MIDDLESBROUGH head coach Aitor Karanka admitted his side had been beaten by “the best side in the league” but felt Leicester’s first goal should have been disallowed.
The Boro players were furious when Jamie Vardy’s 10th goal of the season was awarded in the 52nd minute, claiming that the ball had gone out of play in the build-up to the goal.
Karanka said: “Before the game I said Leicester were the best team in the league. I still say that now but they did not need any extra help from the referee. But we need to learn that if you concede the first goal or make a mistake you have to keep working in the same way throughout the game.
“We did well in the first half and had chances to score but in the second half they were more intelligent than us.
“They took advantage of the referee’s decision and raised their game while we went down.
“We could have been better in the second half. The game is not over because you concede the first goal.
“We felt the ball had gone out of play in the build up to the first goal but that is no excuse.”
The goal came when a long ball from Paul Konchesky saw David Nugent win possession with a strong challenge on Daniel Ayala before, setting up Vardy for a simple finish.
Another long ball threatened Boro again but this time Shay Given raced off his line to beat the onrushing Vardy.
With the ball travelling across the sodden surface much better than in the first half when there was a torrential thunderstorm, there was more pace and flow to the game, and Vardy was causing all manner of problems and earned the Foxes a 71st-minute penalty when he was brought down by Rhys Williams.
Given, however, dived to his right to save Nugent’s spot-kick.
It was a short lived reprieve for Boro. When Williams flattened Vardy again in the 73rd minute, this time outside the area to the left of goal, Matty James picked out Ritchie De Laet with his free-kick and the defender scored with a header at the far post.
Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Moore (Wasilewski 9), Konchesky, Knockaert, Drinkwater, James, Dyer (Mahrez 79), Nugent, Vardy (Phillips 79). Subs not used: Hammond, King, Taylor-Fletcher, Logan. Goals: Vardy 52, De Laet 73.
Middlesbrough: Given, Varga, Ayala, Williams, Friend, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Adomah, Ledesma (Chalobah 77), Carayol, Jutkiewicz (Kamara 59). Subs not used: Butterfield, Emnes, Konstantopoulos, Gibson, Omeruo. Booked: Ayala.
Att: 26,047. Ref: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).