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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

No guarantees for Torres: Benitez

Benitez refuses to promise Fernando Torres a regular starting place despite seeing the Spaniard score his first Liverpool hat trick against Reading.

sports Updated: Sep 26, 2007 15:26 IST


Rafael Benitez refused to promise Fernando Torres a regular starting place despite seeing the Spaniard score his first Liverpool hat trick in their League Cup third round win at Reading.

Benitez sparked an angry reaction from Liverpool fans by resting Torres for Liverpool's recent goalless Premier League draws with Portsmouth and Birmingham.

But the 26 million pound striker responded by inspiring Liverpool to a 4-2 win at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday.

"With Fernando's pace you know he will kill defenders and he had a terrific game," said Benitez.

"If he is not injured and if he keeps training well, maybe he will start the game against Wigan on Saturday. We have four good strikers and I need to watch all of them. If you play well you have got a chance and as a manager you have to make difficult decisions."

Israel international Yossi Benayoun put Liverpool in front with his first goal since a summer move from West Ham in the 22nd minute, capping a fine solo run with a powerful finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Bobby Convey drew Reading level with his first goal after a year out with a knee injury just seven minutes later.

Torres restored Liverpool's lead five minutes into the second half with the first goal of his classy treble, holding off Michael Duberry's challenge before side-footing into the bottom left corner.

Defender John Halls equalised for a second time with a scruffy effort before Torres made it 3-2 in the 71st minute when he turned home John Arne Risse's left wing cross.

Torres completed his memorable night when he rounded stand-in Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici four minutes from time.

Defender Jamie Carragher is tipping the visitors' match winner to become an Anfield folk hero.

Carragher, who captained the team in the absence of the rested Steven Gerrard, said: "It was a fantastic hat trick and hopefully it will be the first of many.

"There were some great finishes and he has made a great start to his career at the club. He is going to be a great signing for us and that is not just down to the goals. He is a real team player."

"He has won us the game and it was a sensational performance. I do not know if he will start the next game because that is a decision for the manager but I'm sure he will make a big impact this season.

"I have won this trophy twice and it would be great to win it for a third time. We want to win every competition. It is early days but hopefully we will get a home draw in the next round and have a good chance of progressing further."

Reading manager Steve Coppell, who made eight changes from Saturday's 2-1 win at home to Wigan, was impressed by Torres.

"He is a big talent and was the major difference between the two teams. He caused us lots of problems with his pace and power," Coppell said.

"Liverpool have made nine changes and still won the game and that shows the strength of the top four."

First Published: Sep 26, 2007 14:56 IST