Karanka re­turn fails to halt Boro’s surge

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL -

AI­TOR KARANKA was touched by the re­cep­tion he got from Mid­dles­brough’s fans, even if his re­turn to the River­side Sta­dium ended in de­feat for his Not­ting­ham For­est team.

Karanka was mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance on Teesside since leav­ing in March, 2017 but was un­able to pre­vent a de­feat which keeps Boro in the play-off zone.

Daniel Ay­ala and Ste­wart Down­ing struck in the sev­enth and 31st min­utes, leav­ing Karanka re­member­ing the re­cep­tion he got from fans when he en­tered his tech­ni­cal area for the first time.

Karanka said: “It was re­ally nice and it has been a dif­fi­cult week to pre­pare ev­ery­thing. There are a lot of good mem­o­ries and I did not have any doubt that we love each other be­cause when I came here I felt a re­ally hun­gry club and when I left, it was in the Premier League and ev­ery­one was en­joy­ing the Premier League.”

Boro man­ager Tony Pulis said: “I was pleased with the first half, I thought we played re­ally well with the move­ment of the ball and the po­si­tion we got into and the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chances. But the one dis­ap­point­ing thing was that half-time came, be­cause it stopped the mo­men­tum which sometimes hap­pens.

“There are five games to go. We spend far too much time in this coun­try wor­ry­ing about ev­ery­one else and what they are do­ing in­stead of con­cen­trat­ing on your own lives and I can only af­fect what hap­pens here – and that is what I have told the play­ers.

“We just have to fo­cus on our­selves. The im­por­tant thing is we re­main fo­cused and do our best and the play­ers un­der­stand that.”

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