Hat-trick star Benayoun inspires Liverpool romp
Yossi Benayoun hit a hat-trick as Liverpool warmed up for the start of their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 rout of Burnley at Anfield on Saturday. Benayoun broke the deadlock with a classy finish before adding his side's third goal after Dirk Kuyt had made it 2-0 shortly before half time.sports Updated: Sep 12, 2009 22:20 IST
Yossi Benayoun hit a hat-trick as Liverpool warmed up for the start of their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 rout of Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.
Benayoun broke the deadlock with a classy finish before adding his side's third goal after Dirk Kuyt had made it 2-0 shortly before half time.
The Israel midfielder completed his treble late on with another clinical strike.
Liverpool overcame a sluggish start to win back-to-back Premier League games for the first time this season which will give boss Rafael Benitez encouragement ahead of Wednesday's opening Champions League group game with Hungarian side Debrecen.
Benitez had demanded a convincing performance against promoted Burnley ahead of the European kick-off and he certainly got one.
Yet Liverpool were slow to get going as Martin Skrtel and Albert Riera both conceded possession carelessly.
Burnley arrived at Anfield having already claimed victories over two of Liverpool's fiercest rivals, Manchester United and Everton.
And they nearly stunned Liverpool in the opening 40 seconds, Martin Paterson firing narrowly wide in front of the Kop.
It took 17 minutes for the hosts to force Brian Jensen into his first save, Kuyt stinging the fingers of the Danish keeper.
It said much about Burnley's dogged performance that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard were virtually anonymous before Benayoun broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.
He raced past Graham Alexander after cutting inside the area following a neat pass by Glen Johnson before firing low past Jensen.
That awoke Liverpool from their early slumber.
Kuyt doubled the lead with a simple tap-in - his second goal of the campaign - after Jensen had spilled Benayoun's 20-yard effort into the path of the Dutchman.
Despite the scoreline, Burnley had their chances.
Paterson was Burnley's most threatening player and he went close on a couple of occasions but the gulf in class was visible in the second half.
Man-of-the-match Benayoun made it 3-0 on the hour mark after great play by Gerrard and Torres had cut the Clarets defence to pieces.
Gerrard was one of the main inspirations behind England's stunning victory over Croatia in midweek which booked Fabio Capello's side a place at the World Cup.
Yet it was not until the closing stages that he really made his presence felt against Burnley.
He was unfortunate not to find the scoresheet after rounding Jensen, his finish hitting the outside of the post before rebounding to safety.
But Liverpool rammed home their superiority nine minutes from time when Benayoun completed his hat-trick.
He finished from close range after good work by Kuyt in front of the Kop.
All four sides of Anfield rose to applaud the winger who, after a long spell on the bench, should be starting more games in the near future on this evidence.