Norwich City went top of the Championship with their second consecutive 1-0 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday, and Daniel Farke was understandably impressed by what he saw.
Middlesbrough hadn’t been beaten since the first day of the season when they lost 1-0 to Watford at Vicarage Road, so to come away from the north east with three points and a clean sheet naturally had the boss in high spirits.
“It was important to make this game our game, without any doubt,” he told the club's official website “It says a lot about the size of the task that Middlesbrough is a tough place to go because they were eight games unbeaten in all competitions and in the last seven games they’d conceded just one goal.
“To travel back with three points and a clean sheet feels massive. You have to accept the style of Middlesbrough. They play men against men and you have to win the physical battles in the offense and defence.
“No other teams have won points against them here this season, so we’re pretty pleased we were capable of handling this.”
Middlesbrough were awarded a penalty early in the second half that Marcus Tavernier scored, albeit illegally. Referee Tony Harrington spotted that Tavernier had kicked the ball twice and ruled the goal out.
“I haven’t watched them back that carefully, but both scenes looked a bit clumsy, if I’m honest,” Farke said, referring to both penalties. “For the penalty against us, we lost the ball unnecessarily. Rupp made a great block in our box which deserved us to go away with a clean sheet, but we gave away the penalty.
“Their offensive players were more or less escaping away from our goal. Thank God it wasn’t a goal.
“On the other hand, it was a deserved penalty for us. Max was on the run away from the box, so a bit unnecessary, but both penalties were fair. Thank God Teemu kept his cool and was ice cold with his finish.
“It was crucial to use that situation against a side it’s so difficult to create chances against. We had quite a few in the first half - good shooting situations for Emi Buendia, Lukas Rupp and Marco Stiepermann.
“In the second half, Emi was almost on the end of a nice cross from Przemyslaw Placheta. I got the feeling we should have scored out of these situations, but if not, you have to use the penalty and we did.
“We defended everything with concentration and for that, it’s a big, big win for us.”
City defended resolutely as the second half went on, Grant Hanley in particular refusing to be beaten in the air with a number of clearances.
“They tried everything in order to change the game but we didn’t allow them many chances,” Farke said. “It was difficult because they played many long balls, brought many offensive players in and tried everything.
“I was pleased with our reaction. It was good game management in the last minutes.”
Look at the Championship table at the time of writing and you’ll see the Canaries on top of it, but Daniel Farke is the last person to get carried away by such statistics at this stage of the season.
“To be top of the league is always good for the mood, the confidence and the dressing room, but it’s not important where you are after 12 games, just where you are after 46 games,” he said.
“What is important is that we are there with many points already - that leaves us in a good position to build on.
“Sadly, we have many injuries at the moment and it didn’t look great today with Jordan, so we’ll have to wait for the assessment, but it’s important that during this difficult time you collect many points.”