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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 November 2006, 19:06 GMT
Middlesbrough 0-0 Liverpool
By Mandeep Sanghera

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard
Gerrard's look of frustration summed up his side's performance
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard played in central midfield at Middlesbrough but the Reds still could not register a first away league win of the season.

The visitors dominated an uninspiring game and Dirk Kuyt had a promising early chance but fired wide.

Boro had only one chance, when Jason Euell's header was saved by Jose Reina and Yakubu failed to get on the end of the rebound with an empty net gaping.

Peter Crouch went close late on for the Reds but lacked power in his header.

Gerrard had started the game in his preferred central role rather than on the right wing but the raging debate over his best position appeared to have taken some sort of toll on him.

There was plenty of pressure on Gerrard to perform and help the Reds out of their away-day blues but, instead, the weight of expectation inhibited his play early on.

Too much of the burden of Liverpool's struggles seems to be placed on Gerrard while his team-mates struggle to ease the load on their skipper.

A lack of confidence also coursed through the visitors but Middlesbrough were too defensive-minded to take advantage.

606: DEBATE
WK

The home side lacked a cutting edge and options in attack as they seemed more intent on keeping Liverpool at bay rather than taking the game to the opposition.

But Gerrard slowly began to exert some influence as he set up his side's best chance of the first half when he found Bellamy with a 40-yard pass.

Bellamy chested the ball down for strike partner Kuyt, who steadied himself but could only shoot wide from 15 yards.

Jermaine Pennant then laid the ball off for Xabi Alonso but he shot disappointingly high as he was closed down by Fabio Rochemback before Kuyt's appeals for a penalty for a Julio Arca trip were waved away.

Pennant has been criticised for his lack of impact since his summer arrival but an angled shot on the turn almost improved his fortunes only for keeper Mark Schwarzer to scramble down and save.

Middlesbrough midfielder Jason Euell tackles Liverpool winger Mark Gonzalez
Boro's work ethic and determination not to concede kept Liverpool at bay

Liverpool counterpart Reina was called upon shortly into the second half when Boro mounted their first chance of the match.

James Morrison crossed for Euell whose close range downward header could only be palmed into the six-yard box by Reina.

Yakubu failed to read the rebound and slot into an empty net as the chance disappeared with Steve Finnan hooking the ball way.

Liverpool's response saw Kuyt pull a cross back from the byline for Bellamy but his header was blocked by Jonathan Woodgate.

Schwarzer did well to keep out a long range Daniel Agger strike and was also Boro's saviour when he kept out a first-time shot from Mark Gonzalez.

Liverpool were totally dominant but could not find a way through the Boro ranks.

Crouch missed with two late headers as the goal and win Liverpool craved eluded them.


  • Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
    "The team was playing really well and creating a lot of chances. I think we deserved to win.

    "We created enough to win. It's clear we had control and we had a lot of crosses and shots but, at the end of the day, you need to score to win.

    "If we play like that then out of 100 games we will win 99. You cannot blame the players when they play like that."

    Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
    "In the end I am pleased with the draw," he said. "The way the second half went, in particular, we had to soak up a lot of pressure.

    "We had some outstanding defending and magnificent goalkeeping.

    "We didn't play as well as we would have liked but I can't fault the attitude and character of the lads as they have given me everything."


    Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Davies (Huth 46), Woodgate, Pogatetz, Taylor, Morrison (Maccarone 77), Boateng (Cattermole 72), Rochemback, Euell, Arca, Yakubu.
    Subs Not Used: Jones, Mendieta.

    Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Gonzalez (Zenden 84), Kuyt (Crouch 79), Bellamy.
    Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia, Paletta.

    Att: 31,424

    Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).



    SEE ALSO
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    18 Nov 06 |  Football
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