Gerrard and Kuyt celebrate a dramatic victory at Anfield.
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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,"
"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
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
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
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
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
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.