Dec 14 (Reuters) - Adam Lallana scored twice as Liverpool returned to second in the Premier League with a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough on Wednesday that revived their title push.
Liverpool, who lost to Bournemouth and drew with West Ham United in their last two games, took the lead when Nathaniel Clyne’s superb curling cross was met by Lallana at the far post to head home in the 29th minute.
They doubled their advantage in the 60th when Divock Origi put the finishing touch to a swift passing move to score for the fifth straight game in all competitions and Lallana wrapped up the points from close range.
The victory moved Liverpool up to second on 34 points, above Arsenal on goals scored, but still six points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp had dropped keeper Loris Karius after the German made high-profile mistakes against West Ham and Bournemouth, restoring Simon Mignolet to the starting lineup.
Mignolet put in an impressive display, making one superb save to deny Viktor Fischer at the near post in the first half, and now looks certain to start the Merseyside derby at Everton on Monday.
“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,” Klopp 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.”
For Lallana it continues to be a breakthrough season at Liverpool, with the midfielder having added goals to his game following a switch to a central playmaker role at the start of the campaign.
His goals took his league tally to six for the season, one more than his previous highest for a Premier League campaign since joining Liverpool.
“About a year ago I had sat him (Lallana) 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 said.
Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond