Kickoff starts at the Riverside Stadium, home side Middlesborough entertaining Liverpool who is looking for an away win and the first open play goal away from home. Rafa Benitez lined up Steven Gerrard along side Xabi Alonso in the middle, while Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzales roam the flanks. Craig Bellamy was chosen to partner Dirk Kuyt in front while Hyppia was dropped for Daniel Agger.
It was a slow start with Boro winning the toss. Liverpool coming into this game knowing that with a win will give them 20 points will take them to eighth place above Wigan who will play tomorrow and Reading who has already see off Charlton.
Liverpool dominated the possession of the entire game, but Boro defence stands tall to deny Liverpool. Mark Gonzalez curled a 21st-minute cross on to the roof of Mark Schwarzer’s net but his side should have been in front seconds later when, after Craig Bellamy had chested down Steven Gerrard’s raking pass, Dirk Kuyt fired wide.
Liverpool worked a promising opening when Jermaine Pennant laid off Bellamy’s ball to Xabi Alonso, but he blazed his shot high over as the red shirts descended on him. Schwarzer was then called upon twice in quick succession as the Reds started to find their feet.
Boro’s goalkeeper got down well at the foot of his left post to turn away Pennant’s 38th-minute shot on the turn, and then had his hands warmed by John Arne Riise’s long range shot seconds later.
Second half saw Liverpool stepping up a gear, with a clear claim for a penalty at 51st minute, when Kuyt was brought down by Boateng just inside the penalty area, the referee denied the claim. A minute later at the other end, Yakubu dropped his shoulder and went past Carragher, and square the ball across to Morrison. Morrison took the ball in and chipped a lovely cross towards Euell. Reina saved Euell’s close range header and the ball skipped off Yakubu’s feet.
The save from Reina and the missed control from Yakubu nearly proved to be vital when Pennant sent a cross into the box. The entire Boro’s backline gave up the cross, but Kuyt turned the cross in from the byline and reached Bellamy’s head. Robert Huth made a decisive block with his head.
At the hour mark, Agger took upon himself and tried to win the game for Liverpool with a scorching shot with his right leg. Schwarzer made a flying save to deny Agger’s thunderous effort. And the Australian came to the rescue once again after 68 minutes, getting down well to keep out Gonzalez’s volley from Gerrard’s cross.
At the 76th minute, Peter Crouch was sent in for Kuyt, and nearly made his mark when his header was denied by Woodgate on the line. Gonzales was sent free on the left and lobbed in a deep cross, Crouch climbed and beat Huth to direct his header across Schwarzer. Woodgate tracked back and send the header out of play from the goal line, with Bellamy lurking next to him.
The Reds dominated the possession throughout the entire game. The game was a total one sided affair with Reds recording 56% of the possessions, 17 shots on goal and 12 corners. Reina was a spectator throughout most of the game and Schwarzer was truly tested on a handful of occasion.
The stubborn Boro has made the game looked stale, and with lack of confidence and team spirit, the Reds looked very unconvincing. The only positive note is clean sheets for both team.