Middlesbrough-Swansea is THE crucial game for Boro

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka knows Saturday's basement battle with Swansea City is THE game of the week at the Riverside Stadium.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 1:02 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 10:22 am
Boro's Viktor Fischer brings down Sadio Mane. Picture by TOM COLLINS

Boro slipped to 17th in the table after feeling the full might of Liverpool last night and now take on the Welsh side this weekend

Karanka’s side were not without their chances last night – restored Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet pulled off a superb save to deny Viktor Fischer when his side led 1-0.

But Jurgen Klopp’s title-chasers were emphatic winners in the end with two goals from Adam Lallana and one for Divock Origi.

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Karanka, whose side earned draws against Arsenal and Manchester City, said: “We’ve played the top of the league teams this season and we have competed against every one of them but (against Liverpool) it was impossible.

“Liverpool were much better than us, in their intensity, in everything.

“When they were winning 2-0 they kept the same intensity, they wanted every ball and they moved the ball at amazing speed.

“It is not a coincidence that they are where they are in the table and they are having a good season and they are candidates to win this league.

“But we just have to keep going. We can’t forget the good season we are having so far.

“We have to recover as soon as possible because we have an important game on Saturday.”

Liverpool started the game six points behind leaders Chelsea but they began with plenty of intent, Lallana fizzing an early shot from long-range which was blocked by Calum Chambers.

But Boro matched them for pace and endeavour with Fabio marking one of the better halves of his Boro career by drifting in from the left and firing a shot straight at Mignolet from the edge of the box.

The visitors snatched the lead on the half-hour when Nathaniel Clyne was given space to attack down the right and Lallana headed home his cross from point-blank range.

Moments later, Mignolet justified Klopp’s decision by denying Fischer, who cut in from the Boro right and fired a rising shot from a tight angle.

Goalscorer Lallana got back to block a goal-bound effort from Marten de Roon, but Boro’s anxiety to grab an equaliser almost caught them out when Roberto Firmino put through Sadio Mane, who hit a low shot across Victor Valdes and against the post.

Mane had two shots blocked in a furious start to the second half by the visitors, prompting Boro boss Aitor Karanka to make a double substitution and throw Stewart Downing and Grant Leadbitter into the fray.

It was all in vain as Liverpool extended their lead on the hour mark when neat work by Georginio Wijnaldum set Lallana free on the right side of the box and the in-form midfielder crossed for Origi to sweep home the simplest of chances.

And eight minutes later it was game over as referee Jon Moss waved advantage when Mane was fouled on the edge of the box, allowing Origi to cross for Lallana to score his second from eight yards.

Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Da Silva, Forshaw, Clayton (Leadbitter 56), de Roon, Traore, Negredo (Rhodes 77), Fischer (Downing 56). Subs Not Used: Bernardo, Guzan, Nsue, Nugent. Booked: Gibson.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Lallana (Lucas 82), Henderson, Wijnaldum (Ejaria 87), Mane, Origi (Alexander-Arnold 90), Firmino. Subs Not Used: Karius, Moreno, Stewart, Woodburn.

Goals: Lallana 29, Origi 60, Lallana 68.

Attendance: 32,704

Referee: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).