FULLTIME AT ANFIELD REVIEW: RESURGENT LIVERPOOL DISMANTLE MIDDLESBOROUGH
After our last two EPL outings that set us back, it was imperative that tonight’s midweek tussle away at Middlesbrough produce not just 3 points but an unassailable lead (tough ask considering the 3-1 lead we threw away at the Vitality Stadium against Bournemouth). This meant not just a killer instinct in front of goal but an unshakeable resolve when it came to defending our goal and hopefully goals.
Dropping Loris Karius was an easy decision for Klopp as he looked to Mignolet to keep things clean in the goal if play got past our back four of Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, and Milner. Our midfield trio, Wijnaldum, Henderson, and Lallana, looked to stifle ‘Boro’s attacks while providing support to our frontline of Firmino, Origi, and Mane.
With all to play for after Arsenal dropped points to Everton, Liverpool didn’t disappoint with a convincing 3-0 thumping away at Middlesbrough that got us back to second place on the log. Adam Lallana made up for his lackluster performance last time out to seize the man of the match title for the day with a brilliant show which saw the Englishman netting twice and setting up Divock Origi.
But it wasn’t all that convincing when play got underway; the travelling Kop were given little to cheer about as the opening minutes saw both sides canceling each other out in the middle of the park though Liverpool had greater access to the ball. It wasn’t until the half-hour mark that saw our first real chance converted by Lallana after getting his head to an inch-perfect cross from Clyne to send in a bullet header that saw Victor Valdes beaten at the far post.
Mignolet got called to action just moments after our goal as Boro got a little urgency in their stride with Fischer sending in a rifled shot to Mignolet’s near post leaving our goalie with just his instincts to save our blushes. Klopp’s men all but switched off as Boro pressed time and again for an equalizer but it was Mane that almost got us the 2-goal cushion at the cusp of halftime, the Senegalese got on to a gem of a pass from Origi to hit a low shot destined for goal but was denied by the upright.
If the first half was lackluster from the lads the second half saw us running riot on every ball, pushing the tempo and driving every other minute through Boro’s defenses. It wasn’t until 30 minutes into the half that our yielded fruit and goals like this should be front and center in the argument for a rise in ticket prices; an astounding team effort that saw Mane showing a turn of foot in the middle and Wijnaldum flicking it forward for Lallana. The midfielder took one look before teeing up Origi who placed the ball beyond Valdes into the bottom corner.
That goal really took the wind out of the homeside but Liverpool had it in them for one more just 8 minutes after our second with the lads’ build-up play causing all sorts of problems for the Boro defence as Mane tore through but got chopped down, the ref playing the advantage as Origi picked up the ball and holding off till the last second before sending in the pass low to an onrushing Lallana who, from the penalty spot, sent Valdes grasping air as he got his second for the night and Liverpool’s third.
That pretty much floored Middlesbrough as they never looked like scoring a consolation goal let alone threaten a comeback which suited us nicely as we rode the clock to grab all three points and leap frog Arsenal on the table to second.
MAN OF THE MATCH: ADAM LALLANA
Adam Lallana again proved his worth in this campaign with a breathtaking performance. Two well taken goals and an assist from the Englishman had the Kop forgetting how sorely we’ve missed Coutinho these past weeks. All round high-level team performance with everyone giving 150% to get us within six points of Chelsea with our head-to-head enough to keep Arsenal at bay for now.