24 February 2008

Liverpool 3-2 Middlesbrough

Fernando Torres piled more agony on Middlesbrough as his splendid hat-trick won this game for Liverpool 3-2, adding to the stunning 30-yard effort that claimed a point at the Riverside last month.
The Spaniard has become the first Liverpool forward to hit 20 goals in a season for five years, his total now being 21 since his £20million move to Merseyside.
But Liverpool were made to fight for the win that takes them back into fourth spot.
Tuncay Sanli's header gave Boro an early lead, but Torres struck twice in two minutes before the break and completed his hat-trick, the second since he arrived at the club, on the hour.
Stewart Downing kept his side in the game with a goal in the closing minutes, but any chance they had of grabbing a point was ruined when Jeremie Aliadiere was sent off after an incident with Javier Mascherano.
Liverpool decided on Alvaro Arbeloa as the stand-in for the suspended Jamie Carragher. Martin Skrtel was only considered fit enough for the bench after an ankle problem.
A ninth minute free-kick from Downing curled into the box for Tuncay to head home, to the dismay of a static Liverpool defence who assumed he was offside. Mascherano's positioning on the back post disproved that theory.
Liverpool's response was scrappy, to say the least. The closest they came was a Dirk Kuyt hook-over from a Ryan Babel run and cross.
From a side who had outshone Inter Milan in midweek, Liverpool had reverted to their former self.
Passes were going hopelessly astray, with possession constantly conceded and not a hint of rhythm.
It took Torres to pull Liverpool together.

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