Sports - Football - Premier League - Match Report
Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth
Liverpool recorded their seventh consecutive home win on their 118th anniversary against rock-bottom Portsmouth.
The win takes the Reds up to fifth, one point ahead of Manchester City and one behind Tottenham, who both have games in hand, two and one respectively, in the race for the fourth and last Champions League qualification place.
Rafa's usual favourites Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva started on the bench for Liverpool and were not much missed on the night.
Liverpool looked sloppy and shaky again in the opening 20 minutes though, wasting good build-ups and chances high or wide.
However, once broken, Portsmouth caved in conceding three goals in under six minutes.
The first breakthrough came from an error by Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown.
He could just watch and curse himself after he let Steven Gerrard chase down Ricardo Rocha's cross and block the goalkeeper's clearance kick for it to ricochet to Maxi Rodriguez, his cross serving Fernando Torres an easy tap-in to make it 1-0.
Torres was involved in the next two goals, too, slipping and clipping the ball over to Ryan Babel and Alberto Aquilani respectively, for them to make no mistake of netting both chances.
Thanks to Pompey's first blooper, Liverpool got up and going and could go into the break much more confident.
The fans at the ground reflected that change of mood, too, with a subdued and unusually quiet atmosphere taken over by cheers, chants and songs - the more common way and sound of things at Anfield.
The second half continued with Liverpool dominating possession and chances.
Torres to elegantly cornered his way through Pompey's back line to make it four and seal the win for the Reds 13 minutes from time.
Portsmouth did get a consolation goal with just a couple of minutes remaining - Nadir Belhadj taking advantage of some defensive confusion by Liverpool to put the ball past Pepe Reina with ease.
This is a crucial win for Liverpool.
They will be hoping they can take the gained confidence into their next match against Lille, where they have to turn around a one-goal deficit to make it into the last quarter finals.
The fans made it clear on Monday night: They are not happy with the current situation and state of things and want change - off the field especially.
Liverpool Reina; Johnson (Kelly 70), Carragher, Agger, Insua; Aquilani, Mascherano, Rodriguez, Gerrard (Benayoun 75), Babel; Torres (Ngog 80). Subs not used Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Kuyt, Lucas.
Portsmouth Ashdown; Finnan, Wilson, Rocha, Hreidarsson (Abeyie 76); Brown, Bouba Diop (Mokoena 64), O'Hara (Webber 85), Dindane; Piquionne, Belhadj. Bookings Dindane 78, Mokoena 78. Subs not used Mullins, Hughes, Kanu.
1st half stats:
On target: 3-1
Free kicks: 7-3
2nd half stats:
On target: 6-2
Free kicks: 9-5
Sky Sports Stats:
Possession: 64.5%-35.5% (BBC: 58%-42%)
Passing Success: 86.6%-74.4%
Territorial Advantage: 55.9%-44.1%
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Man of the match: Fernando Torres