A well deserved victory for the Reds tonight now sees them top their group in the Europa League.
Brendan Rodgers opted to go with a relatively strong line-up against the Russian visitors which divided fans opinion. Personally I was a little disappointed not to see the likes of Samed Yesil get a start but it looks like the result now has justified the means.
The first half was a pretty limp affair with a disinterested looking Anzhi outfit never threatening Brad Jones' goal. The Reds on the other hand had their usual selection of half-chances which could have amounted to more had the decision making been better. On the one occasion Luis Suarez did find the correct pass Jonjo Shelvey skied his effort over the bar on 24 minutes.
The combination of Glen Johnson and Ousamma Assaidi down the left was by some distance our greatest attacking threat with both having shots on goal at various points. The best of these chances was when Johnson found himself in on goal only to completely miss his kick in the 35th minute. Quite what he was appealing for I don't know as there was no obvious contact with the opposing defender.
One thing that struck me as I watched the first half was just how out of sync Gerrard and Suarez are with the Rodgers philosophy. The manager's idea of keeping the ball deep in the opponent's half is simply not possible with these two on the pitch due to the insane amount of times they lose possession. The fact that they're his two best players must make it an incredibly difficult situation for him to handle.
With a drab first half over with, things could only improve after the break and thankfully they did. Glen Johnson was replaced by Raheem Sterling as the typically anonymous Downing was switched to left-back. p>
Just a few minutes into the half my good friend Martin Skrtel managed to get an all-too-quiet Anfield crowd on their feet by winning the ball high up the pitch and launching a stinging effort at goal, with their keeper being very lucky that it was straight at him. Gerrard then followed up moments later by getting his head on the end of a Shelvey cross but failed to hit the target.
Then in the 53rd minute up stepped Mr. Anonymous to break the deadlock. Whatshisface cut in from the left and, from just outside the box, pinged one into the far corner with his right foot. Gabulov in goal looked like he went down at a funny angle and perhaps could've done better but let's not take this one away from Stewart. It may have been the sheer shock of witnessing a Downing shot that wrong-footed him.
Rather than build on the goal the Reds went a little bit sloppy and began to make things harder than they needed to be. Luckily for us Samuel Eto'o phoned in his performance and with him as captain it set the tone for a very disappointing show from the away side.
That said, they did have one or two chances in the last 20 mintues, the best of these falling to sub Traore who side-footed wide from six yards out in the 83rd minute. There was just never any sustained pressure on Brad Jones' goal and he ended up having a surprisingly easy night.
Daniel Agger had himself a moment of cheekiness in the 80th minute when he headed the ball out of Gabulov's hands and prodded into an empty net, but was booked for his actions. I suppose there's no room for any sort of spontaneity or harmless mischief in the game anymore.
Nuri Sahin had a good game in the middle tonight but I'd go with Ousamma Assaidi for my man of the match. His final ball was much improved on previous displays and I'd love to see him and Sterling occupying the wing positions for a couple of games. He's no world beater but when you consider how much we paid for him he is looking to be a great bit of business.
Onward to the Derby now on Sunday and with the bluenoses having their own injury worries as well as being without Stephen Pienaar, this might be a good time to catch them off guard. Our team pretty much picks itself these days so let's hope we can start building some momentum off the back of the last two results.
Subs: Sterling for Johnson (46), Allen for Shelvey (80)
Unused Subs: Gulacsi, Carragher, Henderson, Suso, Yesil.