The boys got the game plan off to a tee – Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick

Proud Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick hailed his players for executing their game plan to perfection in a “big win” over Championship leaders Leicester.

Boro usually play possession football but had to change their approach for the visit of the Foxes, who dominated the ball at the Riverside but failed to find a breakthrough against Carrick’s stubborn and organised side.

And after frustrating Enzo Maresca’s visitors, Boro snatched the win late on thanks to Sam Greenwood’s moment of magic. The Leeds loanee scored his fourth goal in six games with a stunning free-kick.

“It was a big win,” said delighted Carrick. “They are a really good team and we knew that.

“Individually, collectively, how they’re coached, they’re a very good team and it’s not an accident that they are where they are in the league.

“We showed a different side to ourselves today with a lot of the out-of-possession work. It was really good pressing and really good defensively. They test you, you have to close certain spaces for the whole game, you have to concentrate for the whole game and that was a major factor.

“The boys got the game plan off to a tee and actually, the few chances we did give away were from us giving the ball away, which we don’t normally do. That’s one of those things though.

“It was an immense effort and I’m so proud of the boys.”

Greenwood is proving himself to be a key player for Middlesbrough and Carrick said of his match winner: “I kind of had a feeling as he stepped up, I fancied him because it looked like it was set up just at the right spot for him.

“It’s a hell of a free-kick. There are not many people who can pull that off, but he’s got that in his locker consistently. It’s a real threat and a real weapon for us.”

Despite a second successive Championship defeat, with Ipswich now level on points, Leicester boss Maresca was not overly concerned and said his players paid the price for missed chances.

Jannik Vestergaard went close in the first half but was denied by a brilliant save from Seny Dieng, before City tried to turn the screw after the break. The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was when Kelechi Iheanacho hit a post 10 minutes from time, before Greenwood claimed the winner three minutes later.

Maresca said: “I think I have been quite clear, we created many chances and many situations where we should score but when you miss, miss, miss and they score a fantastic goal, that’s football.

“It’s a moment where you create but don’t take your chance and the opposite, they score a fantastic goal. It is what it is.

“To be honest I thought we were in control of the game, created five or six clear chances and many situations where we missed the last pass. The players are annoyed because we lost and it’s normal to be like that.”

Leicester will be without Harry Winks for their first game back after the international break against Watford after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.

Maresca said: “For sure Harry will be a big miss but for many games he’s been waiting for one more yellow.”