Torres rescues Liverpool draw
Fernando Torres rescued Liverpool a point against Middlesbrough at the Riverside - but surely Liverpool's Premiership ambitions must now be all over. George Boateng gave Boro the early lead.
David Wheater headed over as Boro started brightly and Pepe Reina scuffed his clearance just past Jeremie Aliadiere to increase the Kop nerves.
Mark Schwarzer kept out Steven Gerrard's fierce effort, with Sami Hyypia heading too high from the corner.
Wheater was flagged for offside as his header sailed over. But Boro were testing the visitors' backline and deservedly took the lead on 26 minutes.
Boateng lost Gerrard in the midfield before finding Stewart Downing on the wing.
He centred and Gary O'Neil and Tuncay combined to return the ball to Boateng who fired into the empty net.
Gerrard dummied a free-kick five minutes later to allow Steve Finnan a crack at goal. And Schwarzer had to scramble across his goalline to make the save after a deflection.
The Aussie keeper frustrated Liverpool further by blocking Yossi Benayoun's volley eight minutes before the break.
Liverpool were aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty within a minute of the restart when Robert Huth appeared to barge Andriy Voronin to the ground.
Benitez's men might have fallen further behind four minutes later when Reina suffered a rush of blood.
The keeper dashed out to the right touchline to confront Aliadiere in pursuit of Downingâs pass but never had a hope of getting there before the striker.
The Frenchman rounded him with ease but with no red shirts in support, saw his cross sail across the empty goal.
Half-time sub Ryan Babel saw his dipping effort fly inches wide with Schwarzer rooted to the spot.
But Reina needed the help of a post to keep out Downingâs 67th-minute shot, with OâNeil spurning a glorious chance from the rebound.
Four minutes later, Torres came to the rescue as he drilled home from 25 yards after good work from Babel.