Jonathan Woodgate has no doubts that Leeds are the best team in the Championship. The former Leeds defender saw his Middlesbrough side outclassed at Elland Road.
Two goals from Mateusz Klich and one each from Patrick Bamford and Hélder Costa sealed a fifth straight win for Leeds, who returned to the top of the table – at least until West Brom visit Preston on Monday.
The Teessiders remain a point above the relegation places. Woodgate said: “Leeds are a really, really good team – the best in the Championship, without a doubt. But credit to my players. They kept going until the very end. The positives are that we had eight academy lads in the squad.
“Conceding so early was a killer for us and then their second was a turning point. But they gave me everything they had. We had players who are carrying injuries but they want to play and want to give everything. We’ve got to remain positive. I can’t knock their effort. We just came up against a top team.”
Leeds started at full pelt and Bamford, once of Boro, opened the scoring after three minutes.
His initial header was kept out by Aynsley Pears but he made no mistake with a second attempt.
Leeds dominated the rest of the half but had to wait until stoppage time for Klich to double their lead, the Pole’s effort taking a nick off a defender. That crucial second gave the hosts breathing space and they came out in ruthless mode after the interval.
After some close chances Costa made it 3-0 when he rifled home from the edge of the area in the 67th minute and Klich saved the best until last when he curled home a superb shot with 17 minutes left.
Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds manager, said: “We defended very well. There was a moment in the middle of the first half when Middlesbrough created a lot of chances.
“We recovered the ball fast but they had two good strikers and those two players didn’t have an impact on the match. Maybe it’s because we recovered the ball quickly and they didn’t have many balls.”
Bielsa remains coy on their chances of promotion at what is still an early juncture in the season.
“It is important [to be top now] but there is a long way forward. We have to give some value to the current position because in a league like this, the future is built match by match.
“But the most important is the regularity in every match to make a difference. We cannot talk about regularity if we don’t let the league go more forward. You have to analyse how you win every match.”