Dirk Kuyt hit the late winner as Liverpool gained revenge for their FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United a year ago.
Off-field matters had dominated pre-match proceedings as both sides tried to ease tensions ahead of the first meeting of the two sides since Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
But while there was plenty of animosity in the ground between rival fans, the match itself, somewhat unusually, contained very few flashpoints.
With Suarez still banned, Evra became the focal point, and it was his failure to get to Andy Carroll's flick-on first that put Kuyt through to fire the clincher in the 88th minute.
Prior to that it appeared the tie was heading towards a replay neither manager really wanted, after Park Ji-sung had canceled out Daniel Agger's header in the first half.
Evra's every touch was roundly booed, with the left-back also subjected to chants claiming his evidence to the Football Association's disciplinary commission had no...