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Luis Suarez scored a magnificent hat-trick as Liverpool saw off West Bromwich Albion with a commanding 4-1 victory at Anfield.
Steve Clarke’s team were chasing a fourth consecutive Barclays Premier League win over Liverpool but a virtuoso display from Suarez ensured that was never on the cards.
A solo effort and a stunning 18-yard header gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at the break and Suarez’s treble was complete when he converted Steven Gerrard’s 55th-minute free-kick.
Although substitute James Morrison handed West Brom a lifeline when he converted a penalty Daniel Sturridge crowned a highly satisfying afternoon for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers with a breathtaking long-range lob.
Both teams made a solitary change from last weekend's action – Victor Moses dropping to the bench to accommodate Lucas Leiva in the Liverpool line-up, while West Brom forward Saido Berahino suffered a similar fate as Nicolas Anelka started against his former club.
Suarez was at the heart of the action from the off, scuffing wide from 20 yards in the seventh minute before tangling with West Brom defender Gareth McAuley and tumbling in the area.
Referee Jon Moss was not interested in the penalty claims, leaving the Uruguay international to take matters into his own hands with a brilliant 12th-minute opener. Collecting a pass from Kolo Toure, Suarez displayed supreme balance and technique as he burst clear of Claudio Yacob, nutmegged Jonas Olsson and slotted beyond goalkeeper Boas Myhill.
It was 2-0 five minutes later when Suarez worked the ball left to wing-back Aly Cissokho and continued his run to plant a remarkable header into the top corner from the 18-yard line.
Martin Skrtel should have made it three before the half hour, missing his kick with the goal gaping on the back of a cleverly worked set-piece involving Suarez and Gerrard.
Morgan Amalfitano limped off to be replaced by Morrison and apparently complete West Brom's first-half misery but Skrtel was required to make a goal-saving tackle in stoppage time when Anelka rounded Simon Mignolet from Olsson's raking ball forward.
West Brom continued to give away free-kicks in dangerous areas, and, after Sturridge fizzed a viciously swerving effort wide, Suarez completed his treble.
After Yacob earned a booking for fouling Sturridge on the left flank Gerrard produced a sumptuous delivery for Suarez to leap and glance into the far top corner.
Liverpool's attacks were unrelenting – Sturridge blazing over from Glen Johnson’s 58th-minute cross before driving at the beleaguered West Brom backline and planting a side-footed effort against the crossbar.
The visitors were handed a route back into the match in the 66th minute, Morrison crashing home a penalty after Cissokho caught full-back Billy Jones on a burst into the box.
Liverpool briefly started to appear ragged but Sturridge calmed Anfield in the most emphatic manner and there was still time for Myhill to touch a Suarez overhead kick onto the bar.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers: "We were outstanding today. West Brom are a very good side, they went to Old Trafford and won, so for us to score four goals - and could have had a few more - it was an outstanding team performance. When you have the two boys up front, and that attacking threat, it's fantastic. We're disappointed with the penalty decision but other than that we're very pleased.
"Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are very hard to contain. Both of them have different qualities and both are goalscorers. I thought our midfield three today were excellent. We're just looking to keep improving, not getting carried away, and the boys at the top end did their job and got the goals. It should be a brilliant game (against Arsenal) next week."
West Brom head coach Steve Clarke: "It was a difficult afternoon. We set ourselves up to be open, but maybe we were a little bit too open. The first goal is disappointing to lose and the second goal is an unbelievable header from the edge of the box.
"We kept going, you can't fault the effort, but we gave ourselves too big a mountain to climb. We created a number of chances, it was an open game, probably great for the Liverpool fans to watch. At the moment their two boys up front are in form and we suffered for that."
|02 Feb 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|12 Feb 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|01 Jan 2014||v Hull (H)|
|22 Mar 2014||v Cardiff (A)|
|09 Nov 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|23 Feb 2014||v Swansea (H)|