The Reds equalled the record of consecutive clean sheets in the early kick off against Boro. A tenth clean sheet in a row made the base for a relatively comfortable win at Anfield. Two goals from Morientes in the second half rounded off a decent display and sends the Reds off to Japan for the world club Championship in fine form.
The Reds came out to huge applause as ever at Anfield whilst Boro saluted those Boro fans who had made the journey down to Liverpool. They certainly never had a full allocation with them though. It was Boro who got the game underway attacking the Kop end in the first half.
The Reds looked to attack from the off but one noticeable thing about Boro is that they all seem to be built hugely on their upper bodies. This was going to be a strong battle to break them down. Gerrard had three attempts at goal in the first five minutes. It was only the third one though that forced Schwarzer in to a routine save. One worry in the early stages of the game was Alonso who seemed to have taken one of his sleeping tablets just before the game.
Boro had decent early possession without massively troubling the Reds. Viduka up front for them was in good form. He hardly missed a header or pull down all game. He has decent skill for all his critics but for all his good work he wasn't given enough support from midfield.
The Reds went really close on twenty three minutes to firing the opening goal. Morientes met a cross superbly well to head on target only to see Schwarzer tip it just over the bar. It was the first header of many that had finally put Schwarzer on the back foot.
The Reds were gradually turning the screw and producing chances. The question now was when would it turn into goals. The difference was the Reds getting the ball down and controlling it. Crouch had headers saved and Kewell was starting to get in goal positions too. Then on thirty nine minutes Southgate strode forward. The Reds just seemed to back away and must have been grateful that Southgate fired his shot wide in the end.
The Reds had a glorious chance two minutes later but of all people it fell to Sissoko. The ball just fell invitingly for him in the middle of the area eight yards out but he powered his header straight at Schwarzer. It's one of those things that makes Sissoko remain the raw but undoubted talent that he is. Once he adds that final something to his game he will be sure to be an even better player than he is now.
The Reds subs were put through their usual half time warm up with Pako although none were making an instant start in the second half. Boro came out first closely followed by the Reds who started the second half off.
Just under two minutes into the second half and the Red really rode their luck. Viduka was played in behind the Reds' defence but Reina was out well and loomed large at the striker before saving well with his leg. A definite wake up for the Reds as this could easily have gone wrong.
The Reds reacted well and Riise had along range effort just over the bar six minutes into the half. Morientes then went close before Kewell almost broke the deadlock with a superb lob. Sadly for Kewell just as the ball was dropping in Schwarzer got back to tip the ball over the bar.
Twenty minutes into the half and Sissoko flew in on Bates and could have no argument at being booked again. What followed though was a reaction from Bates who pushed Sissoko over. Steve Bennett jumped in and rightly booked Momo but just booked Bates as well. That could easily have been a sending off for raising hands but the cards took the heat out of the situation.
The Reds brought Luis Garcia on for Crouch on sixty seven minutes with the Reds in need of a change. They were just starting to look slightly off the pace. Within four minutes the Reds were ahead and Garcia was heavily involved. He whipped a cross in from the edge of the area. Gerrard ducked which allowed the ball to fall to an unmarked Morientes. With time to bring it down he duly slammed the ball past Schwarzer in to the back of the net.
In between the sub and the goal Hyypia had been forced off the pitch with a head injury. Physio and club doctor both ran to the dressing room with him. By the time Hyypia came back it was 1-0 and Hyypia came back on bandaged up heavily. His first action was in his own box defending a Boro attack. It was destined for the bandaged giant to head clear.
The Reds sealed the game on seventy seven minutes through Morientes once again. Carra played a ball down the inside right channel towards Garcia but it was headed back by a Boro player. Morientes who had probably been offside was now onside, ran through and lobbed a helpless Schwarzer. Two nil and game over now.
One last controversial moment still to come in the game though as Chris Riggott was sent off for a second booking. His first card came when he went through Morientes. No-one could complain at this one but then five minutes later he caught Gerrard on the ankle from behind and referee Bennett decided it was another yellow card and the defender was forced off. It was a tad harsh given that Bennett had let tonnes of fouls from Boateng go without even speaking to him.
After Riggott went off the Reds simply kept hold of the ball superbly well and made Boro look like they had that man short. Garcia had a late chance but Schwarzer was out well to deny him and the game finished with the Reds 2-0 winners. Another clean sheet and two more goals from the strike force. On to the world club championship in Japan in fine winning form.
MotM : Momo Sissoko - despite the booking and his goal miss he was superb in midfield on the day. He broke up loads of play which Boro threatened at times to dominate.