DANIEL Farke has predicted Middlesbrough will be "main competitors" in the Championship promotion battle come the end of the season.
The Leeds United boss saw his side come out on top in a "wild game" against Boro at Elland Road on Saturday and part of the reason he was so delighted with the victory is the fact he rates Michael Carrick's side so highly.
“I expected a tough game for us and couldn't be happier and prouder of my boys,” said Farke after his side's 3-2 win.
“A third game in eight days against a very good side, Middlesbrough, I judge them as one of the main competitors for the top six positions.
"It was important to be brave, to press with intensity and perhaps even be a bit over emotional. It's always important you're fully committed off the ball. We created so many good situations and moments.”
Saturday's win was Leeds' seventh on the bounce at Elland Road but Boro certainly gave Farke's side a scare. The visitors took the lead through Emmanuel Latte Lath after just three minutes, and although Leeds then took complete control with three first half goals, Boro halved the deficit before the break thanks to a second from their striker.
Anfernee Dijksteel was sent off in the second half but even after going down to 10 men Boro could have snatched a point, with substitute Sammy Silvera hitting the post before Morgan Rogers had his rebound brilliantly blocked.
Farke said the manner of his side's first two goals - when diminutive figures Dan James and Crysencio Summerville scored with headers - showed how "greedy" his side were, but it was the relative calm of the second period that most pleased the home boss.
He said: "The goals were a sign of our will and how desperately greedy we were. Daniel James fully committed to win this [aerial] duel. The second goal more or less the same, Cree not known as the best header in this league but fully committed. It was top class in the first half.
“The only problem was we were a little over-ridden with emotion in possession and when you give so many moments away and it's transition, transition, transition against a side who punish little mistakes, and when you can't calm the game down then you can't have the energy to defending in detail in your own box.
"It was a wild game in the first half and probably every football fan must have enjoyed this game. I loved what we did but as a manager I liked the second half when we calmed everything down and didn't play with any mistakes – we missed a bit to bury the game, we had just one mistake when we gave a counter attack, but we were able to play it out with a monster block from Joe Rodon.
"This was the only situation I was a bit unhappy with. For me it was a priceless three points against a very good opponent.”