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Ibe inspires Liverpool to victory over Boro
THREE second half Middlesbrough goals were not enough to prevent a Jordan Ibe inspired Liverpool Under-21s from sealing a 4-3 win at Victoria Park.
Jacob Butterfield, Emmanuel Ledesma and Seb Hines all found the net in an exciting fixture which saw Boro bounce back from three goals down.
Middlesbrough almost snatched an equaliser late on when a probing run down the right ended with Curtis Main being denied under the bar.
Liverpool took the lead inside two minutes. After Ibe's brilliant run and cross was only half cleared, midfielder Craig Roddan crashed in a sweet volley in off the inside of the post.
After Main had placed a couple of efforts in to the arms of goalkeeper Dan Ward, Ibe was the architect of three more too.
After running beyond full-back Birger Meling, he rolled perfectly in to the path of the on rushing Joao Teixeiria to finish in the 20th minute.
Three minutes later a deep cross from the left was also volleyed unselfishly at the back post for Jordan Rossiter to apply the finish.
Luke Williams did appear to pull one back before half-time when he slotted beyond Ward, only to be ruled offside.
Immediately after the restart Butterfield did reduce the arrears in fantastic fashion. He crashed a low drive in from 25 yards beyond Ward.
But normal service soon resumed when the outstanding Ibe went on another mazy run before laying off to Teixeiria. The winger beat his man before firing low inside Jayson Leutwiler's corner.
Middlesbrough were far more attack minded in the second half though. A shoot-on-sight policy led to Ledesma hitting his own stunner from distance.
Then Hines made the latter stages interesting when he rose in the box to nod down Ledesma's free-kick beyond Ward in in the 66th minute.
Despite Middlesbrough's attempts, the fourth which would have levelled things never arrived.
Middlesbrough: Leutwiler, Bennett, Hines, Jackson, Melling (Burn 75), Morris, Butterfield, Park, Ledesma (Wyke 84), Williams, Main. Subs: Coddington, Kitching, Jones.
Liverpool: Ward, Kelly, Smith, Jones, Ilori, Roddan, Ibe, Rossiter, Ngoo (Dunn 69), Brannagan, Teixeira (McLaughlin 77). Subs: Mersin, Paez, Lussey.