Rampant Liverpool rout Aston Villa to close gap at top

March 23rd, 2009 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Fernando Torres London, March 23 (DPA) Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick as Liverpool routed Aston Villa 5-0 to close within one point of Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League table.
Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera scored the other goals as Liverpool Sunday boosted their hopes of a first league title since 1990, though United still have a game in hand.

“It’s important not to get carried away,” Gerrard said. “Manchester United are still capable of winning all of their remaining games and so it’s important we focus on ourselves, keep winning, stay on their shoulders and keep piling that pressure on them.

“If they go into games knowing we are ready to pounce if they make mistakes, then it will be more difficult for them.

Gerrard said he had not anticipated such a margin of victory.

“That result was more than we expected today,” he said. “We’d have settled for 1-0 before the game. Villa are a fantastic side although they’ve had a dip in form of late. We got an early goal and were then able to build on it.

“It was nice for me to get a hat-trick, but the important thing today was winning the game and taking the three points.

“Everyone knows we’re in a rich vein of form at the moment. We’re winning games convincingly, but we have to continue to take one game at a time.”

With United having lost 2-0 against Fulham on Saturday, Liverpool knew they could not afford to miss the chance to put pressure on United and they made the perfect start with a goal inside seven minutes.

Gerrard’s free-kick was headed onto the crossbar by Xabi Alonso, and Kuyt volleyed in the rebound.

Villa had a couple of chances to equalise but Liverpool made them pay when Jose Reina’s long clearance was allowed to bounce and Riera volleyed in a spectacular second.

Riera then won a penalty under a challenge from Nigel Reo-Coker and Gerrard converted from the spot to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Gerrard fired in a superb free-kick to extend the lead early in the second half and then completed his hat-trick with a second penalty after Brad Friedel was sent off for fouling Fernando Torres.

In the day’s other matches, Wigan moved up to seventh with a 1-0 win over Hull City and Manchester City edged out Sunderland 1-0.

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