The Reds progressed to the fourth round of the League Cup thanks in the main to a superb hat-trick from Fernando Torres. The Reds deserved the win in what was a very open and enjoyable match. Torres took a battering from the Reading defenders but proved his worth by getting up time and again and rounded it off with three great goals.
A strong Reds side, somewhat changed of course went to Reading and more than held their own. Yossi Benayoun returned to the side after an enforced absence at the weekend and grabbed his first Reds goal.
Liverpool got the game started at the Madejski and inside the first minute of the game there was a scare for Torres. Lucas fed the ball through for Torres who raced on through but Bikey matched his pace and as Bikey cleared the ball Torres fell awkwardly and it took treatment and a bit of time before he really ran the injury off. It was a bit of a worry given that there was no striker on the bench.
The game didn't exactly start very well in truth with Reading the better side. The Reds just didn't seem to settle and the passes were all a bit wayward. Reading got a lot of the ball as a result but just couldn't generate too much in the way of goal scoring options.
Midway through the half and Reading really should have taken the lead when Lita was presented with a free header six yards out but headed straight to Reds keeper Charles Itandje.
It certainly woke the Reds up a little and within two minutes they were in front. Yossi Benayoun picked the ball up on the right side and jinked his way past two men before smashing a superb shot past Federici from just inside the area.
The Reds nearly went 2-0 up a minute later when Torres worked space around Bikey only to see his shot fly just past the near post.
Reading got an equaliser after twenty seven minutes but for me this was offside. A Reading corner fell to Convey on the edge of the box. The Reds had rushed out leaving three Reading players offside but Convey struck straight in to the bottom corner. No flag and the goal stood despite the fact that the ball flew threw between two Reading players. This goal will be explained away but surely just highlights how stupid the rule is. If they weren't offside and interfering with play then shouldn't be on the pitch as they actually jumped clear of the ball.
The two sides knew that the game had to be finished on the night so were both going out for the win in normal time. Crouch had a header taken off his head before half time and then just on half time Itandje was forced in to a save after a scramble in the Reds' box.
Neither side made any changes at half time and Reading got it started again.
The Reds came out fast after the break and looked to restore the lead straight away. Aurelio blazed over two minutes in to the half after a 1-2 with Leto. A minute later and it was Leto who blazed over after Torres played him in.
The goal finally came on forty nine minutes from Torres. Leto won the ball in midfield and instantly played Torres in. He had goal side of his man and held him off before slotting past Federici who had raced from his goal.
As with the first Reds goal this sparked the home side in to action. Lita turned Arbeloa inside out but was grateful for Carragher to cover his back.
The first yellow card of the night came on fifty one minutes when Bikey took Torres out quite cynically. He was just grateful that another defender was behind him otherwise he could have walked.
On fifty six minutes Crouch got on to along ball over the top. He trapped the ball well but his lack of pace saw him caught up and the chance fell away from him.
Two minutes later and the Reds had a good penalty claim in my mind when Bikey pushed Torres down in the box but in keeping with his give Torres no protection policy referee Martin Atkinson gave a goal kick.
Michael Duberry picked up a yellow card a minute later after he had taken Torres out. The game had initially played on as the ball fell to a Red after the tackle. Duberry got his yellow late as the Reds went mad at him. The game at this point threatened to boil over from the Reds' point of view. Both Crouch and especially Torres were getting no protection at all from the ref and the other players were getting very frustrated at it.
The ref did nothing to help the matter a minute later when he refused to book Shorey for a chop from behind on Benayoun. The players and the bench were now going mad at the ref.
Reading got a lifeline to the game again on sixty two minutes after some woeful Reds defending in the box. Itandje tried to meet a corner through a group of players but lost his way and as no-one cleared the ball Halls shot home from six yards out.
John Arne Riise came on for the final twenty minutes in lace of Aurelio who was playing his first game after injury. Lucas then picked up a booking for a tug on Shorey's shirt.
The Reds took the lead again on seventy one minutes through Torres. A long ball down the left for Riise was picked up by the Norwegian. He megged his man before spotting Torres screaming for the ball in the area. His pace was perfect and Torres slotted the ball in to the top corner of the net.
Reading again tried to come back in to it and Itandje had to tip a Lita overhead over the bar on seventy five.
Steven Gerrard arrived for Peter Crouch as the Reds looked to shore up the game for the final quarter of an hour. Shortly after Reading made three changes as they looked to gamble on getting the game to extra time via an equaliser.
As time went on though it was the Reds who kept the game going at the right end of the pitch. Gerrard threaded one round the back for Benayoun but his shot was well saved.
On eighty six minutes Gerrard played Torres in behind a very high line from Reading. Torres raced clear and there was just him and the keeper. Torres jinked his way past the keeper before slotting home. With so much time on his hands this wasn't an easy chance by any means but he slotted it home well.
Jack Hobbs came on for the final minute of the game in place of Lucas to make his Reds debut but as the final whistle blew this was all about Torres and his hat-trick. Torres grabbed the ball from the ref and went off a very happy man.
MotM : Fernando Torres - his first hat-trick for the Reds and hopefully first of many but he took a battering all game but just got back up again and hurt Reading where it matters - in the back of the onion bag.