Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard paid tribute to his side’s commitment after they beat Everton 1-0 in the Merseyside derby at Anfield, despite playing for 56 minutes with 10 men.
The Reds had Greece defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos sent off for a badly-timed challenge on Marouane Fellaini, with the Belgium international being fortunate not to see red himself for his role in the challenge.
Dirk Kuyt headed the winner from Gerrard’s 55th-minute corner to move Rafael Benitez’s side up to fourth in the Barclays Premier League, with Everton’s Steven Pienaar seeing red in injury time.
Gerrard told Sky Sports 1: “That is what derbies are all about. There was passion, commitment and fight. We beat a very good Everton side today with 10-men and we should enjoy this result.
“We played some good football and had a great attitude, sticking together. We knew we would be up against it at times and if we had the chance at a set-piece we could grab a goal.”
Gerrard also praised the performance of referee Martin Atkinson during a typically feisty clash between the local rivals
“The ref was superb,” said Gerrard.
“He let tackles go and that’s what fans pay their money for. There were some mis-timed tackles but we can’t complain and I don’t think Everton will either.”
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said he hoped his side's confidence will be boosted by the victory.
“Hopefully we’ll have more confidence for the next game against Arsenal, we are doing much better and we won today with 10 players so we cannot ask for more,” he said.
“It was an amazing performance from the team.
“It’s a massive result for us. I felt the fans were behind the team working so hard and we were defending well and dangerous on the counter-attack.
“The commitment of our players was fantastic so everything was positive.”
But the Spaniard refused to join Gerrard in applauding the performance of referee Atkinson, saying, “I will not talk about the referee.”
However Benitez did praise Holland striker Kuyt, whose winner was his 50th goal for the Anfield club.
“He is an amazing player who works hard, scores goal, especially against Everton.”