KARANKA PUZZLED BY BORO BOOS
AITOR Karanka accused Middlesbrough supporters of suffering from short-term memories after they snatched victory over ten-man QPR – but he’s not complaining.
Boro leapt above Burnley to third in the Championship table on Friday night after Grant Leadbitter’s injurytime penalty eventually broke down their resilient visitors.
For Karanka, it was an excellent response to their humbling 3-0 defeat at table-topping Hull 13 days earlier and a great compliment that QPR would set up to frustrate his side.
However, the Spanish manager – who took the reins at a relegationthreatened Boro in 2013 – admitted his confusion at boos that rang around the Riverside Stadium during the evening.
“I knew that I was in an amazing place with an amazing club, but I didn’t know that they have a small memory,” said Karanka. “Two years ago we were playing against teams fighting for the relegation positions.
“Now we are playing against teams who were in the Premier League five months ago and they are coming here to defend and they were booing and they were impatient.
“I am really pleased because I didn’t know how demanding they are. That means I am in the right place because I like to have this expectation but it’s curious.
“I can’t understand frustration when we play against QPR, who were in the Premier League last season. These kind of moments are, for me, when the crowd has to support the team because, after all, we have to be together.
“I can’t say anything bad about them, I just want to say thank you, but it was surprise for me.”
The hosts created a handful of openings during the game, only to come face-to-face with a well-organised QPR – without interim head coach Neil Warnock, who missed the game for personal reasons.
Adam Clayton created the first meaningful opening after a quarter of an hour with a neat through ball to David Nugent, but Nedum Onuoha intervened just in time to clear.
Shortly afterwards, Nugent glanced an Albert Adomah cross across the face of goal, only to watch the ball bounce back off the post and safely into Rob Green’s hands.
The R’s almost pinched one five minutes before the break when captain Leadbitter saw yellow for a foul on Leroy Fer and Alejandro Faurlin forced Dimi Konstantopoulos into a smart save from the free-kick.
QPR began the second half well, Yun Suk-young’s teasing cross causing havoc in the box before Matt Phillips spurned a good chance after Faurlin unlocked the Boro defence.
At the other end George Friend fired past Green’s right-hand post, as the hosts stepped up the search for a winner.
And, three minutes into stoppage time, Daniel Ayala sent an overhead kick goalwards and Fer did his best Luis Suarez impression, keeping the ball out with his arm.
The Dutch international saw red and Leadbitter stepped up to coolly fire home, to leave QPR assistant interim manager Kevin Blackwell wondering how his side were leaving the north-east empty-handed. “Sometimes in life you don’t get out what you put in and that’s most certainly the case,” he said. “I feel for the players because they didn’t deserve to lose the game, especially in those circumstances.
“As a manager, if you come off and look the players in the eye and know they gave you everything, you can’t argue – and I feel like that after that.
“The lads can leave with their heads held high despite the result. Everyone put in a shift, everyone ran their hearts out for the team.
“The Boro players, staff and fans know their team have got out of jail.”
ARM-FUL: QPR’s Leroy Fer concedes the last-gasp penalty for handball
STAR MAN DANIEL AYALA Middlesbrough