Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka hails 'massive' three points at QPR
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 02/04/16 1:14pm
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka described his team's 3-2 victory at QPR as "another massive three points" in their battle for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.
The win at Loftus Road took Boro up to second in the table, leapfrogging Brighton who face leaders Burnley on Saturday.
Jordan Rhodes put the visitors ahead before Jamie Mackie's stunning strike hauled Rangers level.
But Gaston Ramirez headed in from a second-half corner by Grant Leadbitter, who had just had a penalty saved by Alex Smithies.
And Ben Gibson headed home after 56 minutes to put Boro in control, although they had to endure an anxious finish after Tjaronn Chery's late goal for Rangers.
"It's another massive three points and it was another typical Championship game," Karanka said.
"We were playing a team in mid-table but they wanted every single ball and were fighting, but my team were really good.
"In the first 25 minutes of the second half we played really well. They caused us some problems but we are a consistent team and we won another three points that are really important for us.
"We made a few mistakes to be in the position we are now in - in January we were in a really good position.
"Now we can't make any more mistakes. We have to keep going. We have to keep concentrated on the pitch because every single point is massive for us."
He added: "When they equalised we were a little bit lost on the pitch, but when we play the way we usually play it is difficult to stop us.
"We are more mature and have a better squad than last season. Our aim is to learn from the past and be optimistic for the future."
QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink bemoaned his team's woeful defending from set-pieces.
Rhodes scored following an error by Grant Hall, but Hasselbaink was more annoyed by Ramirez and Gibson netting from corners after getting away from Gabriele Angella and Nedum Onuoha respectively.
"I think in the first half we controlled the game, but they are a very good side and that is why they are where they are," Hasselbaink said.
"They scored because of a mistake and then in the second half I was disappointed with how we started.
"Their first 10 minutes of the second half was better than ours and we couldn't keep the ball, which we had been doing really well.
"But the most disappointing thing was that we got two goals against us from set-pieces. We know these moments in games are very important.
"To concede two goals like that is very disappointing, because defending from set-pieces is something we had been doing well."
But Hasselbaink was encouraged by Rangers' positive response to going 3-1 down and believes it bodes well for next season.
"We had the right reaction and that tells me a lot of good things," he said.
"It tells me the spirit is very good and that we are going in the right direction, but it was not to be today.
"We are trying to improve and to finish the season as strongly as possible and get that winning mentality in the club."