Torres 8, 61, 81, Gerrard 83.
West Ham 0
An easy win suggesting that although talks with DIC have, if reports are to be believed, reached deadlock, we finally seem to be moving forward on the pitch. Fourth place regained, a boost to the goal difference and Torres once more proving to be an unstoppable class act.
Rafa made two changes recalling Arbeloa and Riise to replace Sami and Aurelio. Carragher moved to centre back. It certainly seems that the side is benefiting from only the odd tweak here and there rather than wholesale change. Those who played against Bolton must have felt confident after that win so why not use that tonight?
We began quietly the only chance of note being Torres’ fluffed header from Riise’s cross and Kuyt’s knock back. However, the game wasn’t even ten minutes old before he made amends. Kuyts weak cross should have been tidied up by West Ham however, it some how found its way to Torres who slipped Ferdinand’s attention and fired past a static Green from around the penalty spot.
The perfect start. West Ham, would now be forced to be more adventurous which would open things up at the back for us. Boa Morte had some success rounding Reina only to see the angle and Arbeloa’s interception deny him. However, this was short lived and we never really looked in an trouble although we didn’t really play well enough make our advantage count. Carragher and Mascherano had chances but their efforts showed why they don’t score many for us ! The best chance of the half was Gerrard’s toe poke after good work by Babel.
In the second half we slowly began to turn up the heat. Gerrard shaped to shoot but laid off a cleverly disguised pass to Babel who ghosted past two West Ham defenders only to see Green save his shot. The second goal showed why Torres is difficult to contain. His first effort was a long range shot but the second proved to be a simple header. Kuyt was again the provider as four West Ham defenders simply stood around Torres and watched him help himself. The hat trick was nearly secured when he headed against the post from Gerrard’s excellent cross. However, the inevitable followed. Torres slipped past Lucas Neill and stroked the ball home past a static defence. Easy easy stuff to the point where Torres looked embarrassed before exiting to a deserved standing ovation.
Gerrard put the icing on the cake with a typical run and blast from the edge of the area. All that remained was for the captain to keep the ball away from the referee and present it to Torres.
At half time there was another protest against the Americans however, tonight was about Torres. Rafa said
“Torres is on fire and that is good for him and fantastic for the team.”
On fire he maybe but it is unlikely that he will rip through so much deadwood as he did last night, West Ham were woeful. Nevertheless 24 goals against a back drop or turmoil, and comparative importance in front of goal from elsewhere in the team, makes his achievement all the more remarkable.
More importantly, and I use these words with caution, our return to form is timely. Said Rafa.
“At this crucial period of the season we are playing with confidence”
Let’s hope it continues, on Saturday, Tuesday and beyond.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Mascherano, Alonso, Babel (Pennant 76), Kuyt (Benayoun 63), Torres (Crouch 82).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Hyypia.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Upson (Spector 63), McCartney, Solano (Ashton 69), Noble, Mullins, Ljungberg, Boa Morte, Cole (Zamora 69).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Pantsil.