AITOR Karanka praised Middlesbrough skipper Grant Leadbitter for keeping his head to seal a dramatic stoppage-time win over Huddersfield in the Sky Bet Championship.
The former Sunderland midfielder coolly slotted home a last-gasp penalty for a double which took him to six goals for the season and sealed victory on Saturday.
Karanka said: “He is a great example to the other players.
“He is one of those players who impressed me when I first came here. He is the kind of player who is a strong character and is always working. In bad moments he is always there.”
Leadbitter struck a stunning 35-yard free-kick, a rising drive into the top right-hand corner, to open the scoring in the 36th minute.
Karanka said: “It was a brilliant goal and the penalty came at a difficult time for any player to stand up and score.”
Leadbitter’s opener was a beauty which came after a strong opening from a Town side seeking a first home win since March.
James Vaughan was put through by a defence-splitting pass from Nahki Wells, but his first touch was poor and he slammed into keeper Dimitros Konstantopoulos with his foot high, sparking furious reactions from Boro players and fans.
That earned a booking and there was a four-minute hold-up with arguments all over the pitch.
Boro looked like winning 1-0 until Jon Stead nodded home the equaliser five minutes from time. But, just when the Terriers thought they had snatched a draw, Adam Reach was fouled in the box by Tommy Smith.
Leadbitter stepped up to take full advantage and ensure all three points went back to Teesside to the delight of 3,000 travelling fans.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Smith, Lynch, Hudson, Robinson, Coady, Peltier (Ward 80), Butterfield, Wells, Vaughan (Stead 26), Bunn (Lolley 61). Subs Not Used: Dixon, Scannell, Murphy, Wallace. Booked: Butterfield, Vaughan. Goals: Stead 86.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Damia, Gibson, Ayala, Friend, Adomah (Nsue 90), Clayton, Leadbitter, Reach, Tomlin (Vossen 59), Garcia (Bamford 77). Subs Not Used: Blackman, Whitehead, Wildschut, Woodgate. Booked: Friend, Clayton. Goals: Leadbitter 36, 90 pen.
Att: 17,993. Ref: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).