Liverpool put behind their bad run of results by finishing their home fixtures for 2009 with a victory over ten man Wolves at Anfield.
Second half goals from Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun secured all three points for the Reds, after Wolves defender Stephen Ward sent off for a second yellow card.
With Javier Mascherano out suspended, Alberto Aquilani started only his second game for the club since his £18million move from Roma in the summer.
Dirk Kuyt dropped to the bench, needing rest according to Rafa Benitez, and Yossi Benayoun started in midfield.
Liverpool’s first half performance was lacklustre and there seemed to be no source of inspiration, an all too familiar situation this season.
Steven Gerrard was arguably lucky to stay on the pitch after at least two incidents of late challenges. The Reds skipper however remained on the pitch, something which proved vital shortly into the second half.
Ward got his marching orders ten minutes after the break when he brought down Lucas Liverpool’s right side. After being shown a yellow card earlier in the game for a tug on Benayoun’s shirt, the defender thought he’d got away with his second offence when referee Andre Marriner booked Christopher Berra.
Liverpool players crowded the referee to point out his mistaken identity mistake, with Pepe Reina running the full length of the pitch to demonstrate. The frustrations were rewarded though when Marriner eventually gave Ward his deserved marching orders and recinded Berra’s yellow card.
The red card changed the games and with Wolves down to ten men, Liverpool started to find some edge going forward.
It wasn’t long before Emiliano Insua’s inch perfect cross from the left wing was met by a powerful header from Gerrard right in front of goal to give Liverpool the lead.
The relief in Gerrard’s goal with obvious, celebrating in front of the Kop – his first goal from open play in 13 games.
The Reds continued to chase forward looking for their second goal to secure the victory and it came when Benayoun collected the ball on the right side of the goal from another Insua cross. The Israeli turned his man and saw his shot deflected in to double Liverpool’s lead.
Late on Dirk Kuyt made a brief appearance, whilst Aquliani – who had a solid performance – lasted 82 minutes before he was replaced by a lively Dani Pacheco. Jay Spearing replaced Benayoun, who appeared to have picked up a slight knock, minutes later.
Liverpool now go to Aston Villa on 29th December, hoping fortunes are changing after a dreary first half to the season.
Team Line-ups and Substitutions
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Aurelio (Kuyt 76), Insua, Carragher, Aquilani (Pacheco 84), Gerrard, Benayoun (Spearing 88), Lucas, Torres.
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Darby, Skrtel, Ngog, Pacheco.
Wolves: Hahnemann, Stearman, Craddock, Ward, Berra, Foley, Henry, Jarvis, Milijas (Mancienne 62), Ebanks-Blake (Iwelumo 66), Doyle (Elokobi 58).
Subs not used: Hennessey, Surman, Castillo, Maierhofer.
Referee: Andre Marriner