Liverpool run riot as Lallana heeds Klopp's wise words
Middlesbrough 0 Liverpool 3
Jurgen Klopp revealed that a quiet word with two-goal hero Adam Lallana 12 months ago has helped the England man find the net on a more regular basis. The 28-year-old's close-range opener on the half hour put Liverpool on the way to victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside and the Reds increased their lead through Divock Origi then Lallana's second.
"Not bad, eh? In the first half we were good, the second we were much better," said Klopp.
"We had moments in the first half where we were static and even I was confused. We did much better second half, we could have finished more often.
"Adam Lallana is improving even when he doesn't score, but it's nice he's in that situation.
"About a year ago I had sat him in the office and I was happy with him but he was like 'I'm not scoring'. And I said he wasn't in the right positions. Tonight he was twice in the right position and it was wonderful."
Klopp also explained his decision to drop goalkeeper Loris Karius - responsible for errors in recent games against Bournemouth and West Ham - for Simon Mignolet with the Belgian responding with a brilliant one-handed save to deny Viktor Fischer moments after his side's opener.
"Life is not always the nicest but these are my boys and for me it is important to push them and protect them and sometimes I have to make decisions I don't like," he said.
"I know how strong Loris is, but he couldn't show it in the last few games.
"Judging him in this moment makes no sense. Simon Mignolet is on the bench and we have to have competition. It's all about Liverpool. The boys have good character. Karius is still a great keeper."
It was precisely the kind of reaction Klopp had called for after their calamitous final few minutes against the Cherries was followed by a frustrating 2-2 draw against the Hammers which left them looking anything but title contenders.
Those recent dropped points ensured Liverpool started the game six points behind leaders Chelsea but they began with plenty of intent, Lallana fizzing an early shot from long-range which was blocked by Calum Chambers. But Boro matched them for pace and endeavour with Fabio marking one of the better halves of his Boro career by drifting in from the left and firing a shot straight at Mignolet from the edge of the box.
The visitors snatched the lead on the half-hour when Nathaniel Clyne was given space to attack down the right and Lallana headed home his cross.
Moments later, Mignolet justified Klopp's decision by denying Fischer, who cut in from the Boro right and fired a rising shot from a tight angle.
Boro's anxiety to grab an equaliser almost caught them out when Roberto Firmino put through Sadio Mane, who hit a low shot across Victor Valdes and against the post.
Liverpool extended their lead on the hour mark when neat work by Georginio Wijnaldum set Lallana free on the right side of the box and the in-form midfielder crossed for Origi to sweep home the simplest of chances.
And eight minutes later it was game as Origi crossed for Lallana to score his second from eight yards to fire Liverpool up to second, six points behind Chelsea.
M’Boro: Valdés, Barragán, Chambers, Gibson, Fabio, Forshaw, Clayton (Leadbitter 56), De Roon, Traoré, Negredo (Rhodes 77), Fischer (Downing 56). Subs not used: Bernardo, Guzan, Nsue, Nugent.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Lallana (Lucas 82), Henderson, Wijnaldum (Ejaria 87), Mané, Origi (Alexander-Arnold 90), Firmino. Goals: Lallana 29, 68 Origi 60 Subs not used: Karius, Moreno, Stewart, Woodburn.
Man of the match: Adam Lallana
Match rating: 8/10
Ref: Jonathan Moss