Boro dent Reds' title bid

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Tuncay Sanli struck for the second time in four days as Middlesbrough dealt Liverpool's Barclays Premier League title hopes a fatal blow with a 2-0 win.

The Turkey international sealed Boro's first league win in 15 attempts with a well-taken 63rd-minute effort after Xabi Alonso's own goal 14 minutes before the break had given Gareth Southgate's men a platform.

The Reds, who defeated Real Madrid on their own turf in midweek, were a shadow of the side which triumphed at the Bernabeu Stadium, although Nabil El Zhar and Dirk Kuyt passed up glorious opportunities.

Gary O'Neil forced a good reaction save from Jose Reina from Stewart Downing's 11th-minute cross. Opposite number Brad Jones had already kept out close-range efforts from Nabil El Zhar and Dirk Kuyt.

When the opening goal finally arrived it came at the other end. Alonso instinctively stuck stuck out a leg as Downing's 31st-minute corner sped across the six-yard box but only succeeded in diverting the ball past the helpless Reina.

Boro might have extended their lead four minutes before the break when Downing robbed full-back Martin Skrtel and forced Reina into a good save.

Liverpool should have been back on level terms within three minutes of the restart when Steven Gerrard ghosted into the box and pulled the ball back invitingly for El Zhar who hammered his shot over the bar.

The second goal came with 63 minutes gone. O'Neil slid the ball into the path of Jeremie Aliadiere down the right and when he squared for Tuncay, he guided his shot past Reina into the bottom corner.

Brad Jones saved from Gerrard and Kuyt failed to connect with his skipper's cross with the goal begging as the game slipped further from Liverpool's grasp.

Downing and Tuncay combined to open up the Reds once again and present Marlon King with a glorious opportunity but Reina made a two-handed save.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Nabil El Zhar
Stewart Downing
Gary O'Neil
Jose Reina
Tuncay Sanli
Premier League
Xabi Alonso
Jeremie Aliadiere
Marlon King
Gareth Southgate
Dirk Kuyt
Steven Gerrard
Brad Jones
Martin Skrtel

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