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By Sam Lyon
2210: Liverpool can look ahead with a degree of renewed confidence, then, to two massive matches coming up - the Europa League match against Lille on Thursday and then Sunday's Premier League clash at Manchester United - while for Portsmouth, it's all about their FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham or Fulham with relegation a near certainty. I'm predicting that Steven Gerrard incident will run for a couple of days just yet so keep your eyes peeled for that one peeps! Otherwise, be back here tomorrow with Chris Bevan for a busy night of Champions League, Premier League and lower league action. Nice.
Owen in Claygate via text: "Hopefully Rafa will have finally learnt now that we don't need to play Lucas AND Mascherano."
2157: A comfortable win in the end for Liverpool, then, who push up into fifth and within a sniff again of fourth spot. A couple of concerns, though, in that Javier Mascherano ended the game limping and the worry that Steven Gerrard could be retrospectively punished for that forearm smash on Michael Brown. Thinking about it, though, can the Football Association take action even though referee Stuart Attwell saw it? If only a sports journalist were here to answer that.
2155: FULL-TIME Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth
2154: A word on that Anfield crowd - it's just over 40,000 and is the lowest on this ground for more than five years apparently. So there you go. Not a great deal happening out on the pitch at the moment, though Pompey are admirably fighting until the end.
Portsmouth goal: The comeback starts here! Two minutes left on the clock - not including stoppage time - and Portsmouth get on the scoresheet, Nadir Belhadj presented with the simplest of tap-ins from Frederic Piquionne's cross-shot.
2148: GOALFLASH Liverpool 4-1 Portsmouth (Belhadj)
2147: With the clock ticking down, it's safe to say Liverpool will end the night on 51 points, one off fourth-placed Tottenham, one ahead of Manchester City and five points more than Aston Villa, who have three games in hand, back in seventh. So - who's going to grab fourth?
2145: All of a sudden both sets of players are guilty of going through the motions. Danny Webber comes on for Portsmouth midfielder Jamie O'Hara.
2141: Alberto Aquilani, beaming like the Cheshire Cat, curls one in from 20-odd yards out but Jamie Ashdown gets down low to save.
2140: And that's your lot from Fernando Torres, the Spaniard greeted by a standing ovation as he makes way for David Ngog.
Liverpool goal: Alberto Aquilani is rather impressing on only his fifth league start of the season and he sets up Fernando Torres for the hosts' fourth, the Spaniard turning inside Ricardo Rocha and slamming inside the near post.
2134: Michael Brown - not everybody's favourite player by any stretch - has clearly got up Steven Gerrard's nose and, for my money, the Liverpool skipper is lucky to remain on the field after slamming a forearm into the back of the Pompey midfielder's head. Referee Stuart Atwell gives the foul but nothing more, and I have to say that's a big let-off. Rafael Benitez immediately subs Gerrard and on comes Yossi Benayoun.
2132: Fernando Torres is fed by Maxi Rodriguez's cut-back from the byline, but his right-foot shot is too tame and it is easily claimed by Jamie Ashdown in the Pompey goal.
2131: Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly comes on for Glen Johnson.
2130: Excellent one-touch football from Portsmouth, with the impressive Jamie O'Hara to the fore, but the chance is cleared with Frederic Piquionne and Aruna Dindane lurking.
2127: Well well well - Glen Johnson, charging into the box, goes down under Nadir Belhadj's challenge, but no penalty is the decision. Might have been a touch lucky, there, the Pompey player because it doesn't look like he got any of the ball on the replay.
Anon via text: "There's a swagger about Liverpool that reminds me of last seasons run-in, perhaps good signs for the remainder, or another false dawn?"
mechimp on Twitter:
"Well good game to Pompey for not giving up when 3-0 down... they won't go down for lack of trying."
2123: Frederic Piquionne, clearly frustrated at his lack of chances at the right end, tries his luck with a header at his own goal but Jamie Ashdown plucks it out of the sky. Decent back-pass as it turnes out. Aaron Mokoena comes on for Papa Boupa Diop in the Pompey midfield.
2120: A Steven Gerrard corner finds its way to Maxi Rodriguez on the edge of the area - but the Argentine's low shot flies wide.
2119: And still the Pompey faithful belt out the tunes at Anfield. Lovely stuff.
2115: Much more like it from Portsmouth, Nadir Belhadj sprinting past Glen Johnson down the left and cutting it back for Michael Brown, but home keeper Pepe Reina does well to tip the midfielder's left-foot snap-shot over the bar.
