Steven Gerrard hailed the influence of Lucas Leiva after the Brazilian came on to play a key role in Liverpool's exhilarating 2-1 victory over West Ham United at Upton Park on Sunday.

Gerrard fired the Reds ahead from 12 yards moments prior to the interval after James Tomkins handled in the penalty area under pressure from Luis Suarez.

However, West Ham went down the other end of the park to equalise under controversial circumstances through Guy Demel and the scores were level at half-time.

Brendan Rodgers opted for a switch in formation, bringing Lucas in to replace his compatriot, Philippe Coutinho.

The 27-year-old played in a more advanced role as Gerrard continued to anchor - and it was Lucas' clever pass which carved the Hammers open in order for Jon Flanagan to win a second penalty, which Gerrard duly converted.

"Lucas deserves a special mention," the captain told from the tunnel at Upton Park.

"I think there was a lot of pressure on him today - the Brazil coach was here to watch him. He hasn't played much of late, but he's come back and worked his socks off to get fit.

"The ball he played for the second goal - people have been raving about Coutinho all year and the passes he has made - but for me, that was right up there with Brazil's best. I think that helped us go on and get the win.

"So it's great credit to Lucas and I think it shows that in this squad now we have a bit of everything - a bit of class, a bit of skill in Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho. But we've also got some steel. We have lads here who want to roll their sleeves up and dig in. That's what we did today."

Demel's equaliser came moments after Gerrard fired the Reds ahead to break the deadlock - and it took a couple of minutes of discussion between the linesman and referee before West Ham were awarded their goal.

Liverpool's players protested that Simon Mignolet had been impeded as he went to gather the ball; however, they were overruled and the Hammers went into the interval level at 1-1.

Gerrard insists his teammates were undeterred by the disappointing decision - and the fact that they came out after the restart full of purpose is yet another indication of the progress made this season.

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"I think if you go back a couple of years, you would have found a side that would have felt sorry for themselves and sulked and that would have affected them in the second half," he explained.

"But the manager was fantastic - he told us to forget about it and that there was nothing we could change. He asked us all for 10 per cent more."

In stepping up to sweep the decisive penalty beyond Adrian to clinch three points, the skipper surpassed the goalscoring achievements of Kenny Dalglish, who cheered from the stands at Upton Park.

Gerrard now has 173 career goals for the club - and a staggering 13 for the season, most of which have come from the defensive-midfield position.

"Obviously the goal tally has been helped a lot by penalties, but you've still got to have the nerve to step up and take it," said the skipper.

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"The second one was a very nerve-wracking penalty. It was similar to the one against Fulham. I'm just grateful that I could hit the back of the net, but I think it was all about the three points today and what the lads went through to get it.

"It's hugely satisfying looking back on the game, especially with the equaliser going against us. It was a very tricky game today coming up against a Sam Allardyce team, we knew what to expect and I think we got a bit more than we expected.

"It was a good test of our character. We needed to prove today that we're capable of fighting for this title and I thought we did it terrifically well."