Liverpool claimed the spoils in the 212th Merseyside Derby with a 2-0 win over Everton. But in truth it was a dour affair with both sides being guilty of a lack of ambition, and the only real difference between the teams was who Lady Luck chose to support on the day...
Javier Mascherano opened the scoring in the 12th minute after his off-target shot took a freak deflection off Joseph Yobo's leg, completely wrong-footing the stranded Tim Howard in the Everton goal.
The killing goal came from the boot of Dirk Kuyt with 10 minutes remaining, when the haphazard Yobo made a massive blunder when he sliced a simple clearance, Rieira was quick to capitalise on the lapse and his powerful shot was too hot to handle for Howard, who could only watch helplessly as Kuyt poked home the rebound.
In between, Everton had a couple of chances to peg Liverpool back, but their horrendous finishing let the Reds off the hook time after time.
Despite David Moyes' men dominating the match, they were devoid of a real cutting edge up front. The energetic lone striker Jo, worked hard but hardly had a shot in anger during his 66 minutes on the field.
Everton tried to change things around by bringing on their most effective striker, Louis Saha, but Moyes surprised everyone by taking Jo off, to leave Everton with only one man up front as they chased the game.
That lack of ambition was equally matched by Rafael Benitez, who brought off his only striker, David Ngog, and amazingly replaced him with a midfielder, Yossi Benayoun.
Benitez also decided to keep Alberto Aquilani off the field, despite the player having reached full fitness but needing game time to achieve match fitness.
The strange substitutions can be read as being the type made by managers who are frozen with the fear of losing.
With this victory, Liverpool have now only won three matches from their last 12, while Everton have only won once in their last 11.
The only real moment of excitement in the match came in the 70th minute following Pepe Reina's poor punched clearance. But he made amends by making a phenomenal double save that will go some way to defining Liverpool's season.
For the moment you would have to worry about Everton. They will not challenge for Europe this season and are badly missing their injured first-team players.
Liverpool, for their part are still playing badly, and are only really missing Fernando Torres' penetration up front. Xabi Alonso's absence continues to hamper the Reds attacking ability, so it is with some wonder that Aquilani's omission is questioned.
The win today keeps Liverpool in touch with the chase for fourth place, but it only papers over the cracks of their current dismal run.