Kemar Roofe said Leeds United had taken a step in the right direction “with a bit of frustration” after his hotly-contested goal snatched a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.
Roofe rescued Leeds from defeat on Saturday by handling the ball into the net eight minutes from time but the striker refused to be satisfied with the result after seeing Marcelo Bielsa’s side dominate at Elland Road.
United controlled the play as they fought to recover from Jack Robinson’s 11th-minute header but it took Roofe’s late intervention - a finish with his right forearm as a Mateusz Klich shot swept across goal - to earn a point and keep Leeds in the Championship’s automatic promotion places.
His controversial effort sparked angry protests from Forest’s players but referee Geoff Eltringham allowed the goal to stand and both Roofe and Bielsa claimed afterwards that Leeds had deserved more than a draw.
“It's one point in the right direction, with a bit of frustration,” Roofe admitted. “It was a tough game and they’re a good team. They’re one of the favourites to go up.
“They managed to get an early goal and then they tried to manage the game, taking time when the ball went out and with all the set pieces which is understandable but a bit frustrating. But we ground it out and managed to get a result.
“That's one of our strengths. We’ll never give up and even if we are behind we’ll keep grinding it out.”
Leeds have lost just twice in the Championship under Bielsa and hold second place in the table but Roofe’s goal was the focus at the end of a televised game amid accusations that the forward had deliberately used his hand to turn in Klich’s strike.
“It got shot across the box really quickly and it was just instinct,” Roofe said. “I picked my knee up and my balance was naturally to have my arm down by my side. It hit my arm instead of my knee.
“It is what it is. What do you want me to do? Run up to the referee and say it shouldn't be allowed? It's up to the referee to make that decision. I'm just there to play the game.”
Forest manager Aitor Karanka described the handball as “clear”, saying it was “lucky the cameras were here and everybody could see”, but Bielsa played down suggestions that Roofe had cheated.
“I can't judge because I haven't seen it,” Bielsa said. “If we talk about what is legal and illegal we also have to talk about intentions.
“To say that a player cheated, we need to be certain but I never think violation of the rules is something we should praise
“From where I was, I didn’t see a handball. I imagine that the referee didn’t see it either. If you say there was a handball, if it wasn’t a legitimate goal, I wouldn’t be satisfied that they (the officials) accepted it.”
Roofe’s goal was his sixth of the season and his second in three games since returning from a calf injury.
The forward is almost halfway towards matching his total for last term and he said: “I’m doing all right but it's not about me.
“It's about getting the three points for the team and unfortunately we didn't do that. But a point is still good.”