Rodriguez hits 3 as Liverpool routs Birmingham 5-0
Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez grabbed a hat trick as
Liverpool thrashed Birmingham 5-0 on Saturday to stay in the hunt
for a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
Rodriguez, recalled to the side in place of injured striker Andy
Carroll, opened the scoring in the seventh minute before finding
the net twice in the space of seven second-half minutes to guide
the Reds to a convincing win at Anfield.
”Maxi is a very intelligent footballer. He has not played for a
few weeks and came on and did a fantastic job for us,” Liverpool
manager Kenny Dalglish said.
Netherlands forward Dirk Kuyt – with his seventh goal in the
last six league games – and substitute Joe Cole also struck for
in-form Liverpool, which moved three points behind fifth-place
Tottenham. Liverpool has played one more game.
Finishing fifth will guarantee a spot in next season’s Europa
League, and while Spurs are wobbling, having drawn at home in their
last two matches, Liverpool is full of confidence under the
stewardship of Dalglish.
The team has looked a different proposition since the
60-year-old Scot, a club legend from his playing days, returned for
a second spell as manager by replacing Roy Hodgson in January.
Dalglish is still only in temporary charge but is expected to be
given a permanant contract in the summer.
Birmingham, which is just four points above the relegation zone
with four matches left, was looking to become the first team to
beat Liverpool at home since Dalglish’s return but the visitors
fell 2-0 down by the 23rd minute.
Rodriguez fired home from close range after Birmingham
goalkeeper Ben Foster spilled a shot by Jay Spearing, before Kuyt
doubled the lead by scoring at the second attempt after Foster
blocked the Dutchman’s first shot.
Foster went off injured in the 40th but his replacement, Colin
Doyle, had to pick the ball out of the back of the net three times
in a 20-minute span in the final quarter of the game.
The excellent Luis Suarez beat the offside trap and crossed for
Rodriguez to volley in his second in the 66th and the attacking
midfielder completed his hat trick seven minutes later, slotting in
a low finish after his first shot was parried by Doyle.
Cole wrapped up Liverpool’s biggest win of the season by cutting
inside in the 86th and firing a shot into the corner.
”I think we were deserved winners,” Dalglish said. ”We played
some fantastic football and we have had a good day and it was very
enjoyable for us.”