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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 August 2005, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool were unable to find a way past 10-man Middlesbrough despite the best efforts of captain Steven Gerrard.

The midfielder was repeatedly thwarted by Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer and saw a host of second-half chances go begging.

But despite Ugo Ehiogu's red card for a foul on Gerrard on 74 minutes, the Reds did not make the extra man count.

Mohamed Sissoko shot wide and Djibril Cisse failed to connect with a header, while Liverpool keeper Jose Reina was rarely troubled by the home team.

The visitors' second half dominance was in contrast to a dull first half notable mainly for the frosty reception given to Liverpool's summer signing from Boro, Boudewijn Zenden.

The home fans wasted few opportunities to boo the Dutchman - but they were given precious little to cheer in a first-half which was woefully short on incident.

Liverpool's best first-half chance came when Fernando Morientes nodded the ball down for Gerrard after 24 minutes, but the midfielder volleyed well over Schwarzer's goal.

The home side came close in the closing stages as Reina tipped over a shot from Ehiogu before seeing George Boateng's header from the resulting corner go over the bar.

Gerrard began the second half with real purpose, sending one volley just wide - although Schwarzer had it covered - then unleashing a drive which was well-stopped by the Boro stopper.

But the game opened up and was a better spectacle after the interval.

Gerrard also volleyed wide as the visitors began to tighten their grip on the match, and Sissoko shot just past the post after a good move.

Cisse just failed to connect after Sami Hyppia headed a free-kick back across goal as the Reds continued to press.

Boro fashioned the occasional chance, and Mark Viduka will be disappointed his 72nd-minute header went straight to Reina in the Reds' goal.

Moments later Reina sparked the move which led to Ehiogu's red card.

The keeper's powerful punch from a high ball put Liverpool on the attack, and just before Gerrard broke into the area, Ehiogu clipped the midfielder's heels leaving Mark Halsey with little choice.

Boro defended the free-kick, which was blocked, although Gerrard headed inches over in the subsequent scramble - then was denied again by Schwarzer with another header.

There was still time for Gerrard to send yet another header inches wide with Schwarzer well beaten.


Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren said:
"It was a great point for us, it's always important to get something from the first game of the season.

"You saw when we were down to 10 men, we had great attitude and character and it said we're ready for the new season.

"You could tell they had played competitive games this season, they looked a little bit sharper than us."

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez said:
"I am a little bit frustrated. I think we played the last 15 minutes in their half. We controlled the game.

"We showed we could create chances and Steven Gerrard had four clear opportunities. It's a pity. We controlled the game in the first half.

"Steven Gerrard could have had three or four goals. You know he has quality and pace and can score."


Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Reiziger, Southgate, Ehiogu, Queudrue, Mendieta (Nemeth 65), Parlour, Boateng, Downing, Yakubu (Bates 75), Hasselbaink (Viduka 67).
Subs Not Used: Doriva, Jones.

Sent Off: Ehiogu (74).

Booked: Parlour, Queudrue.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Warnock, Luis Garcia (Cisse 57), Sissoko, Gerrard, Alonso, Zenden, Morientes (Baros 67).
Subs Not Used: Riise, Carson, Whitbread.

Booked: Alonso, Luis Garcia, Sissoko.

Att: 31,908

Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren


Interview: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez



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