Fernando Torres put in another magical display at Anfield last night to see off West Ham. His second consecutive home league hat-trick started in the seventh minute and from then on there was no doubting the final result. Steven Gerrard wrapped up the four nil win with the goal of the night late on as the Reds went fourth in the league.
The Reds got the game started attacking the Anny Road end in the first half and were on the ball straight away.
Shortly before the Reds opened the scoring they had a glorious chance. Riise put in a great cross which Kuyt nodded to Torres and the Spaniard headed just wide.
The lead came on eight minutes when Dirk Kuyt picked the ball up on the right and put in a cross. The defender looked favourite for the ball before Torres nipped in and fired the ball past a static Green in the West Ham goal. A superb strike to really open the game right up.
West Ham were rarely at the races on the night although did go close on thirteen minutes when the broke down their left. Reina raced from his goal but was beaten to it by Boa Morte. The striker looked to score only for Arbeloa to clear just a yard from the goal. It was a wake up call for the Reds.
As the half wore on though the Reds looked more and more comfortable in the game. Their attacking play was good and pushing West ham backwards. Ryan Babel again looked up for the game - although I do wish he'd attack on the outside at times because he has the quality to beat people.
The Reds were awarded a free kick on twenty six minutes after Solano deliberately took Arbeloa out. The free kick was awarded yet Steve Bennett let Solano walk away. Personally I thought Bennett had a very poor game and missed an awful lot of stuff on the pitch. At one point I thought that a new law allowing hand ball had come in for the game he missed that many.
Gerrard whipped the free kick in and Carragher somehow missed at the back post. It seemed to be one of those nights for Carragher when the ball fell to him but he just couldn't do anything with it.
Minutes later and Skrtel headed on to the roof of the net. Steven Gerrard later forced a save out of Robert Green. The Reds had West Ham on the back foot certainly but only had one goal to show for it which as ever was the worry.
Carlton Cole picked up the first booking of the night when he was shown yellow for leading with his elbow on Alonso.
The second half saw West Ham come out and show a bit more fight about them. They got stuck in to tackles far more and put pressure on the Reds.
The Reds at this point became a little lax in their play and allowed West Ham back in to the game more.
That was until the hour mark though when Torres scored again. Dirk Kuyt collected the ball on the far edge of the box before teasing Neill with the ball. Kuyt then crossed to Torres who completely unmarked just placed his header in to the top corner for an absolute class finish.
The Reds made their first change in the sixty second minute as Benayoun replaced the hard working Kuyt. West Ham also changed Upson for Spector at the same time.
A minute later and the Reds were treated to a storming run by Skrtel. With no obvious pass out of defence on he simply raced forward and danced through midfield. As the whole West Ham defence looked like it was about to part he passed the ball wide but the ball was poor and the move broke down. It was hopefully a glimpse of something extra again from Skrtel though which will add to his game. He's already showing that his defending is class.
The Reds should have been three up on sixty seven minutes and only the woodwork stopped it. A diving header from Torres hit the post and flew across the goal line before Green picked it up.
West Ham looked to change things with twenty minutes to go as Zamora came on and someone who they said was Dean Ashton. I know the lad has been injured but he sure has put the pounds on whilst he's been out.
With the game seemingly won the Reds made a change with Pennant replacing Babel. Pennant went down the right with Benayoun moving across as a result.
On seventy eight minutes there was an injury scare for the Reds as Zamora looked to get in behind the Reds. Skrtel moved across to defend but Reina decided that the ball was going to be his and took Skrtel out in punching the ball clear. Both Reds ended up down although thankfully both got up. I was more nervy about Reina knowing that Itandje was on the bench.
Torres wrapped up his hat-trick just as Peter Crouch was getting ready to come on the pitch. Riise had a shot blocked. The ball flew up and Riise nodded it down to Torres who escaped his marker and then calmly opened up his body and stroked it past Green.
It proved his last kick as the sub was made before the play got started again. Torres went off to a standing ovation from all four sides of the ground and that included the West Ham fans.
One thing I did notice with the West Ham fans is that there seemed to be some good old banter going on with them. A bit like the old days where two lots of fans taunt one another.
The Reds made it four nil on eighty three minutes when Steven Gerrard scored the goal of the night. He picked the ball up in midfield, gave himself some space and then arrowed a ball in to the top corner just like Gerrard does.
The only concern for the Reds as the game ticked down to an end was when Mascherano went down injured. Noble caught him in midfield and after play finally stopped Masch was given treatment. He somehow managed to come back on although never quite lasted the ninety minutes as he limped off down the tunnel just before the final whistle blew.
Overall I enjoyed the game. Class goals set the Reds well apart from West Ham who were poor. We have played better perhaps at times this season but I thought the play was a lot more up tempo and pressing.