Tony Adams dropped Defoe in favour of a 4-5-1 system with Crouch playing the line striker role and although Liverpool went close early on when Dirk Kuyt hit the post, the system began to work and the hosts were getting frustrated as time passed.
Unfortunately Papa Bouba Diop had to ruin it by losing Kuyt in the box and deliberately punching the ball away from his head. It was a clear-cut penalty as you'll ever see although David James almost saved Gerrard's spot kick.
It wasn't a good moment for Papa who had earlier missed the best chance of the game after heading straight at Reina at close range when he was unmarked in the box.
The only other good chance came at the end of the game when none of the Pompey players could get on the end of Nadir Belhadj's excellent cross from the left.
Overall I can't fault the effort and commitment shown by the players yesterday and even John Utaka looked interested! There were plenty of positives to take from the game as both Distin and Kaboul were rock solid again whilst Lassana Diarra was the best player on the pitch.
My only real gripe is that Adams should have brought on Defoe as soon as we conceded rather than five minutes from the end. No doubt the media will try and stir things up since he was dropped but Tony Adams insists it was purely tactical.
The lads could leave Liverpool with their heads held high, but a win at home to Wigan on Saturday is now imperative.
Pompey Player Ratings
David James: 7 - A couple of very good saves.
Noe Pamarot: 6 - Solid enough but caught out occasionally.
Younes Kaboul: 8 - Towered above the Liverpool attack.
Sylvain Distin: 8 - Great last ditch challenge on Benayoun to stop a certain goal.
Nadir Belhadj: 6 - Couldn't get forward often.
John Utaka: 6 - Looked a bit better than usual.
Papa Bouba Diop: 5 - Played well but was guilty of two costly errors.
Sean Davis: 7 - Battled hard.
Lassana Diarra: 8 - Kept Gerrard quiet and calmed things down in midfield.
Armand Traore: 5 - Not his sort of game.
Peter Crouch: 6 - Worked hard up front on his own.
Niko Kranjcar (A. Traore 65): 6 - Continued the comeback trail.
Richard Hughes (Diarra 80): N/A - Replaced Diarra who limped off.
Jermain Defoe (Utaka 85): N/A - Arguably should have come on earlier.