MATCH REPORT: CITY 0-1 BOROCITY's hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League took a blow as they were beaten 1-0 by a resistant Middlesbrough side on Friday night.
Alex Tettey's own goal inside the first ten minutes proved the decisive moment in a game which the Canaries fought to get something from but ultimately fell short.
They were the more progressive sides for the large majority of the contest yet found themselves up against the best defence in the Sky Bet Championship.
The defeat means Boro rise above the Canaries in the table, with Alex Neil's side moving down to fourth place with just two matches remaining in the regular season.
Neil reverted back to the team that kicked-off their five-match winning streak, with Bradley Johnson returning from suspension.
Nathan Redmond was the man to drop to the bench, where he was joined by Lewis Grabban, who was back in the matchday squad after limping out of the pre-game warm-up at Leeds United.
For Middlesbrough, ex-Canary Daniel Ayala started at the heart of defence, while one of the league's Player of the Season nominees, Patrick Bamford, led their attack.
They started with the bit between their teeth and the Canaries were unable to cope with the early tempo set by Aitor Karanka's men.
John Ruddy turned Ayala's header over the bar and Jelle Vossen volleyed over before they took a deserved advantage after just eight minutes.
Grant Leadbitter's corner from the left was flicked on by Tettey at the near-post, and it looped into the back of the net, with Albert Adomah helping it on its way after the ball had crossed the line.
Ruddy got a hand on Lee Tomlin's drilled cross as 'Boro continued on the front foot - Bamford was the next to keep City's keeper busy, beating the offside trap but scuffing his low shot.
On 20 minutes, however, the hosts should have been level as Johnson rose to nod the ball across the six-yard box where Jonny Howson was waiting.
Squeezing in between two defenders, the midfielder somehow managed to guide his header wide despite making a well-time connection.
City were now the side looking to make things happens, but Boro looked a threat on the counter-attack and Ruddy will have looked on nervously when Adomah volleyed narrowly over after sprinting through the middle.
Sebastien Bassong and Wes Hoolahan both had half chances as Neil's troops built momentum, but the latter was cautioned in the final moments of the half for apparent simulation under Ayala's challenge in the box.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 Middlesbrough
Ruddy spread himself well to deny Bamford inside the first minute of the second half, with the striker once again chasing off the shoulder of the last defender.
Boro injury breaks were one of the themes of the night, and striker Vossen was forced off on the hour mark after a strong but fair challenge by Tettey.
Grabban came on as Neil's first substitute, replacing Graham Dorrans, and City were steadily building pressure but needed to find the leveller rapidly.
They weren't creating chances through a stubborn away defence, however, and Tomlin almost caught City out on the counter-attack with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Gary Hooper and Redmond replaced Johnson and Hoolahan in Norwich's final throw of the dice with a little over ten to go, just before the referee waved away appeals for a City penalty.
It came after George Friend appeared to block Jerome's cross with his hand, but to City's frustration nothing was given.
Bamford then wasted a golden opportunity to put the game to bed, racing on the ball after Whittaker's clearance was blocked, but he pushed his effort wide.
Grabban saw a snapshot deflected wide of Dimitrios Konstantopoulos' post, but despite their best efforts the Canaries slipped to a damaging defeat.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 Middlesbrough
GOALS: Boro: Alex Tettey og (8)
NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Olsson; Howson, Tettey, Dorrans (Grabban 62), Johnson (Hooper 78); Hoolahan (Redmond 78); Jerome. Subs not used: Rudd (GK), R Bennett, O'Neil, Odjidja-Ofoe.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Konstantopoulos; Kalas, Ayala, Gibson, Friend; Adomah, Leadbitter (c), Clayton; Tomlin (Amorebieta 90), Vossen (Forshaw 60), Bamford (Kike 85). Subs not used: Ripley (GK), Whitehead, Reach, Amorebieta, Nsue.
REFEREE: Mr B Madeley