JULIO Arca thanked late hero Stephan McManus for sparing his penalty blushes.
Arca spurned the chance of a 76th minute equaliser in Saturday’s clash with Leicester City after sending a tame spot kick too close to keeper Chris Weale.
But the leveller arrived for Boro in stoppage time when substitute McManus headed home to earn the hosts a 3-3 draw.
Former Sunderland midfielder Arca said: “To be honest, it wasn’t the best penalty.
“It happens. I’m going to be disappointed about it for a while, but luckily Mick (McManus) saved my life by scoring with the header.
“He got the goal in the end and that meant I could breathe a massive sigh of relief.”
The point lifted Boro 10 points clear of the relegation zone ahead of next weekend’s visit of relegation-threatened Sheffield United.
Arca added: “We have another big game coming up against Sheffield United, who are struggling below us.
“But everything is in our hands now, we don’t have to worry about anyone else.
“I think we probably need a few more points to be safe, but hopefully if we win next week that should be enough to guarantee our place in the Championship.”
Former Boro striker Yakubu opened the scoring when he tapped in the impressive Richie Wellens’ low cross.
Boro hit back within 10 minutes when Marvin Emnes slotted home.
But Leicester regained the lead when Boro keeper Paul Smith couldn’t get to centre-back Jeffrey Bruma’s looping header and the ball fell kindly to Yakubu in the six-yard box.
City looked to have killed the game within minutes of the restart when Darius Vassell freed Yakubu who ran 10 yards into the box before calmly finding the net with the outside of his right foot.
But Rhys Williams gave the home side hope when he flicked the ball up on the edge of the box before effortlessly knocking it into the bottom corner.
Merouane Zemmama’s free kick smacked the outside of the post before Arca missed from the spot.
Emnes then hit the post in injury time and it looked too little to late until McManus connected perfectly with a Zemmama corner.
Middlesbrough: Smith, McMahon, Hines, Davies (McManus 71), Bennett, Smallwood (Zemmama 60), Rhys Williams, Arca, Taylor (Kink 71), Emnes, McDonald. Subs Not Used: Coyne, Halliday, Grounds, Tavares. Booked: Rhys Williams. Goals: Emnes 14, Rhys Williams 55, McManus 90.
Leicester: Weale, Naughton, Bamba, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Vassell, Wellens, Oakley, Gallagher (Abe 71), Kamara (Waghorn 88), Yakubu (Miguel Vitor 80). Subs Not Used: Pereira, Howard, King, Dyer. Sent Off: Bruma (77). Booked: Yakubu, Bruma, Vassell, Kamara, Wellens, Naughton. Goals: Yakubu 5, 45, 49.
Att: 14,500 Ref: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).