Time to drop any pretense of a title challenge.
FULL TIME Liverpool again go to the Riverside and drop points, which spells the end of hopes for a title.
94' N'Gog flys a free header.
93' Pogatetz gets forward and crosses/shoots across to King, who's offside but nets it anyway.
90' 4 minutes of added time. "They could have 400 minutes and they wouldn't score." I would be offended if it wasn't stolen straight from my mind grapes.
88' Liverpool's defense is shredded again. Don't think it's an exaggeration that this is one of the worst displays this season, if not the past couple. Just shocking.
84' Benayoun has again been dangerous after coming on and gets a corner...which again leads to some peripheral danger but nothing to show for it.
82' Fabulous comment from our one reader below. "Organpool!" HA! Because the liver is an organ, and if you substitute "Liver" with "Organ" you get "Organpool." I'll be out of work soon enough.
80' Lucas got a haircut. That must have been the problem.
79' O'Neil almost volleys in off a cross from Downing. Well I want to die.
77' Lucas on for Gerrard. I'm headed for a coma.
75' Gerrard has been standing still for the last two minutes. I'll go out on a limb and say that would not be good.
73' Boro have another chance, good save from Reina. We are a long way from the Bernabeu.
72' Benayoun on for Carra...run of the mill substitutions today obviously.
70' Twenty minutes to save any sort of title challenge.
68' Gerrard creates another great chance and Kuyt whiffs. Awful. And El Zhar comes off...N'Gog on. Pardon?
64' Another goal mouth scramble that leads to nothing and a cleared corner.
GOAL Aliadiere gets it to Tuncay and it's 2-0. Deserved.
62' Gerrard starting to come into the game a bit, that's two vintage forward runs this half, let's hope he's finding his stride.
60' Second best chance of the afternoon for Liverpool comes off Kuyt's elbow.
56' Embarrassing stuff after a gifted corner from Pogatetz.
54' The available sub list is just read off, and beyond Riera and Benayoun it's pretty dire stuff. Riera hasn't exactly been in the form of his life lately but might have more of an impact than Babel.
50' Hyypia and Wheater clash heads, Hyypia's got a bit of blood and is treated in the middle of the pitch. Middlesbrough create action on the edge of the box, luckily Aliadiere's first touch is "diabolical."
48' Gerrard finally looks like himself and creates a great chance, El Zhar puts it over from close range. Not a complete sitter, but a chance that likely should have been taken. The chances are going to come.
47' Kuyt lays off for Skrtel, attempt from distance never really a threat.
46' Second half away.
Not much to say...Liverpool have had a good share of possession and a few shots, but again are unable to take a chance. I feel like I write the same halftime paragraph every week. Skrtel has been fraying at the edges as the half wore on. I'm guessing the shape of the team will change in the second half at some point. Kuyt cannot be the lone striker--he doesn't have the control, pace or skill to be up there alone. Liverpool simply need to be better in the final third in the next 45 minutes.
HALFTIME I'm a strong advocate for Liverpool scoring a couple of goals in the second half.
45' 2 minutes of added time...track back by Kuyt gets possession back for Liverpool, but again, no way past the edge of the box.
43' Nothing doing. Clever pun of the first half--"With Huth, who doesn't hoof it." Side-splitting stuff.
41' Break for Liverpool, Alonso gets it to Kuyt, who has the first touch of a trampoline and gives it away.
38' Skrtel having a little trouble on the right...competent enough defensively, but the touch is lacking.
36' Good one-two from Aurelio and Alonso get Liverpool a corner...nothing to show for it.
34' Skrtel gives away possession, leads to a corner. Xabi hides himself, Reina collects it.
32' Off of Xabi's leg, he didn't seem to know anything of it. The Riverside is cursed. Someone slaughter a goat.
30' Another scramble in front of goal that leads to no joy. Middlesbrough are playing the Liverpool Champions League approach--survive, absorb the pressure, hope for a chance on the counter.
28' Ambitious chance by Gerrard after good build-up again. "Build-up" implies that there's some sort of finish, though...
26' Yikes. Downing again on the left, this time with a cross that's behind Aliadiere. Liverpool are quick to counter, but Xabi Alonso's shot is well over.
23' Babel has abandoned the left wing on multiple occasions, then goes back and dummies to let the ball roll to nobody. Dynamite.
21' Aliadiere lands awkwardly and stays down...little break in play.
20' El Zhar again looks threatening on the right, but as has been the case, there's 18 defenders in between him and goal.
16' Gerrard plays it through for Babel, shot saved by Brad Jones. Looking good in the passing game.
16' 0-2 on corners.
14' Through ball from Hyypia for Aurelio, who sneaks a cross in to Kuyt, who controls-ish and fires at goal, fingertip save over.
11' Scary moment there, nice cross by Downing finds O'Neil's boot, luckily Reina is quick to react.
9' Great movement from the right leads to a chance for El Zhar, but nothing results from the scramble. Positive play at least.
8' "He felt he was the meat in their sandwich." Nice phrasing.
6' Skrtel lumbers forward and dribbles past the touchline.
5' Nice passing by Middlesbrough, attack is broken up by Hyypia.
2' Skrtel out on the right now, Carragher in the center.
KICKOFF Another must-win underway.
** Oh perfect, Rob Styles is our referee.
** Snide comment retracted, it's a sell-out. But they haven't seen a win in league since October. Hopefully no loyalty rewarded today.
** I wish I had as much energy as the advertising guy for all the programs on Setanta. Probably substance-aided though.
** Jesus the Setanta Sports intro makes me want to cry. It's like a video collage of my nightmares over the past two months. Including that guy in the 2005 Champions League jersey who looked all disconcerted and was hiding a grapefruit in his throat.
** El Zhar gets his first ever start in the Premier League...and he's been solid enough this year in a substitute role. Benayoun has to play a role today right?
** Liverpool's squad:
Bench: Cavalieri, Dossena, Riera, Benayoun, Lucas, Ngog, Darby.
** Strange day yesterday, with the club confirming that Rick Parry will be leaving his post as Chief Executive at the end of the season. Plenty of speculation about Hicks' role, Rafa's role, and Gillett's increasingly diminished role. If it improves the squad, I'm all for it. Not really going to go much more in depth than that, first because who knows what happened, and second, who cares what happened. All the board room crap over the past couple years is not my topic of choice when it comes to Liverpool. It's been embarrassing enough for the club to have something in the press nearly every day about off the field board room drama. That takes the focus of the important off the field drama that includes violently acting out at a DJ who refuses to play Phil Collins. "You like Phil Collins?" "I've got two ears and a heart, don't I?"