Barclays Premier League – February 23rd 2008 – Result
|Liverpool 3||Middlesbrough 2|
|Torres 28, 29, 61||Sanli 9, Downing 83|
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: “I was really happy with the performance. I think coming after a Champions League game the most important thing was to win, but we are now in the top four. We are in a good position. After we scored the third goal on the counter attack you could see that we could score more, but they put us under a bit of pressure because they have some good players in attack. The key for us was to win and we won.
“Fernando was really aware and ready and scored when they made mistakes. He has scored 21 goals this season which is really good in his first season with the club and he is enjoying his time here. It’s not easy for a foreign player to come into the English league and settle straight away in his first year, but he has done that so well.
“He has proved to be a great signing. Last summer we had 10 names we were considering, then it was down to three. But we went for Fernando because he was hungry and had the style to handle the Premier League. We knew that he was a player with power and pace, he can kill defenders with his pace. It’s always difficult to score more than 20 goals, but he has done it in his first season, well before the end of the campaign. Everything is possible now for him as he progresses in the game here.
“I didn’t have a target in mind for him, the main thing for a striker is to score goals, but they also need to give assists and create space for the other players. Torres’ work rate is good and everything is positive now for him and for the club.”
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate: “We feel we have given Liverpool a hell of a game and we did enough, we felt, to have taken something from the match. It shows the progress that we have made because we are disappointed not to have got something out of the game. We win and lose together and that is why we have been on such a good run. We have pushed a top side on their own turf right to the end.
“We had the belief coming here that we could get something out of the game and we nearly did, but the sending-off came when we looked to have turned the tide with our second goal. An equaliser after that was always unlikely. That is a lesson for Jeremie (Alladiere, sent off for raising his hands to Mascherano). He is young and will learn from that. He hardly floored the opponent but you have to accept in the modern game that if you do something like that, and it is in front of a young referee, you will be sent off. The biggest punishment for him will be missing three games and knowing we now have plenty of competition for forward positions.
“There were spells in the game when Liverpool were edgy and we should have been able to take advantage of that, but we have several young players who are very down because they felt they had done well. We leave here, though, with plenty of positives.”
Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 17 Arbeloa, 4 Hyypia, 12 Aurelio, 18 Kuyt (6 Riise, 73), 21 Lucas, 20 Mascherano, 19 Babel (11 Benayoun, 62), 8 Gerrard, 9 Torres (15 Crouch, 90)
Unused subs: 40 Martin, 37 Skrtel
Bookings: Reina 54, Finnan 79
Goals: Torres 28, 29, 61
Middlesbrough: 1 Schwarzer, 2 Young, 31 Wheater, 40 Grounds, 6 Pogatetz, 4 O’Neil (9 Mido, 59), 10 Rochemback, 3 Arca, 19 Downing, 11 Aliadiere, 17 Sanli (12 Alves, 69)
Unused subs: 21 Turnbull, 7 Boateng, 38 Hines
Bookings: Aliadiere 34, Sanli 35, Wheater 53, Rochemback 63, Young 90
Sent off: Aliadiere 85
Goals: Sanli 9, Downing 83
BBC Stats: (Liverpool – Middlesbrough)
Possession: 57% – 43%
Shots on target: 8 – 3
Shots off target: 5 – 3
Corners: 6 – 2
Fouls: 8 – 11
Referee: Lee Mason