That was an invaluable win. And if there's anything more satisfying than a close win over the Bluenoses, it's an undeserved win!
We had some good spurts - dominating the first 10 minutes - but they were few and far between. Everton hardly deserved their goal but once they scored (or rather, once we scored for them - Hyypia hammering the ball into the right of the goal from six yards out) we didn't look like getting back in the game.
Until that fateful burst from Gerrard. He had been growing in influence, drifting into the middle, onto the left, looking for the ball, looking to go forward with the ball. Everton had a corner, we broke forward. Quickly; decisively. Voronin put Gerrard through and he charged past Hibbert into the box. The Everton man could only flail at the captain's jersey and make a lunge for the ball. Unfortunately for the blue half of Liverpool, his knee found Gerrard's thigh. He needed no more prompting to go down and the die was cast.
Red card for Hibbert; penalty for Liverpool.
Dirk Kuyt stepped up with aplomb and calmly slotted the penalty to Howard's left - sending the hapless 'keeper the wrong way.
Down to 10 men, Everton defended valiantly, even finding time, space and energy to attack. At times it was hard to tell who was at a disadvantage as Arteta and Yakubu combined for the Nigerian to flash a 30-yard shot just wide. But Liverpool were growing in confidence and the extra man soon told. Everton were caught on the break as Voronin surged into the box, cut back to let Stubbs slide by and then agonisingly scuffed his shot when trying to slot it inside the near post. Sissoko was put in by some clever inter-play around the edge of the box but after pulling the ball out of the air, he too scuffed his near-post shot. Riise had an excellent opportunity after Kuyt fortuitously found his way to the byline and clipped the ball back.
Just as the game looked to be slipping away to a 1-1 draw, deep into injury time, Liverpool drove forward in waves. Kuyt found space in the box, only to be denied by Howard but the rebound fell to Lucas and Gerrard's replacement drove the ball goalwards from 10 yards out. Phil Neville, stationed on the goal-line had no option but to try a (magnificent) diving save, but in saving a certain goal with his left arm, sealed Everton's fate.
He had to see red and referee Mark Clattenburg duely obliged. Kuyt now had a penalty to win the match and he struck the ball towards the bottom right corner of the goal, exactly where he had put his first. This was struck better, harder, wider and although Howard got his fingers to it, the big goalie could not save his team. Liverpool celebrated, Rafa celebrated and the Everton stewards generously let a few fan's onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes.
But still there was more time. In the dying seconds, Everton pumped the ball into the box. It fell to Lescott who looked to turn but was hauled down by Jamie Carragher who immediately looked to referee Clattenburg. In his only bad decision of the match, the Gosforth based referee (and his linesmen) had no decision and the match was over. Carragher, no doubt elated from his let-off, ran to the Liverpool fans and even Rafa had a rare outburst of emotion as he walked, fist pumping to the adoring fans.
It was the first Premier League game that we conceded the first goal and the team showed good character to put themselves in a position to win the game - however lucky the final result was. Three points is as good a tonic as we could've hoped for after the last few results. Now we need to build on the result, if not the performance, as we look to welcome high-flying and free-scoring Arsenal to Anfield next week.