Middlesbrough - Adam Lallana scored twice and Divock Origi found the net for the
fifth consecutive game as Liverpool climbed to second in the Premier
League thanks to a comfortable 3-0 victory at Middlesbrough.
Klopp's controversial decision to drop goalkeeper Loris Karius proved
to be fully justified with Simon Mignolet keeping a clean sheet on his
return to the side as Liverpool won at the Riverside Stadium for the
first time in 14 years to remain six points behind leaders Chelsea on
Reds boss Klopp left himself open to accusations of
bowing to pundit power as the German seemingly contradicting himself
following his public fall-out with Gary and Phil Neville over their
criticism of his summer signing.
Despite mounting a stringent
defence of the 23-year-old, he nevertheless benched the former Mainz
stopper in the wake of conceding six goals in the previous two games,
which had seen Liverpool drop five points in their title challenge.
who had most recently featured in the League Cup victory over Leeds at
the end of November, looked assured in his first top flight appearance
since the 2-1 victory at Chelsea in mid-September.
But in truth
the 28-year-old had little to do in securing a comfortable shut-out
against the division's lowest scorers, who remain in relegation danger.
Lallana broke the deadlock in the 29th minute as the hosts were stretched to breaking point by Nathaniel Clyne.
defender Fabio gave the England full-back too much space, and when his
cross made it all the way to the back post, there was Lallana arriving
ahead of his marker Adam Forshaw to head beyond Victor Valdes.
Sadio Mane was lucky to escape a booking for an early dive as he looked to earn a penalty under challenge from Adam Clayton.
Liverpool midfielder showed the more positive side of his game two
minutes before the break as he almost doubled his side's lead.
Boro were caught out by a pacy counter-attack, this time down the left.
Mane burst through to let fly from inside the area and his low shot
beat Valdes, only to hit the foot of the post.
Origi was the
first to react to the rebound, and his raking shot grazed the
side-netting with Valdes scrambling across goal to cover.
It proved to be a similar pattern after the break, as Valdes saved at his near post to deny the increasingly influential Mane.
defender Ben Gibson looked to use his arm to block the Senegal
midfielder's shot soon after, but referee Jon Moss was unmoved as the
Reds closed in on the decisive second goal.
It arrived on the hour
as Georginio Wijnaldum released Lallana into the box for the
midfielder's inviting low cross to be swept home from close range by
Origi, whose prolific scoring run is the best by a Liverpool player
since Daniel Sturridge scored in eight consecutive matches at the outset
Origi returned the favour in the 69th minute for
Lallana's ninth goal of the season for club and country, the former
Southampton trainee securing the points by firing home the forward's
cross at the far post with Middlesbrough again caught short by a swift