Middlesbrough v Liverpool - story of the match
Jurgen Klopp's decision to drop goalkeeper Lorus Karius was vindicated on a night when the brilliance of Adam Lallana swept Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Klopp replaced Karius - responsible for errors in recent games against Bournemouth and West Ham - with Simon Mignolet, and the Belgian responded with a brilliant one-handed save to deny Viktor Fischer moments after his side's opener.
Otherwise Mignolet saw little action as Liverpool gradually eased into top gear, building on Lallana's close-range opener on the half-hour to dominate the second period and increase their lead through Divock Origi then Lallana's second.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Lallana is like Litmanen, Benayoun and Beardsley put together. #tricky #lfc," actor and Liverpool fan Scot Williams (@scotwilliams).
Adam Lallana. The Liverpool man made the difference throughout, grabbing two of his side's goals, blocking a goal-bound effort from Marten de Roon and serving up Liverpool's second for Origi.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Mignolet pulled off a brilliant one-handed save to deny Fischer an equaliser moments after his side had gone ahead. In that one moment, Klopp's decision to drop Karius was justified.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
For all his cheery demeanour and his public proclamations of support, Klopp showed his ruthless streak by dumping Karius to the bench and bringing Mignolet back into the fray. No-one can argue it did not pay off. Aitor Karanka will have been pleased with his side's endeavour but this match highlighted a significant gulf in class - and why Boro are almost certain to face a relegation battle in the months ahead.
Victor Valdes 6
Ben Gibson 6
Adam Clayton 6
Alvaro Negredo 4
Viktor Fischer 6
Marten de Roon 6
Antonio Barragan 5
Calum Chambers 7
Adam Forshaw 5
Adama Traore 6
Stewart Downing (for Fischer, 55 mins) 5
Grant Leadbitter (for Clayton, 56 mins) 6
Jordan Rhodes (for Negredo, 77 mins) 5
Simon Mignolet 7
Nathaniel Clyne 7
Georginio Wijnaldum 5
Dejan Lovren 6
James Milner 6
Roberto Firmino 7
Jordan Henderson 7
Ragnar Klavan 7
Sadio Mane 8
Adam Lallana 9
Divock Origi 8
Lucas Leiva (for Lallana, 82 mins) 5
Ovie Ejaria (for Wijnaldum, 88 mins)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (for Origi, 90 mins)
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Middlesbrough v Swansea, Premier League (Saturday, December 17)
Everton v Liverpool, Premier League (Monday, December 19)