After The Match 


Liverpool-Middlesbrough 2-1 (0-0)      23.8.08                     PL
Goals: Carragher (85), Gerrard (94)          Mido (70)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Dossena, Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Alonso, Kuyt, Benayoun, Torres, Keane
Subs: Babel (Benayoun 65), Aurelio (Dossena 75),
El Zhar (Arbeloa 83)
Not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Ngog, Plessis
Yellow: Arbeloa (26), Keane (78)              Mido (79)
Red: None
Referee: Mike Riley
Attendance: 43.168
Shots on target: 5-4
Shots off target: 11-4
Blocked shots: 5-1
Fouls conceded: 11-15
Corners: 14-3
Offsides: 2-2
Possession: 61.9-38.1
Yellow: 2-1

HEADLINES "The team showed its winning mentality."
Rafael Benitez

2308: Rafa: Comeback shows home progress
2308: Southgate proud of players
2308: Reds stage remarkable recovery


Gerrard and Kuyt celebrate a dramatic victory at Anfield.
(Photo: Empics)

Rafa: Comeback shows
home progress

By Jimmy Rice at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez praised the spirit of his players following their remarkable comeback against Middlesbrough claiming Liverpool would not have taken all three points in similar circumstances last term.

The Reds trailed 1-0 with five minutes remaining before Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard saved the day with unstoppable strikes at the Kop end.

Benitez said: "Carragher was amazing, because normally he isn't a great finisher. After that Gerrard showed his quality too even though he isn't 100 per cent fit he can change games.

"The team showed its winning mentality. This is the kind of determination we want to see for the rest of the season.

"Last season we were drawing or losing these kind of games at home, so it was important that we won. It sends a positive message to the fans, who were maybe thinking about last season.

"We did it the hard way. I was pleased in the first 15 minutes because we were creating chances but after that we did not play well and they were controlling our attacks.

"They scored a good goal and were on top of us. I thought it would be difficult but we changed we played with three defenders and that was the key."

Carragher's goal on 85 minutes took a wicked deflection off Emanuel Pogatetz, with some news agencies crediting the 'Boro man with an OG.

Benitez added: "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."

Southgate proud of players

Sky Sports

Gareth Southgate could only praise his Middlesbrough players after they came so close to causing a shock against Liverpool at Anfield.

Boro took the lead with 20 minutes to go and appeared to be on course for their first win at Liverpool for more than 30 years.

But two goals in the last six minutes courtesy of a Jamie Carragher deflected effort and a wonderful Steven Gerrard strike, meant the Teessiders went home with nothing.

"I am immensely proud, it would be easy to pick holes in the mistakes which led to the second goal but they have given absolutely everything," he told Sky Sports.

"They have given a good account of themselves against one of the top teams in the country and I have said they have got to leave here with their heads held high.

"They have got to take belief after that performance as we pushed Liverpool all the way and to be honest we would have been disappointed to come off the field with a point the way the game went so to get that result is cruel for them but we have to take the result on the chin and we will come back stronger from it."

Southgate was pleased with how his side matched up to Liverpool throughout and caused them problems.

"We have got people in the team that can score goals and we had to be organised defensively and they have worked their socks off and stuck to their plan of keeping their shape as you can't go gung-ho at a place like Liverpool," he continued.

"We had chances even at 1-1 to even win the game and it hasn't happened for us and we need to learn form the last ten minutes but I am not going to be critical as they were fantastic today."

The Boro boss was also pleased with the impact of sub Mido, who looked like scoring the winner two weeks in a row.

"It was a great finish, he had a good impact on the game," said Southgate.

"He gave them problems in the air and we were able to play through them - I am delighted for him, he worked his socks off in the summer and it shows the importance of a strong squad, we lost the keeper [Brad Jones] before kick-off and it would be hard for me to leave anyone out of the side at the moment as they are playing so well."

Reds stage remarkable recovery

By Julian Segal - Setanta Sports

Liverpool cruelly snatched all three points from this pulsating match through a stunning injury-time strike by Steven Gerrard, to leave a dejected Gareth Southgate and Middlesbrough team reflecting on what could so easily have been a monumental win at Anfield.

Jamie Carragher and Gerrard turned the match on its head in the closing stages after Mido handed Boro an unlikely lead.

