(photo credit: AP)
All it took for Liverpool to overcome three miserable performances was one really dominating victory.
The Reds' 8-0 victory over Turkey's Besiktas on Tuesday was the most lopsided win in the history of the European Champions League and reinvigorated the English club's chances of advancing to the competition's knockout phase.
The jeers that filled Anfield following last month's 1-0 defeat to Marseille were replaced by roars of approval for an overwhelming performance, including a three-goal game by Israeli international Yossi Benayoun, on a chilly night along the River Mersey.
Having roused Liverpool's European campaign from apparent oblivion, manager Rafa Benitez hopes the rout will worry Porto and Marseille in the final two group games.
"They will be worried by this," Benitez said. "The rest of Europe will also be aware of what we have done, but in the end we still have to win those last two games, regardless of how many goals we scored this time."
Last season's losing finalist climbed to four points and third place in Group A. FC Porto leads the group with eight points after beating second-place Marseille 2-1.
"We have been creating a lot of chances in previous games, but not scoring them," Benitez said. "Today we scored early and the game opened up ... the space was there and our strikers were on very good form."
The 115-year-old Anfield may never witness such a stunning result again after Liverpool was granted planning permission on Tuesday by the City's Council to build a new 400 million pound (US$834.2 million; â‚¬573.2 million) stadium.
Progressing in Europe's elite club competition will provide Liverpool an additional revenue stream to fund the 60,000-seat venue in the adjacent Stanley Park, which could open by 2011.
The goals came early and never seemed to end.
Peter Crouch, handed a rare start by Benitez, scored the opener in the 19th minute after Hakan Arikan parried an initial shot.
Edouard Cisse inadvertently nudged the ball back into the path of Crouch, who eluded Ibrhaim Uzulmez's sliding tackle, but saw his first shot blocked before converting the rebound.
Benayoun capitalized on Liverpool's dominance in the 32nd. John Arne Riise's deep throw-in fell to Andriy Voronin on the left flank and the Ukrainian crossed the ball to the feet of Benayoun, who controlled the ball before calmly finding the target.
Benayoun doubled his tally in the 53rd on a rebound after Hakan blocked Riise's shot.
The fourth goal in the 56th also came courtesy of Besiktas reserve goalkeeper, who spilled Gerrard's low, free kick into the feet of Benayoun.
The Anfield crowd already was celebrating in the 69th when Voronin flicked the ball to Gerrard, who unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Benayoun turned provider in the 78th, sending a low ball from the right side to Ryan Babel, who touched it past Hakan with a heel touch.
Ibrahim Toraman failed clearance in the 81st struck Babel and the ball looped over Hakan.
Crouch completed the annihilation in the final minute, when he rose to meet Benayoun's cross.
The match could had been different had Pepe Reina not denied Bobo when the Istanbul side carved out its most threatening chance in the third.
"It's been a very bad night for the team and for the fans," Besiktas coach Ertugrul Saglam said. "The result is very upsetting for all of us. We would like to say sorry to all our fans.
It's very difficult to accept the result."
After collecting just one point from its opening three matches, Liverpool had to capture three points to avoid a humiliating premature exit.
Benitez shook up the forward line, with Crouch and Voronin forming a partnership for the first time.
The ease of Liverpool's victory spared Benitez from deploying Fernando Torres, who was on the bench despite being expected to be out for at least two weeks after tearing a thigh muscle 10 days ago.
Misfiring Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt, who has failed to score from open play this season, was dropped to the bench - and wasn't missed.