LONDON, England -- Fernando Torres hit a second-half hat-trick to earn Liverpool a place in the fourth round of the English League Cup with a 4-2 win at Reading, sending a timely reminder to coach Rafael Benitez in the process.
Torres celebrates scoring one of his goals on his way to a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory at Reading.
Benitez had left the Spanish striker, signed for $48 million from Atletico Madrid in the summer, out of the starting line-up for their last two Premier League matches.
But he returned with a vengeance to kill off battling Reading in a six-goal thriller.
Liverpool, unbeaten in nine games this season, made nine changes to the side which drew with Birmingham 0-0 at the weekend and they went ahead in the 23rd minute thanks to a magnificent solo run and shot from Yossi Benayoun.
However, the lead was shortlived as Reading drew level in the 27th minute when Bobby Convey angled home a volley from a corner.
The visitors went back in front in the 49th minute when Sebastian Leto sent Torres through the middle with a slide-rule pass.
The Spaniard made no mistake as he slipped the ball beyond goalkeeper Adam Federici and into the corner of the net for the first of his terrific treble -- his fourth goal in six starts.
Reading were far from finished and in the 64th minute Liverpool failed to deal with another Reading corner adequately and the ball fell to defender John Halls, whose low whot found the corner of the net.
Torres struck for a second time in the 70th minute when he converted a low cross from substitute John Arne Riise to restore Liverpool's lead.
The Spaniard was now in his element and four minutes from the end he capped a superb performance with his hat-trick. England midfielder Steven Gerrard, on as a late substitute, put Torres in the clear and he kept his cool to round Federici and slot the ball into the net.
Meanwhile, a youthful Arsenal side are also through to the next round, but they left it late to beat Newcastle 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.
The match seemed destined for extra-time until Niklas Bendtner's header from Armand Traore's left-wing cross on 83 minutes.
The result was put beyond any doubt when Brazilian midfielder Denilson rifled in a superb 20-yard effort with a minute to go.
David Nugent made amends for a glaring first-half miss by scoring to help Portsmouth claim a narrow 1-0 victory at Championship side Burnley.
Nugent wasted a glorious chance to give Pompey the half-time advantage when his attempted nutmeg of goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly failed miserably.
However, Portsmouth made the breakthrough when Nugent scored after 69 minutes with a well taken goal and Harry Redknapp's side held on for victory. E-mail to a friend
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