Birmingham City 1 Liverpool 1

The prospects of Rafa Benitez leading Liverpool in the Champions League next season suffered another setback as the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City.

The result was hardly a surprise as Liverpool have now failed to beat Birmingham in any of their eight Premier League encounters.

It was clearly evident why Liverpool were without a win in their previous six away games. They were unable to produce any startling play to overcome the tenacious Birmingham side.

In a very ordinary opening period neither side really got on top. Steven Gerrard operated in more of a holding role and there were few telling passes from the Liverpool skipper, although he came up trumps with a 47th minute goal.

The home side deservedly shared the spoils as a result of a 56th minute equalise from their ever improving defender Liam Ridgewell.

The Merseyside club, beaten in three of their previous seven league games, certainly lacked fire and passion to dominate the home side.

Birmingham often took the game to Liverpool but the strength of Jamie Carragher and Sotiros Kyrgiakos gave the home side no goalscoring opportunities in the first half.

City have not been noted for keeping clean sheets but their defence had a relatively quiet game against the subdued threat of Fernando Torres.

The only real danger occurred late in the first half following a long throw-out by goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

A five-man move ended with a rising shot from Maxi Rodriguez which clattered the crossbar and finally brought the game to life.

This effort was followed by Birmingham's first shot on target by Cameron Jerome, which Reina hastily pushed out for a corner.

But two minutes into the second half Liverpool finally found their goalscoring form when Gerrard produced a vintage finish.

There was some measure of luck about the goal in as much that Gerrard gained possession from a mis-hit shot by Glen Johnson.

Gerrard cut back inside Lee Bowyer and fired home a low cross shot past the despairing hand of Joe Hart.

Liverpool of old would have built upon this lead but instead they allowed Birmingham back into the game with a comparatively simple equaliser in the 56th minute.

A long ball from the right by Craig Gardner found the unmarked Ridgewell rushing in from the left for the defender to nudge the ball home from close range.

Liverpool's frustration was emphasised when Benitez took off his leading scorer Torres and sent on David Ngog, who was involved in a controversial penalty equaliser against Birmingham at Anfield earlier in the season.

Ngog, booed every time he was in possession, very nearly had the last laugh when his header from Johnson's cross went just wide, while another effort hit the side-netting.

But the miss of the match fell to the unmarked Bowyer, who made a complete hash of Ridgewell's cross only yards away from the visitors' goal.