Towards the end things got a little nervy around Anfield. Of course, towards the end the Reds were holding on to a slim lead against a stubborn opponent pushing hard for a leveller that would have dealt a massive blow to Liverpool's title challenge. Given all the times in recent seasons the club has stumbled just when things started to look up, a few nerves when things seemed on the verge of following that same old trend can be forgiven.
For most of the night, though, and starting on the roads outside of Anfield well before the match kicked off, it was a loud and raucous atmosphere the players were treated to, one that harked back to the club's famous European nights and gave a preview of what's in store for next season's mid-week ties against continental opposition. It left more than a few of the players impressed, including vice captain Daniel Agger.
"It reminded me a bit of the Champions League days," said the Danish centre half who arrived at Liverpool in 2006, just ahead of the club's second run to a Champions League final under Rafa Benitez. "It was amazing. It just shows how good a support we have and we have to give everything to try and win these games, because when you get support like that, it's difficult to describe."
The support shown by fans lining the roads outside Anfield as the players arrived and a Kop packed with flags and banners saw Liverpool start the match in a dominant mood, even if a deep and compact opponent and some highly dubious officiating kept the match close. In the end it was the right result for Agger and the supporters, though it was a much tougher road getting there than many had expected.
"At the end of the day it was three points and that was exactly what we came for," he said. "We wanted to close the game earlier—it was unnecessary to let them into the game. But sometimes it's like that and you have to defend and we did. We didn't keep the ball that well compared to the first half. I think we had them under control in the first half, and we should have continued like that. But that's football."
Nervier than expected but, in the end, the points are all that matter. The same will be true when Tottenham visit on Sunday, though with Spurs needing three points to keep their slim top four hopes alive, Anfield's next visitors should pose a rather different set of questions—ones of the sort this Liverpool side has shown itself adept at answering. And today, with Sunderland out of the way, the threat of Spurs is all Agger is concerned with.
"Every game we go into, we believe we can win," he said. "But we don't look further ahead—we look to the next game and try to go out and win that. It's actually quite simple—don't look ahead. Look at what's in front of you."
What's ahead of them is one more proverbial cup final—and, in all likelihood, another fired up Anfield crowd. What happens elsewhere and what might happen afterwards isn't especially worth dwelling on.