After The Match 


Middlesbrough-Liverpool 1-1 (1-0)      12.1. 08                    PL
Goals: Torres (71)            Boateng (26)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Finnan, Riise, Mascherano, Gerrard, Benayoun, Torres, Voronin
Subs: Babel (Arbeloa 46), Alonso (Benayoun 59), Kuyt (Voronin 75)
Not used: Itandje, Agger
Yellow: Alonso (79)               Huth (50)
Red: None
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 33,035
Shots on target: 2-6
Shots off target: 5-7
Blocked shots: 4-0
Fouls conceded: 6-13
Corners: 3-9
Offsides: 11-5
Possession: 40.5-59.5
Yellow: 1-1
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES  "I am trying
to concentrate on the next game."

Rafael Benitez

1201: Rafa remains defiant
1201: Southgate happy with draw
1201: Torres stunner rescues Reds  


Rafa remains defiant

By Tom Kell - Setanta Sports

Rafa Benitez once again shrugged off the mounting speculation shrouding his position as Liverpool manager after seeing his side stumble to a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The result means Liverpool have now gone four games without a win and must surely be discounted from the title race as they now sit 12 points adrift of the top of the pile.

However, Benitez remained defiant in the face of questions as to whether the conjecture surrounding his job had affected him.

"No, not really, he insisted. "I am trying to concentrate on the next game. You must concentrate on games and not anything else because you cannot change those things."

The Spaniard refuses to rule his side out of the title race, but admits they must start turning dominance into points in batches of threes if they are to overhaul Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

"In this position, you cannot think about the leaders, you must think about the next game against Luton, and after that the next one against Aston Villa, said Benitez.

"You can play well, you can create chances, but you need to win. You can talk and talk, but at the end of the day, you must win on the pitch.

"When you talk about a draw away, sometimes you think that is good, but especially when you are trying to reduce the gap and be closer, you must be disappointed."

Southgate happy with draw

Sky Sports

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was content with his side's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Fernando Torres' late strike denied Middlesbrough all three points after George Boateng gave the home side a first-half lead.

Southgate was full of praise for his side's performance and felt if Stewart Downing's shot had gone in and not hit the post they would have won the game.

"Had we got the second when we hit the post, I think we would have won the game," said Southgate.

"But then you look at the guy who scored their goal and I think he cost about as much as our entire 16, and you think maybe it is not such a bad result.

"I am really pleased with the performance we gave because we got the biggest crowd of the season here and it was important we produced a good performance - and it was a performance borne out of a lot of adversity."

Southgate was remaining coy on speculation linking Dowining with a move away from the Riverside and swoops for strike duo Alfonso Alves and Fred.

"It's speculation, simple. There is interest always in good players,

but we have enquiries throughout the year and there has been nothing firmer than that," added Southgate.

"There is nothing, really, that has been anything out of the ordinary, in my

Asked if he feared Downing had played his last game for the club, Southgate replied: "I don't think so, no.

"It's January and it is a month I will be glad to see the back of. There is very little to report."

Torres stunner rescues Reds

Sky Sports

Fernando Torres' stunning goal rescued a point for Liverpool in their 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough.

George Boateng gave Middlesbrough a deserved first half to mark his return to the starting XI.

Liverpool looked to be heading to defeat until Torres popped up 19 minutes from time with a brilliant long-range strike.

The draw was Liverpool's fouth successive stalemate in all competitions and leaves their title dreams in real trouble.

Boro, who had 19-year-old full-back Jonathan Grounds making his first senior start and were again missing Jonathan Woodgate and Mido, produced the far more fluent football.

The invention of in-form Turkey international Tuncay international was a threat throughout and with Downing, a 12million target for Tottenham, providing good service from the left, they pushed consistently throughout the first half.

They made the breakthrough with 26 minutes gone when Gary O'Neil headed Downing's cross back across goal and Tuncay nodded it down for Boateng to slide the ball home.

Boateng, who had been warmly applauded when his name was announced, received the acclaim for his first goal of the season joyously as his rehabilitation was completed.

Benitez made his move at the break when he sent on winger Ryan Babel for full-back Alvaro Arbeloa, and there was instantly a different look about his team.

Striker Andrei Voronin simply could not believe referee Andre Marriner's decision not to away him a penalty within a minute of the restart after he appeared to be barged to the ground by Huth.

But Boro were almost handed a second goal on a plate four minutes later when keeper Jose Reina inexplicably raced out to the left touchline without a hope of beating Jeremie Aliadiere to Downing's pass, and could only look on gratefully as the Frenchman's cross failed to locate a red shirt.

Babel had started confidently and almost made a major impact on 59 minutes when he cut in-field before unleashing a dipping, swerving shot which wrong-footed Schwarzer and flew inches past the far post.

But only the upright denied the Teessiders a second goal eight minutes later when Downing's shot thundered into the woodwork with Reina beaten, and O'Neil lifted the rebound over the bar.

However, Torres' big moment arrived with 71 minutes gone when he picked up the ball in midfield and despite stumbling initially, hammered a venomous shot past the despairing Schwarzer to level.

The Australian had to tip a late Gerrard effort over the crossbar and block a Sami Hyypia header with his legs as the visitors pressed for the win, but Southgate's men just about held firm.

backbutton.gif (1697 bytes)

Thor Zakariassen