MIDDLESBROUGH boss Aitor Karanka hailed the spirit of his players after David Nugent’s injurytime winner ended one of the most tempestuous periods in the club’s history on Friday night.
A little over two weeks ago, victory at home to Wolves saw the Teessiders march to the top of the Championship table.
But after defeats away to Rotherham and Charlton – with Karanka’s bizarre ‘walkout’ sandwiched inbetween – Boro’s push for promotion looked in tatters until substitute Nugent sealed this unlikely three points against Hull City.
“It’s the best way to finish the week,” said an emotional Karanka, who continued to bat away questions regarding his absence from last week’s game at Charlton.
“I couldn’t imagine we would finish the game in that way.We have played against one of the best teams in the league.
“I trust my players and we showed that we need each other.
“This was about much more than the three points. We are together again as a club.”
In truth, despite their manager’s return, Boro looked like a side gasping for confidence despite a rousing reception and lively opening.
Hull, by and large, were impressive and deserved a point for their efforts. Quick to shut Boro down, Steve Bruce’s side also had their moments in attack with the impressive Sone Aluko leading the away side’s charge as they grew in stature.
But missed chances are becoming the story of Hull’s season and they were made to pay for two here. The first when Robert Snodgrass fired against the upright, the second when Ahmed Elmohamady blasted over the bar with just eight minutes remaining.
“They were the two big chances of the game,” said Bruce. “Big chances in a big game like this, you have to take them.
“We can’t keep missing chances like we are. It’s been the same now for the last four or five weeks.
“We have created two wonderful opportunities against Middlesbrough, and we haven’t been able to take them.”
Karanka, who confessed to watching last Sunday’s desperate 2-0 drubbing at Charlton on TV, stuck to
ROAR OF DELIGHT: Boro boss Aitor Karanka celebrates David Nugent’s dramatic late winner