IN a week when Luis Suarez scored another fantastic hat-trick, five years ago today Liverpool FC moved up to fourth spot, above Everton, with a 4-0 thumping of West Ham at Anfield, inspired by a former goalscoring superstar.
Fernando Torres was the star of the show with a superb hat-trick to taking his tally to 24 goals for that season, while Steven Gerrard grabbed the other goal with a stunning strike from the edge of the box.
Torres broke the deadlock after just eight minutes when he swept home Dirk Kuyt’s cross with a brilliant finish. The Spaniard doubled the lead just past the hour mark when he headed home Kuyt’s cross and he completed his hat-trick with a cool finish nine minutes from time.
Gerrard put the seal on a fine night for Rafa Benitez’s men with a trademark shot into the top corner from the edge of the box on 83 minutes.
The win lifted Liverpool above Everton on goal difference in the race to finish fourth, while the defeat was West Ham’s second 4-0 loss in four days. But despite moving above city rivals Everton, the dark cloud of the war for control of the club was never far away at Anfield.
Before and at half-time, fans all around the ground sung and chanted their anger at the then American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Fortunately Rafael Benitez’s players – and Torres in particular – gave the supporters something to take their minds off the behind-the-scenes turmoil.
The Reds took the lead when Kuyt’s low cross from the right was volleyed fiercely past Green by Torres from 12 yards. West Ham should have equalised after 13 minutes when Luis Boa Morte was played in on the left, but from a tight angle his shot was hooked over his own bar by Arbeloa.
The same applied to corners and after 29 minutes Steven Gerrard fired one in from the left which Martin Skrtel, arriving fast at the near post, headed onto the roof of the net.
Seven minutes later Ryan Babel fashioned a cross from the left and Gerrard’s close-range effort was superbly turned round a post by Green at full-stretch.
The Hammers continued to live dangerously after the break and only a fine save from Green stopped Babel after Gerrard had cleverly played the Dutchman into the box.
The hosts got their second goal on the hour – with Kuyt again the provider. The Dutchman’s chipped cross from the left enabled Torres to neatly lift a header into the top corner from six yards.
Torres saw a diving header hit a post, with Green scrambling to pick up the ball as it rolled across the six-yard box.
Torres completed his hat-trick after 80 minutes when he took a knockdown from Riise to sidestep his way into the six-yard box before rolling the ball past Green.
At the time, Spaniard’s goal tally read 24 in 33 matches – 12 of them coming from his previous 11 games. It is that kind of form that earned Torres the tag of most feared striker in Europe – a far cry from today’s forlorn figure.
Gerrard capped the win by blasting home the fourth goal with a blistering drive from outside the box.
So, fast-forward five years, and we’ve swapped goalscoring heroes, managers, and American owners; but are we better off?
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