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Liverpool Echo report

IT was only right that with royalty in town Fernando Torres put on a show fit for a king.

This was the greatest striker on the planet at the peak of his powers.

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett insisted the presence of Saudi Crown Prince Faisal alongside him in the directors box was to celebrate a partnership that will see Liverpool Academies set up in the Middle East.

However, if Gillett is hoping to convince the prince to buy a stake in the club he couldn't have asked for a better sales pitch.

Torres terrorised Hull into submission with a hat-trick of breathtaking quality.

The way the prince and his entourage flocked around the Spaniard after taking a stroll on the hallowed turf with Gillett an hour after Saturday's game, certainly suggested the guest was suitably impressed.

Torres was on his way home with the matchball in tow but stopped to sign autographs and relive his striking masterclass. Of course Rafa Benitez doesn't do gushing tributes and the manager insisted: "I still think he can do better."

But it's difficult to see how Torres could improve on this display.

After a testing opening month of the campaign when he was battered by defenders and warned by his boss to stop taking out his frustration on officials, he has clicked into top gear.

His stunning double at West Ham banished any fears about fatigue and Saturday's glorious treble will give defenders across Europe sleepless nights.

Torres is leading the chase for the Golden Boot with eight goals in seven league appearances and is currently in a class of his own.

The striker is undoubtedly benefiting from the Reds' greater attacking mentality this season.

Seven home draws wrecked last season's title challenge but this time Liverpool are a very different proposition.

Gone is the cagey approach to home games with two holding midfielders.

Now caution is thrown to the wind and if that occasionally means they are exposed at the back then so be it.

The stats make remarkable reading.

Liverpool have scored three or more in 13 of their last 17 league games and have netted 34 times in their last nine league games at Anfield.

Their haul of 22 goals in their opening seven league games this season has only been bettered once in the club's history - in 1895.

Back then Queen Victoria was on the throne and the Reds were setting the foundations for clinching the Second Division crown with emphatic wins over the likes of Loughborough Town and Burton Wanderers.

The current crop will be hoping their autumn goal rush will also lead to a glorious finale.

Hitting hapless Hull for six was the perfect boost ahead of this Sunday's crunch clash with Chelsea.

With Carlo Ancelotti's side beaten by Wigan, the Reds now find themselves just three points off the summit. Those early defeats to Spurs and Aston Villa are already starting to look less costly.

The Stamford Bridge showdown will provide a clearer indication of this side's title credentials.

Liverpool have developed a useful habit of battering vastly inferior sides, now they must show they haven't lost the knack of chiselling out wins against the big boys.

The Reds were excellent on Saturday but they will have few easier tests than taming the Tigers.

In the second half the visitors threw in the towel and were lucky that Benitez's decision to take off Torres and Steven Gerrard saved them from even greater punishment.

With the Reds dominant the only surprise was that they had to wait until the 12th minute to take the lead as Torres controlled Albert Riera's cross and burst past Ibrahima Sonko before finishing with aplomb.

Inside three minutes those cheers turned to groans as the Reds failed to deal with a punt into the box and Martin Skrtel's poor header presented Geovanni with the chance to equalise.

Just before the half hour mark Torres restored the Reds' advantage as he latched on to Yossi Benayoun's clever pass and showed great composure to beat Sonko and keeper Boaz Myhill before flicking the ball home.

Emiliano Insua celebrated his first call-up to the Argentina squad with another accomplished display.

The left-back is growing in stature with every game and linked up well with Riera to terrorise full-back Paul McShane.

The fact that Lucas was handed his 50th league appearance at the expense of Javier Mascherano highlighted the great progress he has made this season.

The second half was a procession and Torres completed his treble two minutes after the break. Benayoun again turned provider and Torres coolly turned inside Sonko and fired into the bottom corner.

When Gerrard's curling cross from the left flew over Myhill and crashed in off the underside of the bar Benitez allowed his thoughts to turn to bigger tests ahead.

Torres' departure triggered a standing ovation with even the Hull fans rising to their feet to acknowledge a very special talent.

Gerrard and Benayoun were also withdrawn with tomorrow night's Champions League clash with Fiorentina in mind.

Andriy Voronin, Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Riera all went close before the fifth arrived in the 88th minute.

Ryan Babel clearly relished the chance to play in a central role and he continued his recent revival with another couple of steps on the road to redemption.

The Dutchman turned home Kuyt's cross and then in stoppage time grabbed a second as Riera's shot struck him on the heel and looped over Myhill.

Liverpool 6 – 1
(HT 2 – 1)
Hull City
Torres 12
Torres 28
Torres 47
Gerrard 61
Babel 88
Babel 90
Geovanni 15

Bookings Skrtel 53
Kilbane 45
Hunt 50
McShane 63
Marney 83

Liverpool's Percentage Hull City's Percentage
Corners 13 86% 2 14%
Goal attempts 22 75% 7 25%
On target 14 82% 3 18%
Fouls 11 78% 3 22%
Offside 3 60% 2 40%

Liverpool Jose Manuel Reina, Emiliano Insua, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Jamie Carragher, Albert Riera, Steven Gerrard (Javier Mascherano, 74), Lucas Leiva, Yossi Benayoun (Andriy Voronin, 77), Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres (Ryan Babel, 67)

Hull City Boaz Myhill, Andy Dawson, Liam Cooper, Paul McShane, Ibrahima Sonko, Kevin Kilbane (Dean Marney, 64), Deiberson Geovanni (Jozy Altidore, 83), Stephen Hunt, George Boateng, Kamel Ghilas, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Daniel Cousin, 63)

Referee Walton, P
Venue Anfield
Attendance 44,392

Copyright - Liverpool Echo


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