Marten de Roon was full of praise for Boro captain Grant Leadbitter after FA Cup third round victory against Sheffield Wednesday.
The midfield duo were both on the scoresheet, either side of Alvaro Negredo in Sunday's 3-0 win.
De Roon says Leadbitter led by example in a clinical second half performance from the Teessiders.
"Grant is coming back from a long injury, and that can be hard," he said.
"Today he scored a great goal, and I said to him at full-time that's two goals in two starts now.
"He's our captain and is so important for us. I'm sure he will play a lot of matches going forward."
The midfielder says Boro stepped up in the second half on Sunday after a slow start.
"From the first minute, you have to show that you're the Premier League team, you're the better team, and we didn't do that," De Roon said.
"We let them have too much of the ball, and they were better in the tackles and the duels.
"At half-time the gaffer said something about it and we said to each other - it wasn't satisfying at all and we had to step up.
"I think the second half we did. Even after the sending off we showed we have a really good team spirit."
"Now we have to make sure in our next game we do it from the beginning to the end instead of 45 or 60 minutes."