After struggling to create a chance of note against Wolves in their goalless draw on Tuesday, even on terra firma, Benitez's side needed 23 minutes to lift Anfield from its collective, enduring torpor, albeit briefly, as Kuyt narrowly failed to connect with an Emiliano Insua cross.
Related ArticlesFulham 0 Aston Villa 2Birmingham City 1 Tottenham 1Hull City 2 Wolves 2Wigan Athletic 0 Everton 1West Ham 0 Blackburn Rovers 0Telegraph player raterBy the time, six minutes later, the Dutchman produced the hosts' first shot a rising drive from the edge of the box which belied Liverpool's lack of invention Bolton could consider themselves unfortunate not to lead.
Lee Chung-Yong robbed the dawdling Insua on the halfway line, scampered down field leaving the Argentine trailing in his wake, danced inside a lacklustre challenge from Martin Skrtel, rounded Pepe Reina and only saw his goal bound effort denied by the heroics of Sotirios Kyrgiakos on the line.
It would be stretching a point to claim that Bolton deserved the lead it was their first and only significant chance of the game but that Liverpool, after half an hour's play at Anfield against relegation-threatened opposition, did not either is indictment enough.
Desperate times do not call for aestheticism, though, and it is in such situations that Kuyt comes to the fore. It is not merely his industry which makes him so central to Benitez's plans, but also his habit of scoring at opportune moments.
And so here. Liverpool, devoid of inspiration and finding themselves ground to a standstill by Owen Coyle's industrious side, produced the one glimpse of times past which entitles the club to aim higher than their opponents.
Albert Riera found Insua, the fullback's far post cross was nodded down by Alberto Aquilani and there was Kuyt, bundling the ball home via the unfortunate Jussi Jaaskelainen and through Gary Cahill's legs.
A single goal lead at half-time, though, is not enough for Liverpool supporters to rest easy, especially when it was the visitors who had finished the opening period in the ascendancy. When Steven Gerrard, drawing a fine save from Jaaskelainen with a fierce drive, and then David Ngog drilling the rebound into the ground and onto the bar wasted chances to extend the advantage, the Kop grew tense, restless. They have seen it all before, but they are not yet inured to it.
Even when Insua's wayward shot ricocheted off the outstretched leg of Kevin Davies and past Jaaskelainen, the anxiety refused to ebb. Passes were still misplaced, set pieces cleared more through luck than judgment. Liverpool's descent into mediocrity has been torment for their supporters this season.
The purgatory will continue.