Liverpool thrash Birmingham
Liverpool - Maxi Rodriguez hit a brilliant hat-trick to fire Liverpool to an emphatic 5-0 victory against Birmingham at Anfield on Saturday.
Rodriguez's impressive early opener was followed by Dirk Kuyt's seventh goal in his past six Premier League games to set Liverpool on their way.
Rodriguez scored two more after the break and a late fifth from Joe Cole gave Liverpool their biggest victory since Kenny Dalglish returned as manager.
The home side were without injured duo Fabio Aurelio and Andy Carroll who both pulled up with complaints in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.
But the way Liverpool turned on the style showed how spirited and confident they have become since Dalglish returned as manager in January.
Anfield legend Dalglish only has the job until the end of the season but it only seems a matter of time until he is appointed as the Reds manager on a full-time basis.
Liverpool's style and attacking mentality since Dalglish returned has revitalised a season that appeared to be dead and buried at Christmas and this fine victory ensured that only Manchester United and Chelsea have gained more points than the Reds in the time that Dalglish has been back.
Rodriguez gave Liverpool an early lead as Ben Foster failed to hold on to a Jay Spearing blast and he was on hand to pounce from close range and clip past the Birmingham goalkeeper.
Birmingham attempted to get back into the game but they had little success against a Liverpool backline superbly marshalled by Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel.
And as the half progressed, Liverpool did get on top and began controlling the game as their dominant midfield over-ran the visitors.
A second goal always felt inevitable and so it proved when Luis Suarez showed impressive power and pace to charge through on goal and although Foster made two fine quickfire saves, the ball eventually fell to Kuyt who swept in from 12 yards out.
That effectively ended the game as a contest as Birmingham never showed the poise or adventure required to get back into the game, although they were not helped when Foster had to go off before the break with an injury.
Liverpool spent the remainder of the first half pressing ever harder for a third goal and went close on several occasions.
Dalglish's side emphatically confirmed their superiority with 25 minutes left as they scored a fine team goal.
A long ball was picked up by Suarez, who was played onside by Stephen Carr, and his run and superb cross was brilliantly volleyed home by Rodriguez.
The Argentine's amazing afternoon was not finished there either as he then grabbed the match ball as Birmingham fell to pieces at the back.
His long-range shot was well stopped by Colin Doyle but the rebound fell nicely for Rodriguez and he could not miss as he tapped into an open goal to seal his hat-trick.
With five minutes remaining and the game firmly in the bag, Liverpool brought Cole off the bench and he rewarded Dalglish with a fifth goal as his low shot squirmed in.