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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Can Now Call Him: Captain Fan-Hat-Trick!!

When Liverpool legend and the club’s all-time goalscorer Ian Rush scored 4 goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside Derby in November 6 1982, a certain kid named Steven George Gerrard was only 2years and 159 days old. He may have watched the match alright but at that age, it’s obvious he barely understood what was going on.

Had you told anyone who was part of the 52,741 fans who turned up to watch the match at Goodison Park that it would take a massive three decades for that feat to be achieved, they would have given you that “pliz!!” look. You can guess right how their reaction could have been had you pointed out that it’s the then thumb-sucking Gerrard who would do it.

Fast forward to Tuesday March 13, 2012 at 2000hrs (UK time), open the Anfield gates and usher in over 44,900 supporters, add the millions of other fanatics watching on TV and following through live streams online. And of course don’t close the Merseyside Messiah out.

Well, if there was one player who was going to break that hat-trick duck, you would have bet your last pence on Steven Gerrard. Now 32 years, the Liverpool captain fantastic became the first player in 30 years and also first in Premier League era to score a hat-trick in the Merseyside derby, celebrating his 400th Premier League appearance for the Reds in style and ruining David Moyes’ 10-year anniversary as Everton boss.

Liverpool went into the match (which was postponed because of the Carling Cup final clash with Cardiff) lying seventh and at the back of a dismal run which had seen them lose three successive premier league matches, the first time that has happened in nine years. Gerrard himself had come out and fired a warning shot to his colleagues saying they needed “to take responsibility for where we (Liverpool) are in the league.”

So like a commander who leads from the front, the Reds’ legend marched in front followed by ten others an aim to grit out a win, ugly, beautiful or both, claim the three points and of course ensure it’s the red side of Merseyside that continues to brag.

Liverpool had the best exchanges and controlled the game from the off and created the best opportunities but had to wait until the 34th minute to pull ahead in the 217th Merseyside derby. A neat exchange saw the ball fall to the feet of Martin Kelly and the academy graduate hit a low shot which was well saved by Tim Howard. Kelly followed the rebound and the ball, luckily for Reds and unluckily for the Blues, fell to Gerard lurking at the edge of the box. The returning captain, playing his 26th derby, pounced on the loose ball and lofted it above the head of everyone and into the net.

1-0 Liverpool going into the interval. Tim Howard was furious, Kenny Dalglish reveled with claps that would have pleased his Sunday service pastor.

It didn’t take long for Liverpool to extend their lead after the interval. Jordan Henderson’s touch of class found Suarez inside the right-hand channel. The Uruguayan, like he always does, waltzed past Sylvain Distin and crossed for Gerrard to whack in his and Liverpool’s second with just 51 minutes on the Anfield clock. You could have seen David Moyes’ face.

Everton then survived a string of attacks but were totally knocked out in the third minute of added time. And it was a demonstration of counter-attacking football proper.

Royston Drenthe surrendered possession just inside the Liverpool half. Gerard collected the ball and raced into the edge of Everton’s box before crossing for Suarez. The Liverpool No 7 had the chance to score his 7th premier league goal but he instead gave Distin another reason for him to work on his defensive sharpness, turning in the French footballer and laying it for Gerrard.

The Kop idol endeared himself further as the ‘God’ of Anfield slotting the ball home for his 8th derby goal and a superb hat-trick. The win saw Liverpool record their fifth premier league double over the Toffees.

Most importantly though, it narrowed the gap to fourth place to 10 points with as many games remaining.

Well, as former Liverpool winger Luis Garcia said while congratulating Gerrard on twitter, “Just the special ones can score a hat trick on a Merseyside Derby.” Stevie G is Special!!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!