JONATHAN WOODGATE admits Middlesbrough weren’t good enough to stop Leeds United from cruising to a 4-0 win at Elland Road this afternoon.

Woodgate’s return to his former club turned in to a bit of a nightmare after Marcelo Biesla’s rampant side hit top spot courtesy of goals from Patrick Bamford, Mateusz Klich and Helder Costa.

Injury-hit Middlesbrough are still just a point above the relegation zone and desperate for a turn of fortunes, with Woodgate revealing Britt Assombalonga and Paddy McNair should not have even been on the pitch.

In the end he had to hand debuts to youngsters Ben Liddle and Tyrone O’Neill as well as introduced Stephen Walker from the bench too, such are his lack of options.

Woodgate said: “Leeds are a very good team, a really, really good team, probably the best team in the Championship. The lads kept on going until the end working as hard as they can. We just weren't good enough on the day.

“Positives, there were eight academy players in the matchday squad. Tyrone O'Neill coming on Ben Liddle coming on. We're disappointed because you don't want to get beat but they're a good team.

“Try to be positive with them, I can’t knock their effort, they just weren’t good enough on the day. Like I said Leeds are a top team, coached by a top, top manager.”

Woodgate’s return to Leeds could not have gone much worse. It was the heaviest defeat suffered against the Whites since 1978’s 5-0 drubbing at the same venue.

Leeds were rewarded for a blistering start within three minutes of the first whistle with the first goal. Things got worse from there on in.

Bamford’s initial header was not dealt with properly by goalkeeper Aynsley Pears and when the forward was given a second invitation he headed over the line.

Middlesbrough conceded far too much possession and never looked like threatening the Leeds goal and the crucial second came seconds before the break and deep into stoppage-time.

Midfielder Klich was picked out on the edge of the area unmarked and when his shot deflected off Daniel Ayala the ball dropped over Pears to effectively put the game safe with 45 minutes to play.

Worse was to come after the break as Middlesbrough struggled to get anywhere near the Leeds goal, while the hosts carved them open regularly.

The third arrived in the 67th minute when Costa was allowed to waltz through the Middlesbrough defence to fire beyond Pears.

And six minutes later Klich added his second when he made the most of the space he was afforded on the edge of the area by curling beautifully into the top corner.

Woodgate said: “The second was a big turning point, it does become difficult when you’re 2-0 down going into half-time and it’s difficult to get back in the game but they gave me everything they had.

“Britt was really 50/50 to play, he tried his best but he’s got a bad ankle. Paddy McNair, the squad is really thin like I’ve said. They wanted to play and wanted to give everything.”

Asked if Middlesbrough will strengthen in January, he replied: “Without a doubt we need to do business in January, the chairman will be on the same page as me on that one.”

LEEDS UNITED United (3-5-2): Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper; Costa (Alioski 76), Klich, Phillips (Berardi 83), Dallas, Harrison; Hernandez, Bamford (Nketiah 79). Subs (not used): Miazek, Douglas, Clarke, Stevens⁣.

MIDDLESBROUGH (5-3-2): Pears; Howson, McNair, Ayala, Fry, Bola; Saville, Wing (Liddle 69), Tavernier; Fletcher (Walker 90), Assombalonga (O’Neill 76). Subs (not used): Mejias (gk), Wood, Reading, Clayton.