Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka insisted he was proud of his side despite seeing them slump to a 3-1 defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.
The visitors took a controversial lead midway through the first half of Saturday’s Premier League clash – Maarten Stekelenburg dropping the ball into his own net after he was clattered into by Alvaro Negredo – only for Gareth Barry, on his 600th Premier League appearance, to level shortly after.
Goals from Seamus Coleman and Romelu Lukaku followed prior to the interval to seal the win for Ronald Koeman’s side, but Karanka was quick to stress that Everton needed to be at their best to beat Boro.
“I’m happy with the performance because of how difficult it is to go to into the second half losing 3-1 at Goodison Park to a team like Everton,” the Spaniard told BT Sport.
“I am very proud. Everton had to play their very best to beat us. When you score an early goal, most of the time it is really good, but not today for us.
“It encouraged them and we lost our concentration. We were a little bit lost for 10-15 mins in the second half and Everton made us pay.
“They could be a force this season if they play in the way they did today and against Sunderland.
“We demanded them to play their best and when they do that they are a really good team with a really good manager who can bring on fantastic players.”
Middlesbrough’s defeat is a second on the bounce in the league and a third in four games in all competitions.