Middlesbrough 1 Liverpool 1

Last updated : 12 January 2008 By Footymad Previewer
Fernando Torres grabbed a second-half equaliser for the visitors with a stunning shot after skipper George Boateng had given Boro a 26th-minute lead.

The point will be valuable in Middlesbrough's fight against relegation and, on this display, they should soon pull away from the drop-zone.

Boro gave a first-team debut to 19-year-old reserve team defender Jonathan Grounds.

It must have been an intimidating experience for the youngster but, surprisingly, Liverpool did not take advantage.

A brilliant full-length save by Mark Schwarzer kept Steven Gerrard's powerful shot out in the early stages.

Midfielder George Boateng returned to captain Boro following a bust-up with manager Gareth Southgate after being left out of the side against Everton.

Boateng had a tremendous impact on the game and deserved to put his side ahead midway through the first half.

Jeremie Aliadiere beat Liverpool keeper Jose Reina in an aerial challenge at the far post and headed the ball into the goalmouth where Boateng scrambled it over the line.

Gerrard drove Liverpool forward from midfield but the visitors attack got little change out of Boro's central defensive pair of Robert Huth and David Wheater.

Middlesbrough fought for every ball and deserved to go in at half-time with their lead intact.

Liverpool obviously wanted to step up the pressure after the break and the game continued to be fought in a tremendous atmosphere.

Reina raced out of the penalty area to challenge Tuncay towards the touchline. The Turkey international held off the challenge and crossed into the middle but there was no team-mate to take advantage of an open goal.

Liverpool were fortunate to survive when Stewart Downing, who has been linked with a move to Spurs this month, hit the post with Reina beaten and Gary O'Neil shot over the bar.

Liverpool drew level when Torres beat Schwarzer all ends up with a powerful shot from outside the area.

The game was in the balance right until the final whistle, with Gerrard close to snatching a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser with a shot that flashed past the far post.