AITOR Karanka has backed Dimi Konstantopoulos to bounce back from his last-gasp error – and urged his team to pick themselves up ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Huddersfield Town.
The Spaniard’s coaching staff were straight onto the pitch at the full-time whistle on Saturday to console the Greek keeper, who completely missed a back pass from Kenneth Omeruo after an outrageous bobble, leaving Bobby Zamora to tap the ball into an empty net.
That goal put QPR 2-1 up and immediately after, Ravel Morrison broke through to complete the scoring – and Konstantopolous’s misery.
Karanka refused to blame the goalie, instead praising him for some impressive saves earlier in the game.
“It’s a mistake, but I don’t want to say we lost because Dimi made a mistake,” said the Boro gaffer.
“Dimi made a mistake, but he made other saves in the game. He’s made a lot of saves the last two or three games and for this I am happy with him.
“When we made mistakes at the beginning, when I arrived here, I never said which players made the mistakes.
“We are a team and when we win, we win together and when we lose, we lose together.”
Karanka revealed that Tomas Mejias has recovered from a dislocated finger quicker than expected and will be back in contention in the next couple of weeks, leaving the boss with a decision on his hands as to who will start between the sticks.
After a spell out on the sidelines with injury, Jason Steele is fully fit but former Hartlepool keeper Konstantopoulos was given the nod ahead of the England under-21 keeper after former Real Madrid man Mejias suffered his setback.
QPR went close twice within the opening two minutes as Boro failed to clear a corner and Joey Barton’s 25-yard drive was palmed away by Konstantopoulos. Tom Carroll got to the rebound the Greek keeper blocked his close-range follow-up with his feet.
The home team then took control and George Friend and Jacob Butterfield had shots turned over and Kei Kamara bundled behind from a free-kick.
Boro got a scrappy opener on 18 minutes as left-back Friend wriggled into the box from the flank and- although he stumbled and lost the ball- it was generously deflected back into his path to stab a low eight-yard effort that squirmed through the hands of Rob Green and over the line.
Rangers grabbed an equaliser in first-half stoppage time as Boro’s defence was pulled out of shape and Niko Kranjcar nipped it to drill in a shot that was deflected kindly for Yossi Benayoun to rifle in from close range.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw, when Boro lost concentration in stoppage time.
On 94 minutes, a routine ball was played back towards Konstantopoulos and the keeper came out and took a swing at an attempted clearance and missed completely, leaving Zamora free to stroll through and tap home.
And then, on 96 minutes, Morrison ran behind the defence to collect a diagonal cross and slammed home from 15 yards.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos, Varga, Omeruo, Gibson, Friend, Adomah, Chalobah, Whitehead, Kamara (Ledesma 88), Butterfield (Tomlin 64), Graham. Subs Not Used: Morris, Steele, Luke Williams, Main, Atkinson. Booked: Chalobah, Friend, Kamara. Goals: Friend 18.
QPR: Green, Hughes, Onuoha, Hill, Yun, Benayoun (O’Neil 76), Barton, Carroll, Kranjcar (Hoilett 61), Morrison, Keane (Zamora 64). Subs Not Used: Simpson, Murphy, Donaldson, Petrasso. Booked: Carroll, Kranjcar, Barton, Morrison, O’Neil. Goals: Benayoun 45, Morrison 90, Zamora 90.
Att: 15,075 Ref: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire).