Phillip Cocu was pleased to see Derby County extend their unbeaten run to five games in all competitions as they grabbed a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough.
A stunning 25-yard strike from Lewis Wing gave Boro a first-half lead with Derby, in their first away fixture of 2020 in the Sky Bet Championship, off the pace in the opening 45 minutes.
Young midfielder Jason Knight equalised in fortuitous style for Derby just after half-time as his deep cross from the right deceived goalkeeper Aynsley Pears and went in off the post.
The hosts did however retake the lead midway through the second half as Paddy McNair scored from the spot after Matt Clarke was deemed to have fouled Patrick Roberts.
Derby, for the second away league fixture in a row, levelled in the dying minutes as Duane Holmes’ stunning volley from distance found the bottom corner to ensure the spoils were shared at the Riverside Stadium.
Cocu’s side are now unbeaten in their last four league games, winning two and drawing two, as they seek to build some momentum and move up the Championship table in the second half of the campaign.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game, Cocu said: “We are five unbeaten now and that is important even though it is not a win for us today.
“We didn’t want to go to an away game and get a defeat and especially after a penalty which I have my doubts about. It was a crucial moment in the game and they gained confidence and momentum again.
“We kept going, kept pushing and in the end we got a late goal which was pleasing to see because getting on a good run is what we all want.
“We want to keep going in the right direction, however the first half was not good from our side and that’s something we need to improve on.
“The second half was better from us and we got the draw, so now we move on to the home game against Hull City next weekend.”
On Derby’s goals, Cocu added: “I haven’t asked Jason yet if it was a cross or shot, but if I were him, always say it is your intention as a player!
“Sometimes, maybe even if it wasn’t his intention to score directly, you deserve this kind of luck because of the way you play.
“The second goal from Duane Holmes was a great strike, it was difficult with the ball dropping out the sky, but he caught it well and it found the net.”
Cocu pulled no punches in his half-time team talk with his players.
The Dutchman was not happy with his side’s performance as the struggled to stamp their authority on the game.
He was, however, satisfied with how the Rams responded in the second period.
“I was quite angry after our first half because if you play good or bad you must be consistent in your attitude and desire,” he said.
“You can play good or bad on the ball, it is a game of football, but I think we couldn’t match up with Middlesbrough.
“It confirmed in the second half that if you go on the pitch as a team with the right mentality, maybe still it wasn’t the best game we have played, but in the end you can get a result.”
Skipper Wayne Rooney started the game in midfield and dropped deep on several occasions in the first half in order to get on the ball.
The 34-year-old was deployed further up in the pitch in the second period and Cocu was pleased with his impact.
He said: “Wayne played as a second striker with a little bit more freedom to try to get on the ball in a more offensive part of the pitch.
“Duane Holmes and Max Bird together picked up second balls in the midfield and I think it worked well.
“The second half was much better, getting in better positions in front of the goal and in the end we deserved a result.”