KARANKA PUZ­ZLED BY BORO BOOS

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Paul Brown

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

ARM-FUL: QPR’s Leroy Fer con­cedes the last-gasp penalty for hand­ball

STAR MAN DANIEL AYALA Mid­dles­brough

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