2114: Aim, ready, fire... Ryan Babel sets up Steven Gerrard but the midfielder's curled effort limps over the bar.
2112: Portsmouth are certainly pressing better this half - but Liverpool are just as dominant. Alberto Aquilani is certainly enjoying himself and he feeds Steven Gerrard only for the midfielder to be denied by a smart save from Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown at point-blank range, and then Ryan Babel clips a fine effort at goal that Ashdown does brilliantly to tip onto the bar and away.
2109: Glen Johnson is fouled 35-40 yards out and Daniel Agger lines one up... but it's charged down.
2105: They do - and no doubt with a rocket in their behinds. We're back under way.
2103: Strange delay at Anfield - Portsmouth are still in the dressing room. Do they dare return?
Paolo from Enfield via text: "Juve were 3-0 up at home against a bottom place team and look what happened to them at the weekend!"
2055: I dare say you can't really blame them, but Portsmouth are failing to show the mettle that has typified their recent displays, and boy are Liverpool taking advantage. The visitors might be affording them the freedom of Anfield, but fair play to the Reds for taking full advantage - if things continue in the second half as they finished in the first, Portsmouth could be staring at the wrong end of a rout. Avram Grant has his work cut out at half time and no mistake.
2046: That's better from Portsmouth - Jamie O'Hara and Nadir Belhadj play their part in a nice move but Frederic Piquionne can't quite wrap his foot around the cross.
2044: Respite! Frederic Piquionne has a sight of goal just inside the box, but the French striker screws wide.
2042: Jamie Carragher - yes Jamie Carragher - spoons an attempted lob wide of the Portsmouth goal as Liverpool continue their hunt for number four. Pompey manager Avram Grant looks like he's bitten into a beautiful juicy blackcurrent only to realise it's a dog's doings.
2037: As I'm typing it should be four. Fernando Torres rattles the post with a cracking right-foot shot - and moments later Steven Gerrard screws wide from 10 yards out when it looked easier to score. Liverpool started the day with a goal difference nine worse that fourth-placed Tottenham's - that might just be wiped out tonight.
2036: It's the first time in six months that Liverpool have scored three times in a league game and we're barely half an hour in. Portsmouth, who have battled so valiantly since entering administration, all of a sudden look a side bereft of belief, hope, commitment...
Liverpool goal: Uh-oh... Liverpool are rampant and this could be a cricket score at this rate. Alberto Aquilani grabs his first goal in a Liverpool shirt, latching onto Fernando Torres's back-heel to slide into the corner at the near post from 12 yards out.
2033: GOALFLASH Liverpool 3-0 Portsmouth (Aquilani)
Liverpool goal: Two minutes and 20 seconds after their opener, and it's two for Liverpool. Fernando Torres is the creator this time, his persistence in the Portsmouth box paying off for Ryan Babel, who pokes into the corner from his lay-off.
2030: GOALFLASH Liverpool 2-0 Portsmouth (Babel)
2029: That's the 21st time this season that Portsmouth have conceded the opening goal in a league game - and rather than a cheer it was almost like an audible sigh of relief from the Anfield crowd.
Liverpool goal: Oh dear. Portsmouth keeper Jamie Ashdown's clearance is charged down by the onrushing Steven Gerrard and Maxi Rodriguez squares for Fernando Torres to tap in the opener.
2028: GOALFLASH Liverpool 1-0 Portsmouth (Torres)
2027: Fine defending by Ricardo Rocha to cut out Maxi Rodriguez's cross with Fernando Torres lurking.
2024: Portsmouth having to dig in a bit at the moment, with Liverpool finding their passing rhythm - and yet, in Frederic Piquionne, the visitors have a striker who looks capable of causing the home defence plenty of problems.
2017: Alberto Aquilani, Fernando Torres and Maxi Rodriguez combine on the edge of the box to set up Steven Gerrard, but the midfielder's curled effort flies over.
2016: Liverpool working the ball well up to Portsmouth's box, but the visitors holding their own at the moment - and not looking too shabby on the counter attack either. Very open.
2013: Quite a few empty seats dotted about Anfield, by the way, which is a little bit surprising given the magnitude of this match, no?
2009: Certainly a lively ol' start at Anfield, with Portsmouth striker Frederic Piquionne the latest to try his luck. I see goals in this one. The visitors' always excellent supporters in fine voice again too.
2006: Pepe Reina flaps at a long ball into the box but Aruna Dindane can only acrobatically turn the rebound over the bar.
