Rafael Benitez was left fuming yet again by another
disappointing Liverpool display against Middlesbrough
that has further damaged their hopes of claiming fourth
spot in the Premiership.
Even word from Craven Cottage that Everton were losing
to Fulham could not inspire the sort of Liverpool
display against Boro that would have cut the points gap.
And the 1-1 draw was of more use to Boro, who, claimed
manager Steve McClaren, are "in pole position for Europe
But Benitez's face mirrored the angry one seen last
weekend when his side lost at Crystal Palace.
He said: "I am very unhappy, very frustrated because the
result is not good. The positives are that we have one
more point but one less game and we saw a fantastic goal
from Steven Gerrard.
"But we only played to our potential for 20 minutes in
the second half. The rest of the game was stop-start
with bookings, free-kicks and delays.
"That is why I am unhappy. I honestly don't know why we
cannot play well after a European game. There will have
to be lots of changes for next season."
Liverpool now face Chelsea on Tuesday in the second leg
of their Champions League semi-final, the tie poised at
0-0 with a final in Istanbul next month the prize.
Benitez added: "I promise it will be a different game on
Tuesday, a different kind of game and I hope to see far
more than we showed this time.
"I made changes but we had 11 good players out there,
and thankfully we have no more injury concerns.
"But games like this are always very difficult for us.
It always seems to happen after a Champions League game
and we need to change for the future.
"This is the third time recently we have failed to take
advantage of an Everton slip-up. We knew they were
losing at half-time."
of Euro spot
By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren believes his side
are in "pole position" to qualify for Europe after their
1-1 draw with Liverpool.
The point at Anfield consolidated Middlesbrough's spot
in seventh place and the final Uefa Cup berth.
McClaren hailed his side's performance in the draw and
he believes it will go a long way to securing European
qualification for the club.
"For the first half our performance was outstanding,
probably the best ever at Anfield for me," beamed
"We defended well, scored a good goal and deserved to be
ahead at the break.
"We expected an onslaught and that is what we got, but
it took a wonder goal to stop us and once we got a grip
after that we were in control.
"We had five across the middle and could have caught
them on the break again.
"We are now in pole position for Europe. Everybody in
our dressing room really wants it and they are showing a
great attitude and determination.
"It was a fantastic display by them all."
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool's UEFA Champions League hopes took another
blow after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard struck in the second
half with a spectacular goal to cancel out Szilard
Nemeth's early opener and deny Middlesbrough all three
The draw leaves Liverpool three points behind Everton in
the race for a Champions League spot, while
Middlesbrough remain on course for Europe by
consolidating their position in seventh spot.
Middlesbrough made a dream start to the game breaking
the deadlock after just four minutes in their first
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink laid the ball into the path of
Szilard Nemeth and the Slovakian striker easily held off
Mauricio Pellegrino before curling his shot beyond Jerzy
Liverpool were enjoying plenty of possession, but were
lacking a cutting edge in attack with Harry Kewell and
Fernando Morientes, failing to trouble the Middlesbrough
The home side came close to equalising on 19 minutes
when John Arne Riise rose above Boro keeper Brad Jones
to meet Antonio Nunez's right-wing cross and was unlucky
to see his header fly over the crossbar.
The Norwegian looked the most likely to score for
Liverpool and he forced Jones into a save on 28 minutes
with a fierce volley from the edge of the box, which the
keeper spilled and was then relieved to see the
Middlesbrough defence clear to safety.
Riise tried his luck again with another long-range
volley on 31 minutes which flew just wide of the target.
Middlesbrough were happy to sit back and try and hit
Liverpool on the break and Doriva saw a dangerous shot
from the edge of the box deflected over the top on 35
From the resulting corner Liverpool had a lucky escape
when Franck Queudrue flicked Boudewijn Zenden's corner
right across the six-yard box and the ball bounced off
Pellegrino before being collected by Dudek.
Jamie Carragher came to Liverpool's rescue three minutes
before the break when Nemeth beat the Liverpool offside
trap to race clear on goal, but Carragher got back in
time to prevent the Slovakian's cross reaching the
unmarked Hasselbaink in front of goal.
Liverpool had a half chance a minute before half time
when Kewell got to the byline and cut the ball back to
Nunez who hit his shot into the side-netting.
The home side came out for the second half in determined
fashion and should have drawn level right after the
restart when Morientes unmarked got on the end of Xabi
Alonso's inviting cross from the right, but the Spanish
international knocked his header wide of the target.
Half time substitute Luis Garcia came close to scoring
on 49 minutes with his first touch of the game when he
got on the end of Steve Finnan's cross to power a header
goalwards which Jones did well to palm over the
Liverpool did draw level on 52 minutes with a
spectacular long-range strike and goal of the season
contender from Gerrard.
There looked to be very little danger for Middlesbrough
when Gerrard picked the ball up fully 30 yards, but on
the half volley the Liverpool skipper sent in a superb
swerving shot which flew past Jones and into the top
corner to bring the home crowd to life.
Liverpool really had the bit between their teeth and Ugo
Ehiogu got in a vital challenge to prevent Kewell
heading Alonso's cross into the net.
From the resulting corner the ball broke to Riise wide
on the left and he sent in a superb cross which
Morientes flicked just wide of the far post.
Kewell twice called his compatriot Jones into the action
just after the hour mark with his first shot from 30
yards being spilled by Jones and then two minutes later
the keeper batted away his powerful shot from inside the
box round the post.
From the resulting corner Garcia wasted a good opening
when he met Gerrard's corner unmarked inside the box,
but he sent his header well over the crossbar.
The impressive Gareth Southgate made a vital tackle on
75 minutes to prevent Morientes getting through onto
Garcia's pass inside the box.
Liverpool had a scare when Gerrard went down under a
challenge from Zenden, but after receiving treatment he
was able to carry on much to the relief of the home
bench with next Tuesday's Champions League clash in