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Torres double gets Liverpool back on track

SoccerNews in English Premier League 27 Sep 2008

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Fernando Torres's double was enough to secure Liverpool a 2-0 victory over neighbours Everton and move Rafael Benitez's side to the head of the Premier League table after the Merseyside derby was marred by yet another dismissal.

This time it was Everton's Tim Cahill who saw red – the 17th player to be dismissed in the last 33 league meetings between the two sides.

Benitez's side totally controlled the game, providing a welcome boost after their title credentials had been questioned following last week's draw with Stoke, while Everton manager David Moyes was left to contemplate a dismal start to the campaign.

While Liverpool have emerged as the early pacesetters alongside Arsenal and Chelsea, Moyes' men have now lost their opening three home league games and already look as though they face a season of struggle.

Yet prior to Torres' intervention this game appeared destined to provide yet another afternoon of frustration for Liverpool who have yet to convincingly slip into gear despite making an unbeaten start to their campaign.

For long periods of this game the visitors failed to transform territorial advantage into goals.

With Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso totally dominating the central midfield areas, Liverpool should have created sufficient chances to have effectively won the game by half-time.

But despite a couple of promising early runs from left-winger Albert Riera and a typically enthusiastic burst from Robbie Keane, Liverpool posed little threat to Tim Howard's goal.

The partnership between Torres and Keane is a particular concern for Benitez with the Irishman yet to score since his 21-million-pound summer move from Tottenham Hotspur.

And during the first half at least, the two strikers ploughed individual furrows and showed few signs of working in tandem.

Everton may not have enjoyed anything like the same amount of possession but they created the better first half openings and should have been ahead in the 14th minute when Cahill miscued just four yards out.

Home frustration grew when Mike Riley rejected two penalty appeals – the first following Martin Skrtel's check on Yakubu, the second when Jamie Carragher blocked Cahill's run – that may have been viewed differently by another referee.

The feeling persisted, though, that if Liverpool to maintain control of the game after the break, then the chances would come.

And after a 25-yard drive from Gerrard had flashed narrowly wide, the visitors were ahead when Keane and Torres finally combined to carve open the fragile Everton defence and set up the Spaniard's second goal of the season.

Gerrard's weighted pass allowed Keane, played onside by a sleeping Joleon Lescott, to cross from the by-line and the ball dropped perfectly for Torres to volley past Howard just short of the hour.

It was one of the few occasions the striker had eluded the attentions of Phil Jagielka and it was the Everton centre-back who unwittingly set up Torres' second just three minutes later.

Jagieka appeared to have made a crucial intervention, timing his tackle well to deny Dirk Kuyt a shooting chance, but the challenge succeeded only in diverting the ball into the path of Torres who finished from 12 yards.

Everton were stunned and any chance they had of forcing their way back into the game was gone when Cahill launched an ugly lunge on Alonso to earn a straight red card ten minutes from time.

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