Torres hits vital winner for Reds
Liverpool won 2-1 and striker Fernando Torres ended his six-match goal drought with the winner against Blackburn Rovers to provide a much-needed boost at Anfield.
Goalkeeper Paul Robinson had kept the Reds at bay until Sotirios Kyrgiakos' 48th-minute header and although a Jamie Carragher own goal quickly levelled things up, Torres struck only his second of the season soon after. It ended a run of seven matches without a victory in all competitions and although it was still not enough to lift Liverpool out of the bottom three, the result came as a welcome relief.
Torres, starved of service, has looked woefully out of form with his only goal coming in the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the end of August. However, if the Spanish international could have chosen any team to play against it would have been Rovers, against whom he has now scored five times in their last four meetings.
And it can be no coincidence Liverpool's only two Premier League victories have been as a result of Torres applying the decisive finish. It was the very least representatives of New England Sports Ventures, in the crowd after their £300m buy-out just over a week ago, will have wanted to see. It may have been for their benefit that there was a guest appearance by Gerry Marsden to sing a live rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
The change in the pre-match routine appeared to have the desired effect on Liverpool but, although it was as positive a first half as they had put in under manager Roy Hodgson, it still failed to produce a goal. That was in part due to Robinson, who was at his sharpest to deny the hosts on several occasions.
His best save came in only the eighth minute when Torres' ball around the corner to Maxi Rodriguez saw the Argentinian international cross low for Joe Cole but his first-time shot was blocked by the goalkeeper and a stretching Raul Meireles drove the rebound wide. Kyrgiakos's header from Steven Gerrard's corner was also kept out by Robinson, with the goalkeeper then diving to his left to deny Gerrard who had launched a quick counter-attack from a Rovers corner.
Blackburn were content to sit back but their task was made slightly more difficult when they lost defensive midfielder Steven Nzonzi to a hamstring injury. The Red tide continued up to half-time with a Meireles piledriver pole-axing Michel Salgado and Lucas Leiva just failing to get his header on target from Kyrgiakos' flick-on of Gerrard's resulting corner.
After the interval Benjani Mwaruwari came on for Nikola Kalinic but the second half was only three minutes old when Liverpool finally took the lead. Kyrgiakos had been a threat in the air all afternoon and when he rose to powerfully meet Gerrard's corner Martin Olsson could not keep the ball from going into the net.
Two minutes later it should have been 2-0 as Robinson only half-saved Rodriguez's header from Gerrard's quickly-taken corner and Kyrgiakos appeared to be fouled by Phil Jones in challenging for the rebound. The ball dropped to Rodriguez but his effort was charged down. Such has been Liverpool's luck this season that Rovers went straight down the other end and scored as Paul Konchesky's goalline clearance from El-Hadji Diouf's shot cannoned back off Carragher and into the net.
But a sign the Reds' fortunes were changing came in the 53rd minute when Torres ghosted in at the far post to side-foot home Cole's cross. Cole was replaced by David Ngog with 11 minutes remaining but it was Blackburn who were the ones pushing for the next goal. It was not entirely comfortable for Liverpool, who were restricted to the counter-attack with one Gerrard pass almost picking out Torres, but they found the resilience which had been missing for most of the season.
Hodgson had described the match as "must win". His side did that and, despite their lowly position, are just six points from fifth-placed Tottenham. However, they are going to have to build on this by putting a run of good results together if their campaign is really going to turn a corner. Hodgson, whose position has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, is not out of the woods yet.