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Middlesbrough 0, Liverpool 3: Lallana Shines as Reds Recover

Liverpool climb up to second place after a strong showing against a lackluster Middlesbrough side

Middlesbrough v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Middlesbrough 0
Liverpool 3 Lallana 29', 68', Origi 60'

Adam Lallana scored two and assisted one as he inspired Liverpool to rebound from two disappointing games, climbing to second place in the table and becoming the first team to score 40 goals this season.

Despite Dejan Lovren being the central defender supposedly doubtful for the match, it was Joël Matip who was unable to start Wednesday's game against Middlesbrough, ruled out of action with an ankle injury. Ragnar Klavan replaced the Cameroonian in front of reinstated goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Otherwise, the side was unchanged from the one that drew against West Ham on the weekend, with James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne at fullback, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield, and Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Sadio Mané up top.

The Reds had struggled to create big chances in recent outings, and the first half hour at the Riverside was not much better, as the home team set out to harass Liverpool's build-up play while looking to counter through the hold-up play of Alváro Negrédo and the penetration of Adama Traoré. They succeeded, and were the first side to manage a shot on target, Mignolet comfortably saving the header from Calum Chambers.

The visitors started having some luck with their pressing halfway through the first frame, and were close to a big chance after robbing Traoré in the Boro box. Minutes later, Lallana struck his first on the night, arriving late at the back post to power home a header - his first ever in the Premier League - from Clyne's precise cross. The hosts immediately attempted to strike back, and Mignolet twice kept the Reds' lead intact, first batting away a thunderbolt at his near post, before deflecting a shot from the opposite side past his post after a Traoré run lead to mayhem in the Liverpool box.

Minutes before the break, Origi played Mané through on the break, but the former Southampton man's left-footed effort bounced back off the post, and Origi drove an effort inches wide on the follow-up.

Liverpool came out aggressively in the second half, looking to put the game to bed, and a surprisingly lackluster Middlesbrough let them. The Reds camped out in their opposition's half, and within fifteen minutes had produced double what they did in the entire first half. Mané looked the man most likely, having a shot saved from a narrow angle, the ball get stuck in his feet six yards out after Firmino headed down an Origi cross, and then getting caught narrowly offside when he was released into the box, again by the Brazilian.

One minute later the Reds were two goals up. Mané and Wijnaldum combined terrifically, and when the former was brought down, Jon Moss played the advantage, allowing Lallana to latch onto the ball and cross it for Origi, who tucked it home for his fifth goal in five appearances.

Middlesbrough were unable to muster much threat of a comeback, and beyond Traoré making Liverpool's defenders look silly everytime he got on the ball, produced nothing going forward. Instead, Lallana made sure of the three points as he coolly slotted home Origi's cross on seventy minutes, once again after the referee playing the advantage. A leagu debut for Trent Alexander-Arnold and a run-out for Ovie Ejaria were all the match had left, and the Reds can travel back to Merseyside sitting in second place.

It was good for Liverpool to bounce back from their frustrating recent run, but Middlesbrough didn't put up much of a fight after going a goal down. Still, it was only the second time this season the Smoggies have conceded more than two goals, and the Reds did well to put them to the sword.

Simon Mignolet made his manager look a smart man with an assured display, making good saves on the two occasions he was called into action, and the defenders were generally in control of Negrédo and his cronies, exception made for the incredibly dynamic Traoré. Offensively, Mané was a constant menace, Firmino made himself the pivot around which the attack revolved, and Origi scored in his fifth straight game, taking his tally to seven in all competitions, and averaging a goal every 90 minutes since April. The real standout performer was Lallana, however, who now has six goals and six assists on the season, averaging a goal involvement every 81 minutes, a tally bested only by Alexis Sánchez.

The Merseyside derby is up next, as Liverpool travel to Everton on Monday, and the Reds must continue to win if they endeavour to keep pace with league leaders Chelsea.

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