Liverpool boss Benitez hails hat-trick hero Torres

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez hailed his hat-trick hero Fernando Torres after last night's 4-0 victory over West Ham.

West Ham's second defeat by the same margin in five days saw the Reds leapfrog Merseyside rivals Everton on goal difference.

Manager Rafael Benitez said: "Torres is in great form and he is on fire. Everyone has confidence now that we will score."

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Liverpool have now won three league games on the trot, and Benitez added: "It is now in our own hands whether we qualify for the Champions League.

"But we need to continue this good form at home to Newcastle on Saturday, so we can then turn our attention to Inter Milan in the Champions League next week high on confidence.

"It is good that we are running into form at a crucial time of the season.

"We are playing well as a team, working as a team - that is the difference in our play now."

Torres scored his second hat-trick in successive home league games to take his tally to 24 for the season - having stepped out of his sick bed to play.

The Spaniard had missed two days' training with a stomach bug, and his compatriot said: "It was a worry, but he wanted to play - and he showed he was fine out there.

"I was about to bring him off before he scored his third. Maybe he saw Peter Crouch warming up on the line and decided he only had a few minutes before he was going to be substituted."

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley admitted his disappointment at two bad defeats in the past week.

He said: "We made no impression on Liverpool in any area of the pitch.

"We have had two tough games against Chelsea and now Liverpool, and made no impression on either side. I expected it to be hard - but I did not expect it to be like this.

"This is the first four days of our season that we have let ourselves down. These last two performances have not been good enough, so now we have to go to Spurs on Sunday and get back on track."

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