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Alan Green reports
"Boro just wanted to defend and Liverpool couldn't break them down"
 real 28k

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
"We deserved to win after playing in Boro's half all the time"
 real 28k

Saturday, 22 January, 2000, 18:36 GMT
Owen blow as Liverpool held

Ince is denied by Liverpool keeper Westerveld

Liverpool 0-0 Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough defended stoutly to earn a point as Michael Owen's injury worry returned.

The Liverpool striker fell to the ground after crossing the ball on 27 minutes. He held his right leg and immediately signalled to come off.

Exit Michael Owen
It was an afternoon when Liverpool laboured in vain to out-wit Boro's five-man defence in which Gary Pallister was dominant.

Owen had only returned last week following another hamstring strain and he now joins Robbie Fowler in the treatment room. It is also another headache for England manager Kevin Keegan as he prepares for Euro 2000.

But if the result was a blow to Liverpool's hopes of Champions' League qualification, Boro's point was welcomed by under-pressure manager Bryan Robson.

Liverpool left their best until the last minute when Patrik Berger's shot was parried by Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer and substitute Danny Murphy's follow-up was blocked.

We have to sort out Owen's hamstring problem - it's been going on for a long time now. We hope he'll be back for the Leeds game, but we're not sure.
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
Paul Ince was given a hostile reception on his return to Anfield, where Middlesbrough had not won for 24 years.

It was the start of an unhappy first half for the England midfielder. First he found himself clean through, but he looked round - amazed to be given onside - and Sander Westerveld rushed from his goal to clear.

Moments later he was booked for tackling Vladimir Smicer from behind.

But Ince was smiling afterwards. "You expect to get a few boos," he said, paying respect to Liverpool's fans and enthusing about his return.

"It was backs to the wall but we worked hard and collectively we were the better side. This gives us confidence."

Eyes on the prize: Matteo and Campbell
Smicer, playing up front for Liverpool, swept a cross-shot just past the post, the closest Liverpool came in a poor first half.

Then Steven Gerrard went close with a chip from 18 yards.

At the other end Westerveld saved from Juninho on a rare Boro break.

Liverpool stepped up the pace straight after the break. Berger's shot went close then Dietmar Hamman's 25-yard-drive was saved by Schwarzer at the foot of his post.

But the game soon settled into the drab pattern of the first half.

Liverpool had the ball in the net with 15 minutes left from a corner but there had been a clear foul on Schwarzer.


Liverpool: Westerveld, Carragher, Hyypia, Henchoz, Matteo, Thompson, Hamann, Gerrard, Berger, Smicer, Owen.
Subs: Staunton, Meijer, Murphy, Nielsen, Newby.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Mustoe, Festa, Pallister, Vickers, Fleming, Cooper, Ince, Summerbell, Juninho, Campbell.
Subs: Beresford, Maddison, Ricard, Gavin, Kilgannon.

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol

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