History man Torres on target as Liverpool beat Blackburn
( AFP ) - Fernando Torres secured his place in Liverpool history by becoming the first player to score in seven successive top-flight league games at Anfield as Rafa Benitez's team sealed a 3-1 win against Blackburn Rovers here on Sunday. Spain striker Torres made it 30 goals in his debut season for the club with his 82nd minute strike for the Champions League semi-finalists.
His effort came after Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard had marked his 300th Premier League game for the club by opening the scoring on the hour mark with his 21st goal of the season.
The win, rounded off by Andriy Voronin's 90th minute goal, took Liverpool five points clear of closest challengers and city rivals Everton in the race for fourth spot in the Premier League and the Champions League spot that goes with it.
"It's a really proud day to clock up that many games. It's a great day, a good performance, we're just disappointed with conceding late on," Gerrard told Sky Sports.
Gerrard and Torres have now scored more than 50 goals between them this season, and the skipper paid tribute to the forward's impact since his move pre-season move from Atletico Madrid.
"He makes good runs and he's a pleasure to play with," Gerrard said. "To get 30 goals in his first season is unbelievable and I'm sure he's got a few left."
Not for the first time this season, Liverpool went into a match with the club's off-field problems hogging the headlines as Tom Hicks, who has fallen out with his fellow American co-owner George Gillett, again called for the resignation of chief executive Rick Parry.
"We're Liverpool Football Club, we're better than that," said Gerrard.
Benitez too was taken aback by the very public nature of Liverpool's boardroom battles. "I was surprised it was something I could read in the press.
"I will talk with the board, I think it's important for me to try to understand the situation," the Spaniard added.
But Liverpool have somehow been able to concentrate solely on footballing matters and their success in doing so saw them qualify for the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in four seasons by beating Arsenal on Wednesday.
Although this match was goalless at half-time, it wasn't for the want of trying by Liverpool, particularly Gerrard and Torres.
Torres headed wide in the ninth minute after he had been picked out by Gerrard at the far post and Brazilian defender Fabio Aurelio then went close with a left-foot effort from close range.
England midfielder Gerrard was fortunate to escape an 18th minute booking, however, when he appeared to dive in order to win a penalty.
Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel made no contact with Gerrard and referee Alan Wiley waved play on when he arguably should have cautioned the midfielder.
In front of the watching England coach Fabio Capello, Gerrard once more underlined his leadership abilities, however, when he produced another superb goal to give Liverpool the lead in the 60th minute.
Yossi Benayoun, having stolen the ball off Roque Santa Cruz 30 yards from the Blackburn goal, relayed the ball to Gerrard.
The Liverpool skipper played a one-two with Lucas Leiva before powering past defenders Ryan Nelsen and Chris Samba on the edge of the penalty area.
And once Gerrard broke into the 18-yard box, he coolly slotted the ball past former Liverpool keeper Friedel to open the scoring in front of the Kop.
Torres then made the game safe with a header from Gerrard's cross before substitute Voronin diverted John Arne Riise's cross into the net.
"The understanding between Gerrard and Torres was, at the end, the key," Benitez reflected.
Santa Cruz's spectacular volley two minutes into stoppage time was arguably the goal of the game but that was no consolation for Rovers.