Liverpool 5-0 Aston Villa

Rafa Benitez sat back and enjoyed the view as his side blitzed Aston Villa to pile the pressure on Manchester United. 
Goals from Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera, followed by a Steven Gerrard spot-kick, left Liverpool home and dry before the interval. 
But Gerrard quickly added to the tally in the second period as United's lead at the top of the league was cut to just a point. 
And the England ace completed his hat-trick with a second penalty of the afternoon after Brad Friedel was red-carded for bringing down Fernando Torres. 
Liverpool made the perfect start when Kuyt smashed them ahead after just eight minutes. 
Gerrard's free-kick was headed against the bar by Xabi Alonso but the Dutchman was on hand to drill home the rebound. 
Villa tried to hit back immediately with a swift break. Ashley Young fired in a decent cross but the ball flew off the arriving Gareth Barry's knee and away to safety. 
Young continued to cause Liverpool problems without finding a telling delivery for strike duo John Carew and Emile Heskey. 
And it was the hosts who came closest to scoring again in the 16th minute when Gerrard narrowly missed at the far post after latching on to a deflected cross. 
Villa nearly grabbed an equaliser five minutes later and again it was Young who created the opportunity. 
The England international's delivery was met by Carew but the striker's clever left-footed flick was turned away by Pepe Reina. 
Liverpool cleared their lines from the resulting corner and Gerrard became the first player to go in the ref's notebook just seconds later for a lunge at Curtis Davies. 
The physical presence of Villa's front two became a more dominant factor as the half wore on. 
Nigel Reo-Coker swung a long ball into the box with 25 minutes on the clock and Reina had to be at his best to turn away Carew's goalbound header. 
The game continued to swing from end to end before Reina decided to take the direct approach and create Liverpool's second of the afternoon. 
He launched a long kick into the Villa box and Riera raced through to smash the ball past Friedel 12 minutes before the break. 
The visitors should have fallen further behind when Friedel's stray pass went straight to the feet of Alvaro Arbeloa. 
But the defender tried to cut the ball back to Torres instead of shooting and the danger was quickly cleared. 
Villa, however, contributed to their own downfall once again in the 39th minute when Reo-Coker sent Riera crashing in the box. 
Gerrard stepped up to net the resulting spot-kick, lifting the roof at Anfield in the process. 
With nothing to lose in the second half, Villa came out looking to salvage some pride. 
But the red juggernaut quickly battered them into submission with Gerrard's expertly placed free-kick making it 4-0 with 50 minutes played. 
Liverpool continued to pour forward after the goal and Alonso wasted a golden chance when he found himself in acres of space. 
The unmarked Spaniard picked up Kuyt's pass in the box but could only drag his shot disappointingly wide. 
Villa's day went from bad to worse when Friedel sent Torres crashing. 
The American keeper did his best to get out of the striker's way but could have no complaint when the referee pointed to the spot. 
And with the visitors down to 10 men, Gerrard clamly sent substitute stopper Brad Guzan the wrong way to net his third goal.