Reading took the lead through skipper Liam Moore but Neil Warnock's side battled back to take three points from an open encounter at Madejski Stadium.
Reading began brightly and Liam Moore had the first two efforts at goal - both charged down. The second, coming just nine minutes in, was a good opportunity; John Swift's corner was met by Meite and the ball dropped loose for Moore to stride onto and strike, but there were too many bodies in the way to force it through to goal.
The Royals penalty area was being hit by long balls and crosses but Rafael had not had to touch the ball when the drinks break came at the midway point in the half, moments after a Marcus Tavernier free kick had sailed over the crossbar.
Our Brazilian stopper did have a save to make when play resumed, getting down low to his left to comfortably collect an Ashley Fletcher strike.
Some excellent defending by Michael Olise took the ball off the toes of the lively Patrick Roberts just before the half hour, as he looked to break the deadlock with a jinking run into the Royals box.
But the Royals broke the deadlock moment later through the resintated skipper! Gabe Osho won a corner when his cross was charged down by the face of George Saville. And Olise's inswinging delivery was flicked on by Meite at the near post for Moore to follow in focre home on the half volley from a few yards out.
The visitors squandered a good chance to level matters three minutes later, Tavernier's cross from the left picking out Spence at the back post, but the Boro man could only direct his header back across the face of goal and wide.
Morrison did well to head clear Marvin Johnson's cross from the same side as Boro pressed for an equaliser. But Reading so nearly added to their lead instead.
First, Olise was set free by a direct ball down the middle following a Boro attack. In front of the last defender he bore down on Pears and cut inside him before tumbling over the Middlesbrough keeper's body. Penalty claims were waved away to the Royals' dismay.
Soon after, John Swift was allowed the space to take aim from 20 yards out and he beat Pears with a swerving strike that cannoned into the inside of the left post. Meite nearly managed to direct the rebound in with his head but he couldn't direct it on target under pressure from the Boro keeper.
Neil Warnock's men however were level at the break. A floated Roberts cross from the right was glanced on by the head of Fletcher and the ball drifted beyond Rafael to nestle inside the left upright.
Half-time | Reading 1-1 Middlesbrough
The first chance of the second half came Reading's way when Meite's pace was too much for Friend to handle. He won a free kick which Olise whipped in from the right and Puscas' downwards header dropped just wide of the bottom left corner.
Rafael came of hit line and slid in to put Fletcher off his stride as Boro looked to counter attack, but Meite had a chance to test Pears at the other end when he powered a header just over in connecting with a well-directed Olise cross.
You couldn't take your eyes of the game for the chances being created and Olise and Rinomhota combined to set Osho free down the right. His early cross fizzed across the six yard box and Puscas' slide at the back post was inches short of connecting.
Next Olise took aim but arced a shot wide of the left post. And Meite skidded a low drive beyond the dive of Pears but the wrong side of the bottom right corrner from range.
Rafael was alert to a Fletcher shot, diving to his right to push the shot clear as we entered the final 25 minutes of an entertaining game. And Roberts did well to cut in from the right and run at a backtracking McIntyre only to see his low shot easily saved by Rafael.
But with nine minutes left, Roberts found a way through. A cut back from the left was left to run for the diminutive forward and he wrapped his left boot around the ball and squeezed a low shot into the bottom right corner.
And despite Reading's efforts to find a leveller, Middlesbrough saw the game out well to seal a victory that propelled them much closer to Championship safety.
Full-time | Reading 1-2 Middlesbrough
Reading: Rafael, Blackett (Obita 82), Osho, Morrison, McIntyre, Moore (c) (McCleary 82), Rinomhota, Swift, Olise (Masika 72), Méïté, Pușcaș (Baldock 77).
Unused subs: Walker, Gunter, Miazga, Boyé, Richards.
Goals: Moore (33)
Yellow: Puscas, Rinomhota
Middlesbrough: Pears, Saville, Dijksteel (McNair 85), Tavernier, Fry, Roberts (Coulson 87), Friend (c), Spence, Johnson, Fletcher (Assombalonga 73), Howson.
Unused subs: Stojanovic, Clayton, Nmecha, Wood, Wing.
Goals: Fletcher (45), Roberts (82)
Referee: Mr A Woolmer