Middlesborough boss Aitor Karanka claimed he did not see an incident in which Sheffield Wednesday captain Jose Semedo was alleged to have spat at Grant Leadbitter during his side’s 2-0 defeat at Hillsborough.
Semedo produced an angry reaction from Leadbitter and the travelling fans as the Boro substitute waited to take a 64th-minute free-kick, and the complaints continued at full-time.
Wednesday had already established a two-goal lead at that stage thanks to Atdhe Nuhiu’s 52nd-minute penalty and a header from Will Keane two minutes later.
On the incident involving Semedo and Leadbitter, which eventually led to the Portuguese midfielder and Boro forward Lee Tomlin receiving yellow cards, Karanka said: “I can’t say anything because I don’t know what happened.
“Grant, I know him, he’s a very good lad, a very good player but if he (reacted) like that it’s because something happened but I can’t say what happened because I don’t know.
“He’s a strong character but he doesn’t do anything if he doesn’t receive anything bad.”
Karanka was very critical of his promotion-chasing side’s performance at Hillsborough but would not blame the state of the poor pitch for the defeat.
“Last Tuesday I said that against Bolton could be our worst performance (of the season) and today has been worse so it’s difficult but we have to learn from the game today,” he said.
“We have two months in front of us and we’re in a very good position in the table so we have to fix our mistakes.
“I don’t want to use the pitch as an excuse because against Blackpool the pitch was worse than today.
“We won the game at Blackpool because we decided to win the game and we have lost today because we decided to lose. I like to play on better pitches but it’s not an excuse.”
Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray was pleased to see his side claim a first home win since Boxing Day and said his players had worked on nullifying Boro’s threat.
“It’s a long time coming,” Gray said. “We’ve had these watched two or three times now and if you stand off them, they’ll hurt you because they’ve got quality players, they’ll pick out quality passes.
“We worked all week to press and close down and force errors, which we did do. It was an open game in the first half but we probably dominated more with the ball but neither keeper was worked.
“Second half, our performance thoroughly deserved the win.
“The only way they were probably going to get in was on a counter attack. We’ve caused a good side problems by being in their faces and they couldn’t get into any rhythm.
“Every game I’ve seen them, they’ve dominated the games through the midfield and we stopped them from playing and suddenly we were on the front foot.
“We won more second balls today, we became more creative and we caused them problems.
“In our last three games we’ve got seven goals but we’ve achieved nothing and we’ve got to make sure we keep going.”