Torres double inspires Reds


Fernando Torres turned on the style to inspire Liverpool to a 4-1 victory over struggling Portsmouth at Anfield on Monday, which keeps alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

The Spanish international scored two and was involved in the other two as Rafael Benitez's side scored three times in six first-half minutes to end a two-match losing run.

"We were expecting a good game, to play well and score goals," said Benitez, whose side have to overcome a 1-0 deficit to French side Lille later in the week in the Europa League.

"The most important thing was to play with an offensive mentality and a lot of quality. This allowed players like (Alberto) Aquilani to shine."

His Portsmouth counterpart Avram Grant was downcast, especially about the first-half goal rush by Liverpool.

"Like against Arsenal and Manchester United we lost our shape," said the Israeli.

"It was not a good seven minutes and we lost the game."

A shocking error by keeper Jamie Ashdown, standing in for injured England international David James, allowed Torres to open the floodgates in the 26th minute.

Liverpool supporters were still celebrating Torres's 14th goal of the campaign when Ryan Babel pounced after clever work by the Spaniard two minutes later.

Aquilani made sure of the points in the 32nd minute, the Italian's first goal for the club in his fifth Premier League start since joining from Roma for £17 million (Dh94m) last August.

Although Liverpool's problems have been well documented, they are insignificant compared to Portsmouth's. Crisis club off the pitch, a team playing with admirable spirit, freedom and no little belief on it – and one win away from a second FA Cup final in three years no less.

They arrived at Anfield on a run of just one win in 10 Premier League matches and had lost 14 of their 15 matches against teams in the top half of the Premier League.

If that was not bad enough, James was forced to miss the game with a calf injury. That paved the way for Ashdown to make only his second Premier League start of the season.


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