Barclays Premier League, Result
Anfield, Saturday August 23rd 2008
Liverpool 2 (Carragher, Gerrard) – Middlesborough 1 (Mido)
Liverpool’s boss Rafael Benitez: “We did it the hard way. I was very pleased with the first 10 or 15 minutes because we were creating chances, but after that it was a little bit ugly; we did not play well and they were controlling our attacks. In the second half, they scored a good goal and were on top of us and we had to throw people forward. I thought it would be difficult but we changed – we played with three defenders and that was the key.
“Last season we drew far too many games at Anfield. But this time we have sent out a message that in such situations we can win the game. We have winners here.
“The team showed an intensity and mentality we want to see. Last year we were losing or drawing these types of games and we have to win them. Our fans were quiet before we scored and they were thinking about last season, but in the end we showed a winning mentality and so maybe this will send a positive message to the fans. This is the kind of determination we want to see for the rest of the season.”
On the two Reds goalscorers, captain and vice-captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher: “We know Steve is not 100 percent fit but he showed his quality to win the game. Carragher was amazing, because normally he isn’t a great finisher. After that Gerrard showed his quality too; even though he isn’t 100 percent fit he can change games.
On whether Carra’s goal should be credited as an own goal: “I think Carra will claim it. Sami was joking with him, saying it was a deflection, but at the end of the day we won and that’s the most important thing.”
Reds captain Steven Gerrard: “When you are kicking towards that Kop end you can feel them helping you and helping the team. It was a great feeling. This is what we play the game for, the roof came off the place at the end. The fans were patient with us even though things didn’t always go how we wanted. Middlesbrough played well and maybe deserved something from the game, but we showed character and kept going until the end.
“We have been working on having a positive mentality and trying to kill off the lesser teams and we finally got the breakthrough thanks to Jamie Carragher. Yes, I was surprised because he doesn’t get many, but it was a good shot even though it got a deflection.”
On his own fitness following a recent groin injury sustained during pre-season: “I would say I am only about 70 or 80 percent at the moment but I am working hard on the training ground to get to the level I want to be at.”
Liverpool forward Robbie Keane: “Football is about winning, it doesn’t matter how well you play so long as you come off the pitch having picked up the points. When you don’t play as well as you know you can but you are still getting results then that is a sign of a good team. When we do start playing well we’re confident we’ll keep getting the points on the board to make sure we are in the mix at the top of the table.
On whether that Carra equaliser should be credited to the vice-captain or to ‘Boro’s Emanuel Pogatetz: “Well if I’d had the shot I’d be claiming it that’s for sure. It was on target so once you’ve got the strike on target that’s all that matters. Who knows whether it would have gone in directly, but it was very important that we got that goal at that moment and it set us up nicely for a late charge with Stevie once again coming up with a great goal.
“It was nice to play my first competitive game at Anfield but at the end of the day the most important thing was to win. It doesn’t matter whether it’s my first game here or not, it’s about winning and I’ve settled in well now so the match was all about getting three points on the board and we managed to do that.
“It was a frustrating game but they made it hard for us and you have to give credit to Middlesbrough. A lot of teams are going to come to Anfield and make it hard for us and get people behind the ball and that’s what they did. They caught us on the break and it was a good strike from Mido, but I thought we showed a lot of character to get back into the game. That’s what top teams do and we showed that desire with the two late goals.
On his partnership with Fernando Torres: “I think we worked well today and I really enjoyed the game. Obviously winning the match makes you happy but in terms of how we linked up I thought we played well together and hopefully there will be more to come from us as a strike partnership. I’m not too concerned about getting that first goal. People keep going on about it and seem more bothered about it than me. I know it’ll come and as long as the team is winning that’s the most important thing for everyone involved. We’ve got two wins out of two in the league and that’s all you can ask for.”
Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate: “That was hard to take. The players are heartbroken in the dressing room. I’m heartbroken for the lads, because we’ve given everything and deserved more, we certainly deserved a point. We’re incredibly down because we would have been disappointed with a point, but I’ve got to look at the bigger picture.
“We’ve given two good performances against two top teams and that’s given me a lot of belief and the players have got to believe. They didn’t deserve the blow they got at the end. Their equaliser was a freak, and we should have been able to see out the game even at 1-1, but I have told them that they can leave Anfield with their heads high.
“We showed away from home, against a top team, we can be disciplined and cause problems with our counter-attacks.”
“We had no fear of Liverpool. The improvement from 12 months ago is light years. Once they got the equaliser maybe an element of fatigue and a desire to protect what we had rebounded on the players.”
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa (El Zhar 83), Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena (Aurelio 75), Kuyt, Gerrard, Alonso, Benayoun (Babel 65), Keane, Torres
Unused subs: Cavalieri, Agger, Ngog, Plessis
Booked: Arbeloa, Keane
Goals: Carragher 86, Gerrard 90
Middlesbrough: Turnbull, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, Taylor (Hoyte 75), Aliadiere, O’Neil, Shawky, Downing, Alves (Mido 60), Sanli (Digard 87)
Unused subs: Emnes, Adam Johnson, Williams
Goals: Mido 70
Referee: Mike Riley (Yorkshire)