2005: Bright start, this, from Liverpool and there are huge appeals for a penalty when Fernando Torres's shot comes off Ricardo Rocha's arm. TV replays suggests it was unintentional, but the Portuguese defender's arm was outstretched... hhmm.
2004: Pompey defender Mark Wilson pulls Fernando Torres back wide of the box a minute in - but he makes amends by heading away the the resulting free-kick from Steven Gerrard.
2002: We are under way, Liverpool attacking the Kop end first up.
2001: I wonder how many Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa fans are watching by the way?
edward_dfc on Twitter:
"I'm slightly over confident on this one - 3-0 Pompey, Dindane double and Mokoena to come on and seal the points!"
ramshyam on 606:
"I'll go 2-2... Liverpool come from behind in the 86th minute for the draw."
Liverpool fan via text: "Would it be brave of me to predict a 4-0 win to Liverpool? I say Torres hat-trick and Aquilani to grab a goal."
1955: The teams are in the tunnel and we're not far away from kick-off. Will Liverpool get the win they need to leapfrog Manchester City into fifth spot, or will Portsmouth once again break the shackles and give the Premier League another sight of what it may well be missing next campaign? We'll find out soon enough.
AdZY16 on Twitter:
"With games against Chelsea and United to come before the end of the season, tonight has to be a must win for Liverpool or else no top four."
1950: Avram Grant: "I understand the pressure on Liverpool - I've been with big teams and pressure all my life - but it's a good pressure for them because it can push you on to good things. As for us, we don't go into any games with fear and we will be trying our best to put on a show for our supporters."
1947: Rafael Benitez: "We showed character against Lille even if we didn't play very well and I'm confident things will change and improve tonight. Some will think my selection is very positive but always my idea is to keep the balance."
neonMoongod on 606:
"Congratulations on taking so long to mention 'the injured one' - I lost a fiver betting you'd have him in the first paragraph."
oaktowers on Twitter:
"Even if we are relegated we'll still go down fighting, even if according to your biased opinion we are 'rubbish'."
1942: Seems the Liverpool team has buoyed quite a few Reds fans' spirits out there. Maybe
isn't the only one who starts on the road to recovery tonight? Oh yes - I'm as capable of a hamfisted squeeze of David Beckham's name into my commentary as the next man. The Reds looking to make it seven home wins on the spin in the league, by the way. It all points to a Pompey defeat no?
1939: TEAM NEWS Liverpool v Portsmouth A rare Liverpool outing for Alberto Aquilani at Anfield, then, the Italian comes in for only his fifth start of the season at the expense of Lucas, with Maxi Rodriguez replacing Dirk Kuyt. Ricardo Rocha and Pape Bouba Diop come into the Portsmouth XI, while Jamie Ashdown deputises for the injured David James in the visiting goal."
Ollie, Manchester via text: "Liverpool have no option but to win tonight and I think they will do just enough to get three points. I don't care much for them but I tipped them to finished fourth a while back and I still reckon that's where they'll finish."
sculleroy on Twitter:
"Interesting stat - Liverpool have never won a Monday evening game under Benitez (5D 3L), Monday games in the day - 3 games 3 wins."
1932: And what about Portsmouth? Crisis club off the pitch, a team playing with admirable spirit, freedom and no little belief on it - and
one win away from a second FA Cup final in three years
no less. Not that any of that disguises the fact that the south-coasters have been proper rubbish at times this season - they are not bottom of the league without cause. They are also without a win at Anfield since 1951, on a run of just one win in 10 Premier League matches and have lost 14 of their 15 matches against teams in the top half of the Premier League. Liverpool supporters suddenly swell with hope...
D_J_Bates on Twitter:
"Barring possibly Bennayoun, Rafa isn't far off picking the team Liverpool fans have been waiting all season to see."
1927: Of course, as well as looking to reignite their push for a top-four finish, Liverpool are also after revenge after
going down 2-0 at Fratton Park
before Fratton Park. They must reverse the form charts if they are to do so, though, having won just one of their last four league games, failing to score in three of them and including a defeat to Wigan a week ago. Saying that, it's when their backs are against the walls that the best teams come out fighting... right?
1922: So where's your money folks?
or text in via 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). Do it.
1919: Well done those of you who answered 'Liverpool'. Anyone who answered 'Portsmouth' - get to the back of the class and stop playing silly beggars. Yep, while Portsmouth's players and fans cut loose safe in the knowledge relegation is pretty much inevitable, Liverpool,
out of the Champions League,
facing a similar fate
in the Europa League,
off the pace in the race for fourth
must be desperate for victory tonight. Will the pressure inspire or stifle?
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