Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka defended Victor Valdes after the goalkeeper’s error handed Burnley a 1-0 Premier League victory at Turf Moor on Monday.
Andre Gray’s powerful effort with 10 minutes left on the clock was fumbled in by Valdes and Burnley leapfrogged Middlesbrough in the table as a result of their sixth home win of the season.
But despite Valdes’ mistake ensuring Middlesbrough’s wait for an away Premier League victory extends to eight matches, Karanka felt it was unfair to criticise the former Barcelona star.
“We win as a team and lose as a team,” Karanka told reporters. “Victor is an amazing keeper.
“You don’t have to look at when he played in Barcelona, just look at the last month where he’s saved us a lot of times. So I can’t understand why we have to criticise Victor Valdes.
“It is always tough when you lose to a direct opponent in the table. It is frustrating because I think we were better than them.
“We had the chances, especially in the first half, and I think we had the game under control. In the second half we had more chances from corners and set pieces. We can keep the positives from our performance.
“This kind of game [against Burnley] does not come around very often and we have missed an opportunity to add points on the table. We have to learn from this game once again. But now we think about the future, and Manchester United at the end of the week.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche accepted his side were made to work hard for their win and singled out Gray for special praise.
“We have had to work very hard for the win. It was a close game and an ugly game at times. In defence of both teams I must say conditions were really hard, the wind was swirling and the ball was going all over the place,” Dyche stated.
“We knew they were not going to come and be easy to knock over, but we finally got there in the end with a good finish.
“It was a hard-fought victory. We are going to have to fight for every inch, as we did.
“I was pleased with Andre Gray. Obviously their goalkeeper might be disappointed but he takes it early, takes it with power and takes it with freedom. He has got that about him, where he will take on a chance and not be afraid to miss and that is a fantastic thing to have.”