A vast banner held aloft in the Spion Kop pre-match welcomed a Liverpool side that included Robbie Keane, making his home debut following his large money move from Tottenham in the close season. Both teams were hoping to build on promising starts to the 2008-2009 campaign, Liverpool defeating Sunderland and Boro beating Tottenham in the season's opener.

Middlesborough were dealt something of a blow in the pre-match warm up when keeper Brad Jones injured himself, thus handing a start to the young Ross Turnbull for what proved to be a baptism of fire.

Liverpool predictably came tearing out of the blocks and Turnbull was called into action as early as the fourth minute, a smart save denying Dirk Kuyt who shot from the edge of the box following fine set-up play from Torres. Keane also proved to be something of a thorn in the Boro side for much of the first half and, despite skewing a shot wide of Turnbull's goal early on, he continued to buzz around the Middlesborough box like a wasp at a picnic.

A clash of heads between the impressive Andrea Dosenna and Jeremie Aliadiere on 11 minutes saw a slight hiatus in play and resulted in the latter sporting a chunky head bandage for the rest of the game, but on resumption of play, Boro started to threaten at the other end. On 13 minutes, Jose Reina was forced into a fine save from a speculative long-range Andy Taylor effort and, minutes later, Tuncay almost set Afonso Alves through on-goal but was denied by an incorrect offside flag raised prematurely by the assistant referee.

Liverpool continued on the front-foot for much of the first half Turnbull again saving well from a dangerous Dossena cross and Keane narrowly failing to latch on to a neat through ball from the Italian full back. Gerrard, alert as ever, curled a shot agonisingly over Turnbull's crossbar just after the half-hour but it was the Middlesborough defence who deserved most of the plaudits in the first half, in particular Robert Huth, David Wheater and Emanuel Pogatetz who continuously snuffed out the threat of Torres and Keane. Indeed, Pogatetz prevented what would have been a certain Liverpool goal by Torres, the Spanish striker's effort crashing off his back and flying wide of the Boro goal.

Going forward, the visitors lacked any real ingenuity, although Tuncay almost got his head to a Stewart Downing cross on 24 minutes, Downing himself flashing a shot across the face of goal ten minutes later and Gary O'Neil having a dubious penalty appeal waved away just before half-time following a clumsy spot of defending by Martin Skrtel.

Into the second half and it was more of the same, the home side in the ascendency and the likes of Huth continuing to defy them with some stoic defending. On 49 minutes a delightfully floated ball by Keane almost saw Torres connect with it but for a despairing dive by Huth, which saw the large German receive a kick in the windpipe for his troubles.

However, as Liverpool continued to huff and puff, it was Middlesbrough who grew in confidence, on 52 minutes Tuncay threading a delightful through-ball to Alves, who could not quite force a shot on goal.

However, it was manager Gareth Southgate who swung the match on the hour mark with an inspired substitution. Mido was brought on to replace the ineffectual Alves and just two minutes after his introduction, the former Spurs striker, who scored against his former side to seal the win on the opening day of the season and might have considered himself unlucky not to have started this match, tore down the left-hand side of the pitch and delivered a cross to Tuncay. A sublime piece of skill in turning his defender saw Tuncay cursing his luck as he could do no more than shoot straight at Reina.

Liverpool answered with a fantastic effort of their own, Gerrard swinging a free kick in from the edge of the area that was once again saved smartly by Turnbull but on 70 minutes the deadlock was broken. Mido, picking up the ball from Aliadiere, smashed an unstoppable low angled drive into the bottom corner of the Liverpool net leaving the crowd gasping in shock.

A series of substitutions from an increasingly agitated Benitez seemed to have little effect, Liverpool seemingly unable to break the away side down, yet with the final whistle looming, fate was to deal Boro a cruel blow, as Carragher, picking up the ball just outside the area, smashed a shot goalwards only to see it fly into the net of the leg of the oh so unlucky Pogatetz.

Then, with injury time almost up, who else but Gerrard, soon after having a free kick saved, managed to work a small amount of space inside the Boro box to let fly a rasping shot that gave Turnbull no chance whatsoever to seal this most unlikely of results.

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Thor Zakariassen