Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka tells players to focus on only themselves

Boro's Adam Clayton clashes with Spurs' Dele Alli
Boro's Adam Clayton clashes with Spurs' Dele Alli

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka wants his players to concentrate only on themselves as the relegation dogfight hits up.

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Spurs left Boro 15th in the tableand one point above the relegation zone, having failed to win any of their last seven league matches.

First half we went to the pitch knowing the other results put us under pressure.

Their situation worsened after Sunderland band Hull registered impressive wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool respectively earlier on Saturday.

“We have to think about ourselves,” Karanka said.

“We need to know that we are good enough to stay in the division.

“We have to forget the opponents and we have to be confident because the attitude and commitment the players put on the pitch every single day is amazing.”

Boro stood firm in North London and held the home side to 0-0 at the break, but Spurs took the lead when Harry Kane converted a second half penalty after Bernardo Espinosa brought down Heung-Min Son just before the hour mark.

“At the end we had a few chances to score,” said Karanka. “We scored against Man City [in injury time] but today it was impossible.

“First half we went to the pitch knowing the other results put us under pressure and I told them at half-time that we had to play in the way we know how to play, without pressure.

“That’s because when you are here [White Hart Lane] trying to do something against Tottenham under pressure it’s impossible.

“At the end of the game we had chances to score through Marten de Roon and Alvaro Negredo.

“Again, the players have done their best and I can only say good things because they put everything on the pitch in every single game.”

Boro have scored only eight goals in 11 away games all season and for all their defensive organisation, they rarely looked like adding to that tally here.

A crucial period now follows for Karanka’s men who will surely need some sort of cushion before beginning a run-in that includes Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool in their final six games of the season.

Tottenham enjoyed 71 per cent possession during a one-sided first half but found themselves frustrated by the visitors’ disciplined rearguard action.

Son was his team’s most potent threat down the left and he should have broken the deadlock early on when set free by Alli, but his driven finish was palmed away by Valdes.

After Kane’s penalty, Spurs could have made the result more comfortable late on but twice Eriksen, Alli and Kane ran into each other when a second goal looked likely.

Middlesbrough almost made them pay when Alvaro Negredo’s acrobatic bicycle kick connected with Fabio da Silva’s cross but he flashed harmlessly wide and then De Roon scuffed his finish past the far post.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Davies, Dembele, Wanyama, Eriksen, Alli (Winks 88), Son (Sissoko 81), Kane (Janssen 90). Subs Not Used: Vorm, Onomah, Wimmer, Carter-Vickers. Goals: Kane 58 pen.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Chambers, Bernardo, Gibson, Da Silva, de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw (Guedioura 62), Traore (Bamford 79), Negredo, Downing (Stuani 62). Subs Not Used: Ayala, Leadbitter, Guzan, Gestede. Booked: de Roon.

Att: 31,949 Ref: Mark Clattenburg