ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
LIVERPOOL 2-0 MIDDLESBROUGH
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
10 December 2005 (12.45pm) at Anfield
Liverpool made it 10 games without defeat - and equalled their club record of 10 successive clean sheets - as they eventually overpowered a determined Middlesbrough.
Fernando Morientes broke the deadlock with two late goals, the first sweeping home a Luis Garcia cross and the second a clever lob over Mark Schwarzer.
Boro had battled bravely but eventually were overrun, with Chris Riggott being sent off for a second bookable offence just to rub salt into the wounds.
This was Liverpool's seventh successive league win to send them off to the World Club Championships next week in high spirits.
Liverpool had Xabi Alonso back but were missing the bruised Dietmar Hamann.
However, the first half was a considerable disappointment, almost a hangover from their hugely competitive Champions League night in west London when they stopped Chelsea in their tracks.
Steven Gerrard had three chances in the opening minutes, the third of which forced Mark Schwarzer into a decent save under his crossbar.
But much of the early play was error-ridden and generally lax, for what was Liverpool's second successive Saturday lunchtime kick-off.
Fabio Rochemback and Doriva were able to break up Liverpool's midfield work and put their back line under pressure, while Schwarzer produced another fine save as John Arne Riise's long throw cleared Peter Crouch's leap and dropped for Morientes to send in a dipping header.
Then Matthew Bates headed out Crouch's header after a corner, the ball seemingly heading goalwards.
Gareth Southgate then also headed away from under the crossbar following a Kewell header as Liverpool upped the pace.
But the front men were still misfiring, Crouch was reaching plenty in the air but it produced very little, while Morientes' flicks were not finding their targets.
Middlesbrough managed little of danger in the first half, apart from a Southgate surge to fire a 20-yarder just wide.
Liverpool's best chance of the half came when Gerrard crossed from the right, Crouch got his radar right to head down in the box and Mohamed Sissoko fired straight at Schwarzer from eight yards.
A minute into the second half Reina remarkably protected his long run without conceding a goal when Mark Viduka looked odds-on to score only for Reina to stick out a foot to deflect wide the big striker's effort wide from 10 yards.
Liverpool responded with a Riise piledriver on the volley from 25 yards from Gerrard's corner with the ball flashing inches over.
Kewell then almost beat his Australia team-mate Schwarzer with a dipping volley from 20 yards which the Boro goalkeeper tipped over at full stretch.
After 65 minutes Sissoko's tackle produced anger from Bates, who jumped up and pushed the midfielder to the floor. Referee Steve Bennett opted to book both players.
Then Liverpool withdrew Crouch and sent on Luis Garcia a minute later to play just behind Morientes.
Sami Hyypia went off for attention to a cut head after colliding with George Boateng and while the Finland defender was off the field Liverpool took the lead in the 71st minute.
Luis Garcia's ball in from the right was swept into the net by Morientes from 10 yards.
Hyypia's return with a heavily bandaged head was soon followed by Morientes' second after 77 minutes when he raced on to a poor header from Franck Queudrue which dropped some 20 yards out and allowed the Spain striker to lift a clever effort over Schwarzer.
Chris Riggott was booked for a foul on Morientes before Djibril Cisse came on for Kewell after 82 minutes.
But things got worse for Boro after 84 minutes when Riggott's late tackle on Gerrard earned him a second yellow card as the visitors were reduced to 10 men
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|Match Report filed: 11 December 2005|