Torres fires Liverpool back into contention

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The Independent Football

Fernando Torres made a piece of Liverpool history last night in the course of sealing a thrilling late 1-0 win at a snowy Villa Park which places Rafael Benitez's side on the edges of the Premier League top four once again.

Liverpool seemed to be sliding to a goalless draw against Aston Villa when Torres guided the ball home in the fourth minute of second-half injury time. Captain Steven Gerrard saluted Torres' record in becoming the fastest Liverpool player to 50 league goals – he has made it in 72 games, eight quicker than Sam Raybould in the 1920s and Albert Stubbins in the 1940s.

"That's what football's about," Gerrard said last night. "We've got to keep going until the end [of games] when we've got lads like this in the team. I thought we could snatch [a win]. Everyone knows when he [Torres] is on form he's the best in the world. We want him to score many more like that and drive us into the top four."

Torres was under no illusions about his achievement. "It was massive game for us and we have to take each one at a time from now," said the striker, who has been plagued by an inguinal hernia most of the season and was carrying an ankle injury last night. "Last season we scored plenty of goals in injury time and we have done that again tonight. It's the confidence boost we needed. We need to win games in a row and we are getting close to the form we had last season."

Benitez put his finger on Torres' reliability. "[The record] means that we signed a very good player,"" he said. "You can see today. He had one chance, and he can score. He had some problems with his ankle. He has been working hard with the physios, and it depends on how he feels, but today he was OK." Liverpool climb to seventh, above Birmingham City, just two points behind Villa and four from fourth-placed Tottenham. But Benitez will await the results of a knee scan on Glen Johnson today.