Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka was satisfied with a draw at Derby County last night – despite the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser.
It looked like Kike’s 16th-minute strike would see all three Championship points go back to Teesside as Derby dominated possession but struggled to create openings.
It was our third game in six days, so it’s difficult to compete every single day, but, for that reason, I’m pleasedAITOR KARANKA
But, with two minutes remaining, substitute Johnny Russell struck the equaliser to earn the Rams a third straight draw in the league, maintaining an unbeaten league record for new boss Paul Clement.
“Yes, I think it’s a very good point,” said Karanka.
“It was not as great a performance as Saturday (when Boro outgunned Bolton 3-0), we didn’t play in our way, but I’m proud of all of them as they worked against a very good team.
“It was our third game in six days, so it’s difficult to compete every single day, but, for that reason, I’m pleased.
“I would have liked to win the game, we were close, but we have to learn that one mistake (can cost you).
“We have to learn when we are tired, we have to concentrate more. But I’m pleased with the attitude as it was very difficult.”
Dimi Konstantopoulos beat away a Jeff Hendrick strike in the sixth minute as Derby started brightly, and it was somewhat against the run of play when Boro took the lead with their first noteworthy attack.
George Friend’s shot from inside the box was deflected into the path of Kike, who curled a left-foot finish away from Scott Carson from the corner of the six-yard area.
The Spanish striker nearly had another soon after, but his header from a deep Stewart Downing cross from the left dropped agonisingly wide of the far post.
The Rams would have gone into the break level but for a super fingertip save from Konstantopoulos to keep out Tom Ince’s curling free-kick.
The second half took much the same shape as the first as Derby were largely kept at arm’s length. Boro occasionally looked a threat on the break and Carson had to help a shot from Kike over the crossbar on the hour mark.
Konstantopoulos smothered a glancing header from Martin right on his goal-line.
The Rams were encouraged by that and, with two minutes remaining, ex-Dundee United striker Russell pounced to lash home from eight yards out from fellow sub Ryan Shotton’s long punt into the penalty area.
Derby: Carson, Baird, Keogh, Shackell, Warnock, Hanson (Shotton 39), Thorne, Hendrick (Russell 43), Ince, Martin, Weimann (Bent 72). Subs not used: Grant, Forsyth, Dawkins, Pearce. Booked: Thorne. Goal: Russell 88.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Kalas, Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Leadbitter, Adomah, Fabbrini (Reach 74), Downing (Forshaw 89), Kike (Stuani 77). Subs not used: Nugent, Mejias, Stephens, Nsue. Booked: Friend, Fabbrini. Goals: Kike 16.
Att: 30,855. Ref: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire).