|THE GAME IN PICTURES
Xabi Alonso scores the 3rd minute penalty
Gerrard caught in a tangle
Craig Bellamy increased Charlton's relegation worries by sealing a second successive Liverpool away win at the Valley with a late goal.
Bellamy finished superbly in the 82nd minute from Steve Finnan's pass. There was a hint of offside and referee Howard Webb went to consult a linesman before awarding the goal which made it 2-0.
Liverpool, ahead with Xabi Alonso's third-minute penalty, should have wrapped it up earlier as Dirk Kuyt, Mark Gonzalez, Bellamy and Steven Gerrard missed good chances before Bellamy and then Gerrard, with a last-gasp curler, secured the win.
Charlton manager Les Reed made five changes after a 5-1 thrashing at Tottenham last week and gave Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink his first Premiership start since October 16.
Thomas Myhre took over in goal from Scott Carson, who was ineligible under the terms of his loan-transfer from Anfield, while Matt Holland and Dennis Rommedahl replaced Bryan Hughes and the injured Radostin Kishishev. Djimi Traore, the former Liverpool defender, was also back after a knock.
But Rafael Benitez made only two changes from the team which hammered Fulham 4-0, restoring Sami Hyypia and Mark Gonzalez to the starting line-up with top-scorer Peter Crouch on the bench.
Liverpool were handed the lead after less than three minutes when Traore's wild attempt to clear a left-wing cross resulted in him catching Jermaine Pennant's head with his boot and Xabi Alonso dispatched the penalty.
Traore was booked by referee Howard Webb for his clumsy action while Myhre's first touch was picking the ball out of the net.
And the keeper was beaten again just two minutes later as Charlton started in catastrophic style - but skipper Luke Young cleared off the line from Craig Bellamy.
Steven Gerrard had almost got through after a one-two link-up with the Welshmen before Bellamy, following good work by Dirk Kuyt, dribbled through on his own to go past Myhre before Young's crucial intervention.
Reid's free-kick which clipped the Liverpool wall finally brought Charlton some relief with a corner but Liverpool's defence dealt easily with it.
Traore made partial amends by tackling Kuyt when the Dutchman looked certain to add a second goal from eight yards before the quarter-hour mark.
Liverpool were turning on the style that has brought them two successive 4-0 league wins. And it was Traore again to the rescue when Charlton amazingly survived again as he acrobatically cleared Pennant's shot off the line two minutes later.
Charlton could have been at least four down by this stage and there were 18 minutes gone before Jose Reina had to make any kind of save for Liverpool - smothering Darren Bent's hopeful cross-shot.
But outplayed Charlton had a golden chance to equalise on 22 minutes when Reina could only push away Reid's shot and Hermann Hreidarsson hooked the rebound over an empty goal.
Gonzalez presented Kuyt with another chance to double Liverpool's lead 15 minutes from the break but the striker's shot missed Myhre's right post by a yard when he should have done far better.
Bent was doing his best to fire the Charlton attack with some selfless running but Hasselbaink, who has been troubled by a thigh injury for several weeks, remained a peripheral figure.
When he did move into a goalscoring position, Rommedahl's pass to him was cut out by Alonso.
At least Charlton were beginning to give Liverpool a few problems but they were still in shock from a nightmare start.
Gerrard was at the heart of everything going forward for Liverpool and Charlton were often at full stretch to keep their deficit to just the one goal.
And Myhre had to stretch his frame to keep out a Gonzalez header after Bellamy took advantage of ample space on the right to provide a telling far-post cross on 39 minutes.
HT: Charlton 0 Liverpool 1
It was grim news at the start of the second half for Charlton when talisman Reid failed to reappear and was replaced by Darren Ambrose. The former Tottenham midfielder had been battling a hamstring problem all week.
Within four minutes, Myhre had to make a flying save to keep out Alonso's 25-yard blast and then Gonzalez missed a simple header from the corner which followed.
Myhre was soon in action again, diving to smother Gerrard's low shot from distance and then floundering to reach a terrible back-pass by Amady Faye which went out for a corner.
Charlton were testing the patience of their supporters and again could not seem to get going at the start of the second period.
Faye was finally removed - amid a mixture of boos and cheers - and replaced by Hughes just before the hour mark.
But Charlton had to survive another close shave when Bellamy pulled the ball back from the left for Kuyt whose low drive bounced away off a post with Myhre helpless.
Pennant and Bellamy combined down the right to feed Kuyt again in the 65th minute but the striker's shot was just off target as Hreidarsson's tackle came in.
Charlton's plight was summed up by Ambrose letting the ball slip out of play under no pressure and there were more howls of derision from the stands. Yet Charlton were still only a goal behind.
Liverpool replaced Gonzalez with Luis Garcia but it was another blow for Charlton when key defender Young had to go off injured and was replaced by Souleymane Diawara for the last 20 minutes.
John Arne Riise and Gerrard both put extravagant volleys high, wide and not-so-handsome as Liverpool somehow failed to build on their narrow lead.
Charlton nearly made them pay when Rommedahl's delightful cross from the right picked out Ambrose at the far post but the substitute volleyed way over the bar 15 minutes from the end.
And Addicks should certainly have been on terms two minutes later when Talal El Karkouri's cross was met by Bent who took one touch to control and then shot wide of the far post.
And his miss was made more painful when Liverpool wrapped up the points with a second goal on eight minutes from time.
Bellamy broke from the back of a defender to meet Steve Finnan's through ball from the right and applied a superb finish.
Just to rub salt in, Gerrard curled home a beauty for Liverpool's third on 88 minutes.
Bill Pearce, PA
(Back to top)
(Back to top)