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WE WILL BE TORRP DOGS; ENGLISH Fernando puts title push back on track.

Byline: ED CASEY REPORTS

LIVERPOOL 2

CHELSEA 0

FERNANDO TORRES hit two last-gasp glory goals yesterday and insisted they can be the springboard for Liverpool to capture the Premiership title.

Torres' strikes were his first in the league since October following a series of injury problems and they ended his side's run of three games without a win.

They came after Chelsea had midfielder Frank Lampard controversially sent off after a 60th-minute tackle on Xabi Alonso.

The victory enabled Liverpool to close to within two points of leaders Manchester United with a game more played but they are determined to claw that back and capture the crown for the first time in 19 years.

Spanish international Torres said: "We knew we had to win and now we have more confidence to win the league.

"The goals are my first after injury and to score at home this season for the first time and against Chelsea is fantastic.

"With one player less Chelsea had to defend. A draw was good for them but we had to win. We worked very hard but know we have to improve.

"Manchester United are favourites at the top but we will fight until the end."

Alonso forced the first save from Petr Cech in 11 minutes, seeing his 20-yarder tipped over. Then Javier Mascherano fired in a 30-yarder that Cech parried away with no Liverpool man near to take advantage.

The midfield battle started to get tasty with tackles flying in. Mascherano was booked for flattening John Obi Mikel and soon after Ashley Cole was cautioned for a foul on Dirk Kuyt.

Torres and Alberto Riera both tested Chelsea with their direct running but it was a very tight contest.

Michael Ballack and Lampard were quick to support Nicolas Anelka, putting Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel under severe pressure.

The second half was just a minute old when Alonso was cautioned for a foul on Salomon Kalou and Mikel was soon to be in referee Mike Riley's book for a foul on Alvaro Arbeloa.

Then on the hour Lampard was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Alonso.

He connected with the ball but also the Spaniard's ankle. John Terry was booked for protesting and Chelsea will rightly point out that Steven Gerrard had been merely warned for a similar tackle minutes earlier.

Alex then deflected Alonso's drive on to the bar as Liverpool tried to take advantage.

Gerrard was booked for diving as Liverpool cranked up the pressure, with Torres having a shot hooked away by Kalou.

With two minutes to go Torres met a Fabio Aurelio cross to head past Cech.

And in injury-time Yossi Benayoun, who had been booted by Jose Bosingwa at the corner flag as he tried to run down time, got away in the box after a mistake by Cole and Torres fired home from eight yards.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez did not think Lampard's dismissal was the turning point, claiming his side always had the edge.

He said: "We were better than them.

The question was to create more clear chances.We needed to wait until the end.

"They were playing with 10 men but we were better through the whole game.

"We were in a fantastic position before the game and it is much better now."

When asked to confirm whether Robbie Keane - who was again left out of the squad - would still be a Liverpool player after tomorrow's transfer deadline, Benitez replied: "I think so."

Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted Liverpool had been the better side but called on referee Riley to review his decision to send off Lampard.

He said: "The result after what happened with Lampard was normal because they had more possession and quality but before then they did not.

"I want the referee to look at this on television and maybe change this card for Lampard. When I look at it I see it as a foul by the other player."

Scolari admitted Bosingwa had committed a far worse foul on Benayoun.

He said: "If the referee decided to send off Bosingwa I would have understood. A red card for this I would accept but not Lampard's.

"We still have many more games to play but it is more difficult than before for us to win the league."

CAPTION(S):

BOOT BOY: Jose Bosingwa kicks Yossi Benayoun in front of a linesman but amazingly escapes punishment; FER KOP: Fernando Torres accepts the acclaim of Liverpool's Kop as he celebrates the first of a double after Frank Lampard is shown red, left
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:762
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