Liverpool 0 Birmingham City 0

At Anfield Steve Bruce, for one, will be very disappointed if Liverpool ever do fulfil their soulless threat to pull down Anfield.

The Birmingham City manager had a pretty decent record at the famous footballing shrine in his playing days with Manchester United. He can't be too displeased at the results he has had there as a manager.

It may be best not to mention the FA Cup in any review of Bruce's recent reunions. Long before the record St Andrew's 7-0 embarrassment 18 months ago, there was a 3-0 third-round drubbing in January 2002. But, even that miserable afternoon turned out to have cathartic qualities.

It was the day Bruce realised he had to rip apart the team he had inherited from Trevor Francis. Four months later, he was rewarded with promotion and, in five Premiership trips to Anfield over the last six seasons, Blues have lost just once.

What set this game apart, though, was that this point was fully merited. Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is still to outwit Bruce in a league fixture and he was never going to improve his chances by leaving out his best striker, Fernando Torres.

The #26.5million striker was given just 30 minutes to try to salvage victory from an afternoon that had long since started to slip away from the home side, largely down to the superb efforts by central defenders Liam Ridgewell and Johan Djourou and an iron midfield marshalled by Mehdi Nafti.

Defeat came at a cost, following the sickening sight of Spanish midfielder Oubina's departure on a stretcher less than 15 minutes into his full debut. But, even on an afternoon when he came in for his usual verbal barrage from The Kop, it was a day for the Blues boss to puff his chest out with pride.

From the moment he shocked Liverpool with two unexpected changes to a winning team, bringing in Oubina and Wilson Palacios as part of a midfield shake-up, Bruce won the tactical battle.

Oubina was given his first start, sitting deep in front of the back four. Palacios, who had not even made the bench, was also considered suitably acclimatised to come in as a straight swap for Fabrice Muamba, who did not even make the 16.

It was a plan that had to be rewritten just 13 minutes in when Oubina's studs got caught in the turf in an innocent encounter with Reds striker Dirk Kuyt. But, with Olivier Kapo slotting inside and the dropped Gary McSheffrey coming on to work harder than he might have been expecting for this week's corn, Blues coped.

Liverpool were actually at their best in the early flurries, as all their best work involved Ryan Babel. But, although a lot of potential openings were created and John Arne Riise was only just too high with a stunning 20-yard side-foot effort, it still took until the 40th minute for visiting goalkeeper Maik Taylor to be tested.

From the subdued Steven Gerrard's free kick, Jermaine Pennant's stinging shot had to be touched over by Taylor. And there was time before the break for Blues to manage their one shot at goal when Palacios tried a 40-yarder which needed an alert reaction save from Pepe Reina.

Yet Bruce's men were there for the point and possibly something better, such as they enjoyed three years ago when the ball dropped for them and Darren Anderton won the match 13 minutes from time.

Even on their last visit two seasons ago, another late moment of joy when Xabi Alonso put through his own net two minutes from time, won them a point. But, this time there was very little to suggest that they might threaten, even when Bruce gave Cameron Jerome some support by bringing on Garry O'Connor.

Instead, it turned into a question of whether Liverpool, now increasingly fired by Pennant, could go up enough gears to win the match, especially once Benitez had finally felt the need to turn to record signing Torres.

They certainly had chances. Jamie Carragher's shot on the turn was deflected over off Olivier Kapo, while Nafti also cleared a shot off the line when Pennant's corner picked out Gerrard.

Then, when the otherwise inspirational Djourou made his one error of the afternoon by giving the ball away to Andriy Voronin, Taylor came to the rescue, making his best save, low to his left, to keep out the Russian's powerful left-foot shot.

Ridgewell was next to the rescue when Gerrard and Pennant carved open Blues down the right and when Pennant followed Carragher's surging run forward, by crossing to the edge of the box, Torres fired just over with a stunning overhead scissors kick.

Taylor still had one more save to make, a comfortable block to deny Gerrard's low 25-yarder. Then came another last-gasp tackle by Stephen Kelly, completed by Rafael Schmitz, to deny Peter Crouch just when he seemed set to pull the trigger.

Right at the death, Crouch had his sights adjusted too high with a poorly-executed free header from Gerrard's corner that only he could have reached. But that should not deflected from the fact that this was another blue day in the red corner of Merseyside.

LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise; Pennant (Finnan 87), Mascherano, Gerrard, Babel (Torres 61); Voronin (Crouch 74), Kuyt. Subs: Itandje (gk), Sissoko
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-1-4-1): Taylor; Kelly, Djourou, Ridgewell, Queudrue; Oubina (McSheffrey 13); Larsson, Palacios (O'Connor 67), Nafti, Kapo; Jerome (Schmitz 79); Subs: Kingson (gk), Forssell
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Bookings: Birmingham City - Ridgewell (obstruction), McSheffrey (persistent fouling)
Attendance: 44,215
Blues man of the match: Liam Ridgewell - a real captain's effort