Jurgen Klopp’s decision to drop goalkeeper Loris 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 mightily impressed, 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.
Boro boss Aitor Karanka immediately switched his sights to Saturday’s crucial relegation clash against Swansea after conceding Liverpool were a class apart.
Karanka, whose side earned draws against Arsenal and Manchester City, said: “We’ve played the top of the league teams this season and we have competed against every one of them but (against Liverpool) it was impossible.
“Liverpool were much better than us, in their intensity, in everything. When they were winning 2-0 they kept the same intensity, they wanted every ball and they moved the ball at amazing speed.
“It is not a coincidence that they are where they are in the table and they are having a good season and they are candidates to win this league.
“But we just have to keep going. We can’t forget the good season we are having so far. We have to recover as soon as possible because we have an important game on Saturday.”