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Updated: March 16, 2010 14:35 IST

Liverpool routs Portsmouth 4-1

DPA
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Fernando Torres
AP Fernando Torres

Liverpool cruised to a 4-1 victory over Portsmouth to reinvigorate their challenge for fourth place and Champions League qualification.

Rafa Benitez’s side lie fifth, a point behind Tottenham Hotspur, having played a game more, and a point ahead of Manchester City, who have two games in hand on Liverpool.

The game was settled by a burst of three goals in six minutes around the half hour, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel getting the first two before Alberto Aquilani hit his first for the club.

Torres rounded off the scoring for Liverpool with his second late on, before Nadir Belhadj’s strike for Portsmouth.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, remain five points adrift at the bottom, eight points from safety with a probable nine-point deduction for entering administration to come. For them, relegation seems all but certain.

There had been unfamiliar signs of fluency about Liverpool from the off, but it took an error from Portsmouth keeper Jamie Ashdown after 26 minutes to gift them the lead.

His attempted clearance was charged down by Steven Gerrard, the ball breaking for Maxi Rodriguez, whose cross was swept in by Torres.

The second followed two minutes later, Torres leaving Marc Wilson on his backside before cutting it back for Babel to poke in.

The third came four minutes after that, Gerrard dummying Torres’s pull-back for Aquilani to score.

Torres hit the post before half-time, and Glenn Johnson might have had a penalty in the second half, before Torres smashed a fourth from Aquilani’s pass with 13 minutes remaining.

Belhadj got a late consolation, but that couldn’t take the gloss off an emphatic Liverpool win.

What may sully the night, though, was a coming together between Gerrard and Michael Brown in which the Liverpool midfielder seemed to use an arm. An FA investigation is possible.

The real test of any Liverpool resurgence, though, will come at the weekend against Manchester United.

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