Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka rued the loss of two points in Saturday’s 2-2 Premier League draw at champions Leicester City.
But the Spaniard was happy with his team’s efforts, as Alvaro Negredo’s brace twice put Boro in front only for penalties from Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani to rescue the Foxes.
“We showed again we are a really good side and how well we can play, against Leicester who won the league last season,” said Karanka.
“We should have won the game and we were the better team. But football can be unfair and we didn’t get the three points we deserved.”
Negredo’s 11-game goalless run since the opening day of the season had sparked criticism, but Karanka always believed the Valencia loanee would end his barren spell – as reported in Friday’s paper. “I know how good Alvaro is and how hard he is working,” he said.
“I don’t know if he was aware of criticism, you have to speak with him. When I arrived, he was perfect for me.”
“I am pleased for him. But he scored two goals because our team were amazing.”
Karanka claimed that Leicester skipper Wes Morgan admitted one of the hosts’ game-saving penalties should not have stood.
The Boro boss said Morgan conceded he fouled Calum Chambers, which forced the defender to handle in the area for the hosts’ first spot kick. He said: “I was sure one player pushed Calum.
“If I had one doubt, which I didn’t have, the players told me Morgan recognised to them he had pushed Calum.
“I’ve been here for three years and I always say football is about a team. If we want to win or lose we’re working as a team, and the referees work as a team.”
Negredo made the breakthrough on 13 minutes, feeding Gaston Ramirez and timing his run to meet the Uruguayan’s low cross and sweep the ball into the top corner from 16 yards.
After Mahrez equalised, Negredo restored the lead on 71 minutes. Adam Forshaw’s ball over the top caught out Leicester and, with Christian Fuchs playing Negredo onside, the striker raced into the area and planted a fine angled finish past Zieler.
Leicester, though, equalised in the third minute of added time when Morgan was fouled in the box by Marten De Roon and Slimani sent Victor Valdes the wrong way.
Leicester have won just once in their last eight league games and remain two points above the relegation zone.
Boss Claudio Ranieri, whose side visit Sunderland this Saturday, admitted they must be prepared for the possibility of a survival scrap.
He said: “When teams similar to Leicester play for the first time in Europe, they always lose something in ttheir league.
“But for us now it’s important for us to think we are in the battle for relegation and then every point is OK.
“I’m not worried. But I am a very pragmatic man. Last season we were very very far ahead, but I was always looking behind me.”
Leicester: Zieler, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Musa 68), Amartey, King, Albrighton, Okazaki (Gray 76), Vardy (Slimani 65). Subs not used: Hernandez, James, Hamer, Schlupp. Booked: Albrighton, Fuchs, Amartey, Vardy. Goals: Mahrez 34 pen, Slimani 90 pen.
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Da Silva, Traore (Stuani 79), de Roon, Clayton, Forshaw, Ramirez (Fischer 88), Negredo. Subs not used: Bernardo, Leadbitter, Guzan, Downing, Nsue. Booked: Chambers, Negredo, Valdes, Stuani. Goals: Negredo 13, 72.
Att: 32,058. Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).