Middlesbrough vs Liverpool match report: Adam Lallana goals gets dominant Reds back on track with victory

Middlesbrough 0 Liverpool 3: Simon Mignolet was reinstated in goal and kept a clean sheet as Jurgen Klopp's side started to put their mini-blip behind them

Michael Walker
at the Riverside Stadium
Wednesday 14 December 2016 22:42 GMT
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Lallana was in sparkling form, scoring twice and registering an assist
Lallana was in sparkling form, scoring twice and registering an assist (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Liverpool avoided a drama morphing into a crisis with a controlled and comfortable victory over unambitious Middlesbrough. Jurgen Klopp had made the dramatic call of dropping under-scrutiny goalkeeper Loris Karius and replacing him with Simon Mignolet, but to Klopp’s pleasure and perhaps relief, this was all about Liverpool at the other end of the pitch.

Adam Lallana scored his fifth and sixth Premier League goals of the season, while Divock Origi made it five consecutive scoring appearances when he tapped in a Lallana cross to make it 2-0 on the hour.

The points and the goals lifted Liverpool above Arsenal into second place. It was an ideal way for Liverpool to prepare for next Monday’s Merseyside derby.

The win will also take some of the attention away from Karius. Mignolet made a couple of saves in the first half, but Boro are a cautious team. This had been a difficult place for Liverpool - it was a first win on Teesside since 2002 – but not tonight.

Mignolet was selected ahead of the under-fire Karius
Mignolet was selected ahead of the under-fire Karius (Getty)

Boro now face a nervy 90 minutes with Swansea here on Saturday.

Mignolet had become the club’s ‘League Cup keeper’. His last Premier League start was at Chelsea in September – a game Liverpool won 2-1. The Belgian has been known to make the odd error but had been solid at the beginning of this season.

As a predictably cagey opening unfolded, Karius may have reflected from the bench that this was an ideal game in which to play. Middlesbrough, the lowest scorers in the division, were unlikely to mount a bombardment.

Sure enough, it was almost 20 minutes before Boro produced a shot. It came from left back Fabio and Mignolet will have been glad that it was straight at him. He saved with comfort.

Three minutes later there was a dive to Mignolet’s left to grab a Ben Gibson header.

Yet while the focus fell understandably on Liverpool’s goalkeeping situation, once again Klopp felt forced to name three teenagers on bench – Woodburn (17), Ejaria (18) and Alexander-Arnold (19).

Origi doubled Liverpool's lead after being set up by Lallana
Origi doubled Liverpool's lead after being set up by Lallana (Getty)

Philippe Coutinho is the most high-profile absentee but with Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can also injured, Liverpool’s squad is stretched.

As the visitors probed without success through the first 28 minutes, it looked it. There was a lack of imagination.

Then, suddenly, two sharp passes later and Liverpool were 1-0 up. Sadio Mane started it with a smart turn 30 yards out. Mane’s pass found Nathaniel Clyne overlapping and the right back’s deep cross was met on the run by Lallana.

It was a fine goal and, having upped the tempo, Liverpool nearly got a second before the interval. This time Divock Origi was the supplier, feeding Mane from the centre circle on a rare breakaway – Middlesbrough had pushed up for once.

Mane struck a shot left-footed from 18 yards and it beat Victor Valdes but the ball came back off the far post. Origi, following up, had a try on the rebound but hit the side-netting.

In between, Mignolet had his his best moment, getting a strong hand to a fierce drive from Victor Fischer.

The result left Karanka's men hovering above the relegation zone
The result left Karanka's men hovering above the relegation zone (Getty)

The home side needed more of that, but less than a minute after the re-start, it was Valdes blocking from Mane. Calum Chambers then got his body in front of another Mane effort. This was the opposite of what the Riverside wanted.

But Liverpool were not stopping. Mane was in the thick of it and it seemed only a matter of time before it was 2-0. It was.

On the hour Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum exchanged quick passes before the Dutchman slid in Lallana behind the Boro defence. Lallana’s square pass into the middle was into the path of Origi and from six yards he could not miss. He didn’t.

Nine minutes later, the move was reversed as Lallana swept in the third from Origi. No drama.

Middlesbrough (4-1-4-1): Valdes; Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Fabio; Clayton (Leadbitter 56); Traore, De Roon, Forshaw, Fischer (Downing 56); Negredo (Rhodes 77).

Subs not used: Guzan, Bernardo, Nsue, Nugent.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Lallana (Lucas 82), Henderson, Wijnaldum (Ejaria 87); Mane, Origi (Alexander-Arnold 90+1), Firmino.

Subs not used: Karius, Woodburn, Moreno, Stewart.

Referee: J Moss

Attendance: 32,704

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