Torres gets hat-trick as Liverpool demolish Hull

Liverpool 6 Hull 1

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres scored a brilliant hat-trick to blow away struggling Hull at Anfield.

The Spain striker scored twice in the first half either side of Geovanni's equaliser and added a third soon after the interval.

Captain Steven Gerrard scored a fourth just before the hour and substitute Ryan Babel added two late goals as Liverpool made it four league wins - including 16 goals - in succession.

But the day belonged to Torres, who took his tally for the season to eight in seven matches and an incredible 33 in 34 matches at Anfield.

This was also his fourth Liverpool hat-trick and the third he has scored in the Premier League.

The writing was on the wall for Hull, who have not won in their last nine away matches, from the 11th minute when Liverpool took the lead with a neat passing move and a clinical finish from Torres.

Dirk Kuyt and left-back Emiliano Insua combined to allow Albert Riera to cross to the near post where Torres shimmied past Ibrahima Sonko to coolly fire past Boaz Myhill.

This season Liverpool have leaked goals through defensive mistakes and another one cost them just four minutes later when Martin Skrtel's weak header dropped to Geovanni eight yards out and he volleyed home the equaliser.

The goal unsettled home side but Lucas should have done better in the 23rd minute when he tamely side-footed Insua's cross straight at Myhill from 15 yards.

But if there is one Liverpool player you can rely on to hit the target it is Torres and his individual brilliance put his side ahead again in the 28th minute.

Yossi Benayoun's incisive through-ball picked out the Spaniard's run into the penalty area but there was still plenty of work to do.

Torres cut back inside, beating Sonko, Myhill and then 18-year-old debutant Liam Cooper to poke home from close range.

Frailties were still apparent at the back, however, and twice Riera gave the ball away 10 yards outside his own penalty area only to be saved by Jamie Carragher and poor shooting from Kamil Ghilas.

Two minutes into the second half Torres scored his third, again with an assist from Benayoun.

He raced into the inside-right channel and, with everyone in the ground expecting him to shoot right-footed, he turned inside Sonko and fired through Paul McShane's legs and into the far corner.

Torres continued to terrorise the Hull defence and was only inches over the crossbar with a looping 58th-minute header from Skrtel's cross

On the hour Gerrard, who had been quiet by his standards, added a fourth when he curled a shot into the far corner from wide on the left wing after his original corner had only been half-cleared to Insua.

Hull then seemed to self-destruct with McShane, who had been having a running disagreement with Riera all afternoon, lucky not to be sent off after being booked for a clash with Carragher and then appearing to show dissent to referee Peter Walton.

With a Champions League clash away to Fiorentina on Tuesday, Torres departed to a standing ovation in the 68th minute as he was replaced by Babel with Gerrard following soon after.

By then the hard work had been done, although Babel had a point to prove and added a fifth by turning in Kuyt's right-wing cross late on.

The Dutchman scored a fortunate second in injury time when he deflected Riera's shot over Myhill.

But even the former Ajax forward would admit he is not in the class of Torres, who once again showed how intrinsically linked he is to Liverpool's ambitions.

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