Date: 23rd February 2008 at 6:35pm
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Boro surrended a lead at Anfield in a thrilling league encounter, in which only a Fernando Torres treble fought off the visitor’s brave resistance.

Gareth Southgate made a couple of expected changes; Emmanuel Pogatetz shifting over to centre-back to partner David Wheater, with Jonathan Grounds coming in at left-back. Luke Young and Mark Schwarzer made up the back five.

The midfield quartet lined up as expected, with Stewart Downing and Gary O’Neil on the flanks, and Julio Arca and Fabio Rochemback in the middle.

The returning Tuncay Sanli partnered Jeremie Aliadiere up front.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez made just one change Alvaro Arbeloa coming in for the suspended Jamie Carragher.

The opening exchanges saw both sides find their feet in the game, with Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard having an early effort at goal after four minutes, with failed to trouble Schwarzer.

However, two minutes later the deadlock had been broken, and it was the visitors who were celebrating. Downing’s inswinging free-kick from the right was poorly defended by Liverpool’s zonal marking system. Several Boro players were played onside at the far post, and it was Tuncay who marked his return from injury with the opener.

It was several minutes before the home side began to regroup and recover from the shock of going behind. The players looked bemused and Anfield, for once, was rather quiet, with the exception of the travelling Teessiders.

In the 17th minute Boro had a chance to extend their lead, Aliadiere being denied by a good challenge from Arbeloa. On the break, Liverpool create themselves a chance for Dirk Kuyt, who blasts over.

As the game moved towards the half-hour mark, Liverpool began to look more composed on the ball and creative. Good link-up play in the 20th minute resulted in a crossing opportunity for Steve Finnan, who over-hit his delivery.

Three minutes later, Javier Mascherano pulls a shot wide after more decent build-up play. In the 27th minute, Ryan Babel had an effort at goal deflected behind, although nothing could come from the corner.

The hosts were starting to create more serious chances for themselves, and were beginning to look threatening for the first time in the game.

It wasn’t long before their persistence had been rewarded with an equaliser. Arca, the Boro skipper, inexplicably decided to head the ball back towards his keeper from a full twenty yards at least. Torres, lurking around as ever, latched onto the short ball before rounding Schwarzer and tapping the ball into an empty net.

It was a confident finish from the Spaniard, although ever such poor play from Boro to gift him the opportunity, and once you give a side of Liverpool’s quality an inch, they’ll take a mile.

And take a mile they did, when Torres fired them into the lead seconds later. In similar style to the equaliser he scored at The Riverside a number of months back, Torres picked up the ball on the edge of the box and fired goalwards.

His effort sizzled into Schwarzwer bottom right-hand corner, and there was nothing the Aussie could do to stop it. El Nino had single-handedly pulled Liverpool out of trouble, with a little help from Boro of course.

Four minutes after the latest goal, Aliadiere is booked for on Fabio Aurelio, the game’s first yellow card.

Less than a few minutes later, Boro had a wonderful opportunity to equalise, however instead of heading the ball for a sure second goal, Turkish Tuncay leans in with his hand and gives away a free-kick, which he is also booked for.

In the 38th minute, Boro have the ball in the back of the net once more, this time through Aliadiere, although the Frenchman is adjudged to have been offside.

On the stroke of half-time, Boro have another decent opportunity. Tuncay’s delivery to O’Neil was neat and promising, only for the Englishman to miss the target.


Liverpool begin the second period bright, with Gerrard’s shot being charged down by Pogatetz. Liverpool are now attacking their favoured Kop End.

In the 49th minute, a quick, flowing break from the hosts results in a Babel effort curling harmlessly wide of the post.

In the 52nd minute, Boro win a corner off of Finnan, however the set-piece is gathered by Pepe Reina before Wheater can cause any damage. Wheater is subsequently booked for a clash with the goalkeeper, who also picks up a yellow following a rather ugly confrontation.

In the 58th minute Gareth Southgate implements his first change of the game; Mido replacing O’Neil. A bold, attacking move by the Boro boss.

Minutes later and the game appears to be wrapped up, after another mistake-riddled Liverpool goal. A long ball forward from the back causes confusion between Wheater and Schwarzer, as Torres chases. The goalkeeper recklessly decides to come out and claim the ball on the edge of his box, only to end up losing it and gifting Torres an easy third.

A minute later, Rafa Benitez makes his first change of the game, replacing Babel with Yossi Benayoun.

In the 64th minute, Rochemback becomes the fourth Boro player to make it into the referee’s notebook after a foul on Torres.

It is now Boro’s turn to appear lost and confused, as that third goal appears to have knocked the wind out of them.

In the 69th minute, Schwarzer smartly denies Torres adding to his, and Liverpool’s, tally, with a nice stop.

Two minutes later, and Southgate introduces Brazilian striker Afonso Alves, to replace Tuncay. The Turk has had a decent return from a lengthy lay-off.

As Liverpool endeavour to look for a fourth, Kuyt is replaced by John Arne Riise.

In the 77th minute, a half-chance comes the way of Aliadiere, who fires over when decently placed.

In the 79th minute, Finnan is penalised for pulling back Alves. A free-kick is awarded in a dangerous position, and a booking is dished out to the right-back. Boro know they have to grab a goal back soon.

Rochemback’s delivery is deflected behind for a Boro corner, although nothing comes of the subsequent delivery.

In the 82nd minute, Downing brings an added tension to the finale by adding a second for Boro, after a good move from the visitors. Many would argue it is the least Boro deserved.

Three minutes later, the game is littered with an incident it didn’t want. Mascherano taunts Aliadiere and appears to pinch the striker, who reacts with an apparent slap on the Argentinian. Aliadiere is rightly dismissed for raising his hands, although Mascherano could also have gone too.

Luke Young adds to Boro’s problems with a late booking; that will be an automatic fine from the FA for five yellows in a single game.

In added time, a Gerrard free-kick hits the bar and is turned in by Benayoun, who is correctly adjudged to be in an offside position.

Crouch comes on for the hat-trick hero Torres.



7 Replies to “Liverpool 3-2 Middlesbro’”

  • Absolute howlers for their first and third goals … arca’s header on goal 1 + schwarzer coming miles off his line needlessly for goal 3 … best boro player? … probably downing again, i’d say

  • Rochemback would have to be my motm. Got stuck in when it was needed and his passing was great – espescially in the first half.

  • i thought the midfield were awesome up against some top class players … when the hell is alves going to get more of a chance than a few minutes here and there, though??

  • Thought you could have and should have nicked a point, but to be honest with defending like that for the first and third you probably didn’t deserve it .. that said why does Torres decide to have a great game against you !… Keep up the good work boro this may have ended a great run but Southgate is still steering your ship well away from the relegation zone..

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