Fernando Torres came off the bench to head a stoppage-time winner as Liverpool twice came from behind to reclaim top spot in the Premier League with a thrilling 3-2 victory at Portsmouth on Saturday. Dirk Kuyt, who like Torres and midfielder Xabi Alonso did not make manager Rafa Benitez's much-changed starting lineup, had also fired a late equaliser for Liverpool. Benitez's team have 54 points from 25 matches, one point ahead of champions Manchester United who have two games in hand starting with Sunday's visit to West Ham United. Chelsea left the field to the sound of booing as their fading title challenge took another blow in a 0-0 home draw with Hull City, six days after losing 2-0 at Liverpool. The Londoners dropped to fourth, behind Aston Villa who won 2-0 at Blackburn Rovers. One large banner unfurled by Chelsea fans at the final whistle called for Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari to be sacked. "These players are used to winning games and reaching a very high standard and we did not reach that standard today," assistant manager Ray Wilkins told the BBC. "We rather huffed and puffed if the truth be known. We were a bit lucky to keep a clean sheet in the end." Chelsea manager Scolari gave a debut to loan signing Ricardo Quaresma in a bid to kickstart his faltering side. The Portuguese winger, surplus to requirements at Inter Milan, made a lively start before eventually being replaced by Didier Drogba. John Terry blazed a simple chance over the crossbar in the first half and Michael Ballack sent a free kick against the woodwork but Hull were worthy of a draw which means Chelsea have now dropped 16 points at home this season. Villa, who claimed a club record seventh consecutive away league win thanks to goals from James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor, have 51 points from 25 games with Chelsea on 49. "It was a wonderful victory," said manager Martin O'Neill after Villa's 10th away league win this season. "I'm delighted with the record, the team has done magnificently. I do genuinely think the team are coming on strong now and have a lot of confidence." SPARKLING DEBUT Brazilian striker Jo made a sparkling debut for sixth-placed Everton, earning a first-half penalty for Mikel Arteta to convert and scoring two goals after the break in a 3-0 triumph over Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park. Goalkeeper Shay Given, another debutant, also shone in Manchester City's 1-0 home victory over Middlesbrough who have now gone 13 matches without a win. Newcastle United eased their relegation fears with a 3-2 triumph at bottom club West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City's 2-0 defeat at Sunderland meant the four clubs at the bottom all lost. Wigan Athletic and Fulham played out a 0-0 draw. Benitez opted to start with Liverpool duo Torres and Kuyt, his first-choice strikers, on the bench in a late kickoff at Fratton Park and his plan appeared to have backfired as Portsmouth led 2-1 after 84 minutes. All five goals came in a breathless second half with David Nugent putting Portsmouth ahead after a neat pass by Peter Crouch before Fabio Aurelio smashed the ball home following an indirect free kick. Hermann Hreidarsson headed Portsmouth back in front but with Kuyt and Torres now on, Liverpool staged a grandstand finish. Kuyt combined with Torres before the Dutchman belted a shot past a stunned David James in goal and there was still time for Torres to supply a dramatic winner. LIVERPOOL FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Ian Rush, Craig Johnston Q&A Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres One on One Michael Owen, Nicolas Anelka, Kevin Keegan Boy's A Bit Special Danny Guthrie Ask A Silly Question John Barnes, Peter Crouch, Luis Garcia, John Aldridge Perfect XI Jamie Carragher What Happened Next? Julian Dicks And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan Plus! Rate Liverpool players (and others) on Talentspotter
7 February 2009
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