Red hero Gerrard calls for sprint finish
LIVERPOOL - Agence France-PresseSteven Gerrard urged Liverpool to end the season with a flourish after hitting a spectacular Merseyside derby hat-trick.
Gerrard became the first Liverpool player since Ian Rush in 1982-83 to score a league treble against Everton as the Reds coasted to a 3-0 win over their neighbors at Anfield.
It ended a three-match losing run in the Premier League, after defeats to Sunderland, Arsenal and Manchester United, and lifted Liverpool to within two points of sixth-placed Newcastle United.
Although a top-four finish and a place in next season’s Champions League appears unlikely -- Liverpool trails fourth-placed Arsenal by 10 points with 10 games remaining -- Gerrard is anxious Dalglish’s side does not allow the campaign to fizzle out and wants to end the season on a high.
Liverpool, who ended a six-year trophy drought last month when it won the League Cup, entertains Stoke in the last-eight of the FA Cup on Sunday.
“It’s been a frustrating run for us, we never turned up at Sunderland and we are going from one extreme to the other at the moment. We need a winning streak,” said Gerrard, after his first hat-trick since scoring three against Napoli in the Europa League in November 2010.
“To get three goals is a bit extra, but I have to give Luis Suarez a special mention. He put two on a plate for me. I haven’t played with him much, but when I have we have an understanding. Hopefully that can continue.”
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was delighted for Gerrard, who has endured a frustrating season with injuries.
“All the local boys were fantastic for us,” said Dalglish. “I’m not educated enough to add to the fantastic comments about Steven Gerrard.
“He’s had one or two bumps and injuries this year but to come back and get three in the derby will be a boost for him.
“His quality is there for all to see. He’s been a fantastic player for this club throughout his whole career and he always will be.
“Steven, rightly so, will get all the headlines but he’ll admit that he wouldn’t have got his goals without the help of his teammates.”