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08 Nov 2010

Liverpool's rejuvenation continued as two moments of brilliance from Fernando Torres sunk Premier League leaders Chelsea at Anfield.

Torres, who has struggled for form and fitness since the 2010 World Cup finals, was back to his best to torment Chelsea once more, ensuring the champions' lead at the top of the table remained at two points and Liverpool rose into the top 10 with a third successive league victory.

The Spain striker opened the scoring early on with a finish of rare finesse and added his second a minute before the break with a magnificent curling effort past Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to make it seven goals in eight games against the west Londoners.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson's side then defended their lead doggedly in the face of a renewed challenge from the visitors after the break, helped by the belated introduction of Didier Drogba, who had been suffering from a fever and was restricted to the substitutes' bench in the first half.

Chelsea badly missed the influence of midfield pair Frank Lampard and Michael Essien, and Liverpool's feverish work-rate, allied to the Torres's outstanding finishing, earned them three points that was celebrated ecstatically on The Kop.

Hodgson will be starting to feel his reign, so troubled and turbulent early on as they dropped into the relegation zone, is now clicking into gear - although there is still so much work to be done, and confidence is still a rebuilding process judging by the needless retreat into negativity for periods of the second half.

The 63-year-old's Chelsea counterpart Carlo Ancelotti will reflect on a display that never kicked into life until the second half, when Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina saved brilliantly from Florent Malouda before diverting Nicolas Anelka's shot on to the bar in a frantic finale.

Ancelotti had to leave Drogba on the bench, and the Ivorian was sorely missed as he was forced to watch Liverpool's master marksman Torres provide all the quality in the first 45 minutes.

The Blues boss cut a frustrated figure in his technical area as his team's lifeless display was punished ruthlessly by Torres.

Dirk Kuyt's return after an ankle injury not only provided the home side with greater endeavour but also invaluable support for Torres, and it was those two forwards who combined to carve through Chelsea's defence after 11 minutes.

Torres's first touch was perfect as he collected Kuyt's clever pass and the Spaniard's finish was of equal quality as he lifted the ball over Cech.

Reina was virtually unemployed in the first 45 minutes as Chelsea failed to mount any serious threat, and it was another moment of magic from Torres that doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Raul Meireles won possession from Ashley Cole in midfield, and when the Portuguese midfielder found Torres, the Spaniard curled a stunning finish into the only space available to send Anfield into ecstasy.

Ancelotti responded by introducing Drogba for the second half at the expense of Salomon Kalou - and the effect was obvious, helped by Liverpool's obvious desire to hold on to what they had.

In a spell of sustained pressure from the Blues, Ramires headed Cole's cross over the top when he should have done better and Reina saved well from Yuri Zhirkov's powerful angled effort.

As the visitors applied the pressure, Reina came to Liverpool's rescue with a crucial reaction save from Malouda as he stole in on the end of Drogba's cross.

Liverpool broke the shackles with 15 minutes left and almost wrapped up the win when the men from Stamford Bridge could only half-clear a corner and Cech diverted Kuyt's effort away with his legs.

Chelsea's last chance came and went when Reina's turned Anelka's shot on to the bar, leaving Anfield in full voice as Liverpool celebrated a vital win.  

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