Birmingham City expressed their gratitude to Rafael Benitez for leaving out Liverpool's star striker Fernando Torres.

But the Blues dressing room also had cause to point out that the taming of a frontline which had scored six goals in their previous home game was also down to the quality of the defending.

"I was a bit surprised when they didn't start with him," said goalkeeper Maik Taylor. "We were certainly pleased he wasn't playing. He's their main man and when he came on as a substitute, followed by Peter Crouch, you're thinking 'Here we go'.

"But they've got four great strikers and Steven Gerrard makes his runs and you have to be aware of that and work hard to stop him. We knew they'd be a threat and we knew we needed to restrict them to efforts outside the box but we came here, set our stall out, worked hard and this was a fantastic result. It's like a win for us and I was a bit surprised by how little I had to do."

Manager Steve Bruce took the same stance. "We're all paid to make big decisions and who am I to argue against Rafa Benitez after what he's achieved?" he said. "I'm sitting on the fence but the one thing you can't plan against Liverpool is who's going to start and that's the manager's right here. He's been very successful and assembled a squad that's excellent.

"Whoever you play against in the Liverpool team, you know it's going to be a difficult game. The one thing you have to do is play well yourselves and when they go home tonight, they'll think 'Birmingham have deserved something out of it'.

"It wasn't a fluke. It wasn't one of them where we've been absolutely battered and they've missed six or seven chances.

"We stuck to a game plan, frustrated them and played three in midfield and, at the death, we just might have nicked it with a bit more cutting edge.

"But, overall, my goalkeeper has produced one really good save, from Voronin. Other than that, it was a pretty comfortable afternoon for him in terms of actual chances.

"Our lads, especially my defenders, were absolutely excellent. They didn't give them a look in, whatever strikers they were up against."

Johan Djourou had been successful here before, having been in the Arsenal team which won 6-3 at Anfield in the Carling Cup last season, sentencing Liverpool to their heaviest defeat in almost 50 years. But his centre-half partner, Liam Ridgewell, also made his only appearance at Anfield last season, when he was on the wrong end of Asdton Villa's 3-1 battering almost a year ago. And Ridgewell was proud of their efforts this time.

"Myself and Johan know we've done a good job today, he said. "We've kept some world-class strikers at bay and we've got to be pleased with that but it wasn't just us. Everyone in the back four kept throwing their bodies at the ball, the midfield have kept closing them down and not giving them space and the whole team have defended very well."