|Fernando Torres hits the target again [AFP]|
Spanish striker Fernando Torres scored his second Anfield hat-trick in less than two weeks as Liverpool thrashed West Ham United 4-0 to go fourth in the English Premier League.
The former Athletico Madrid player, who got all three in the 3-2 win over Middlesbrough on February 23, was again in sparkling form while Steven Gerrard completed the scoring with a superb fourth.
With their Champions League game against Inter Milan put back to next week, Liverpool faced a test of will against a West Ham side who beat them 1-0 at Upton Park in January.
However, they looked full of conviction from the start and were rewarded with the opening goal by Torres after eight minutes when he turned in a low cross from Dirk Kuyt.
West Ham fought their way back into the game, albeit without ever looking too dangerous, until the same duo combined for the second after 61 minutes, this time Torres heading home the Dutchman's cross.
Torres was close to his hat-trick soon after when he struck the woodwork with a diving header but completed the treble in the 81st minute with a calm finish.
Gerrard rounded off a great night for Liverpool two minutes later when he burst from midfield to blast a fierce shot into the roof of the net.
The victory meant Liverpool leap-frogged city rivals Everton into fourth, worth a place in the Champions League qualifiers at the end of the season, on goal difference.
Both teams have 53 points, five clear of Aston Villa. The two Merseyside rivals meet at Anfield on March 30.
West Ham, also beaten 4-0 by Chelsea on Saturday, remain solidly mid-table in 10th place on 40 points.