Steven Gerrard scores a penalty to give Liverpool another win at Anfield against a tricky Portsmouth side, that keeps the reds three points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Gerrard placed his penalty away nicely in the 75th minute and it was the goal that the reds had been looking for. Portsmouth certainly had a game plan and that was to keep the reds from getting any joy in front of goal.
The more the game went on the more the frustration started to show. With Kuyt seeing an effort hitting the post and Benayoun being victim to a last ditch tackle before he could take his chance, it seemed like Liverpool were going to need something a bit special to break the deadlock.
There were other opportunities for Liverpool. Kuyt had a shot that only hit the side netting and Gerrard had a shot saved by David James. Arbeloa also went close with a curling shot.
But it seemed that Portsmouth were happy to frustrate Liverpool and banked on the reds making some sort of mistake if they were to get more than a point from the game.
But it was totally the opposite after Bouba Diop handled the ball from a Liverpool corner to give the reds the chance to get their three points. And the Liverpool captain made no mistake to put the ball away.
Suddenly, Portsmouth were on the offensive for the last fifteen minutes. And it didn’t make for a comfortable finish to the game for any Liverpool fan. But the reds held it together and got those vital three points to stay clear at the top of the league.
Cheers of joy for the win and a few cheers for old Kop favourite Peter Crouch on his return to Anfield. Most of all, three very valuable points.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher, Aurelio, Pennant (Benayoun 63), Alonso, Leiva Lucas, Babel (Riera 71), Gerrard (Keane 90), Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Agger, Mascherano.
Goals: Gerrard 76 pen.
Portsmouth: James, Pamarot, Kaboul, Distin, Belhadj, Utaka (Defoe 85), Davis, Diop, Diarra (Hughes 80), Armand Traore (Kranjcar 64), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Kanu, Mvuemba, Hreidarsson.
Booked: Diarra, Diop.
Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).
Post Match Comments:
Rafa Benitez after the game:
Clearly the win was more important than the performance. After the victory against Chelsea it was important to get the three points tonight.
We changed four players and still won the game and the message for the squad and everyone is we can make changes and still win. We used players with different qualities and we always had belief we would score.
Portsmouth are a good team and we needed to be patient and keep passing the ball and creating opportunities. Being patient was the key word for us tonight.
Everybody could see Portsmouth were defending well and they had a lot of bodies behind the ball so it was not easy to find the space. So we had to be precise with our final pass.
We were very dominant in the first half and controlled the game. We had our chances and we regained the ball quickly.
I thought the second half was more open and at the end we were a little nervous because they were playing a lot of long balls up to Crouch.
I don’t remember Pepe having a shot to save. Okay, we won the game with a penalty but we had other chances.