.

For Boro it was a first win under manager Gordon Strachan, as Dave Kitson's third for the side and a Leroy Lita double were followed by goals for Gary O'Neill and Mark Yeates in a 5-1 romp in west London. Boro move up to sixth.

Strachan said: "Our target has been to get into the top six and if you do that, you can then see if you can catch the big boys."

Meanwhile, Forest replaced Leicester in third place when Robert Earnshaw's hat-trick set up their 5-1 rout in the Midlands derby, Paul Anderson and Dele Adebola completing Forest's scoring at the City Ground.

Not even the sending off of Kevin Nolan after 49 minutes at St James' Park could stop Newcastle United opening up a four-point lead at the top. Peter Lovenkrands and substitute Fabrice Pancrate scored either side of the red card as they beat Watford 2-0. "What we have shown is a resilience to cope with the bad days and get something from them," Magpies manager Chris Hughton said. Second-placed West Bromwich Albion drew 2-2 in a bad-tempered Midlands derby at Derby County, who led, saw Albion go 2-1 ahead in the 90th minute, but two minutes later DJ Campbell headed their late leveller.

Another eventful weekend beside the seaside for Barnsley. Last Saturday their match at Plymouth Argyle was abandoned with the Tykes leading 4-1. Yesterday Bobby Hassell and Andy Gray scored in the 85th and 88th minutes to grab a 2-1 win at Blackpool. Pool slip below Swansea City who drew 2-2 at Peterborough United.

Argyle lostat home against Shefield United to the only goal, by James Harper, but trouble's brewing for the Blades' neighbours Sheffield Wednesday who lost 2-0 at home to Reading.

League One

The leaders, Leeds United, twice led visitors Huddersfield Town in the Yorkshire derby, equalisers from Lee Novak's header and Jordan Rhodes' 78th-minute strike saw the Terriers earn a point. Second-placed Charlton Athletic beat visitors Southend 1-0.

League Two

Rochdale stay top after a 3-0 win over Macclesfield at Spotland; Bournemouth, second, beat Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at home but Rotherham United were held 2-2 by Burton.

Scottish Premier League

There were routine wins for leaders Celtic 3-0 over Aberdeen, Georgios Samaras scoring twice, while Kris Boyd also scored two as Rangers won 3-1 at bottom club Falkirk. Hibernian, third, beat Motherwell 2-0.

La Liga

Cristiano Ronaldo had a remarkable night as Real Madrid beat Almeria 4-2 at home. He set up the first goal, then in a seven-minute spell late on he earned and missed a penalty, and scored Real's last goal before being booked and sent off. Leaders Barcelona won 3-1 at Deportivo la Coruna.