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Saturday 31st March 2007 @ 12:45 pm
at Anfield
FA Premiership



Peter Crouch's first hat-trick at club level saw Liverpool leap-frog Arsenal to go third in the Premiership.

Crouch turned in Alvaro Arbeloa's cross to put Liverpool ahead after four minutes, then headed in from Fabio Aurelio's delivery in the 34th minute.

Daniel Agger glanced in another brilliant Aurelio cross on the hour before William Gallas poked in from almost on the line for Arsenal.

Crouch then made it a treble with a neat turn and finish after 80 minutes.

Liverpool recalled Crouch, who missed England's two Euro 2008 matches to have an operation on a broken nose.

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And the giant striker was the central figure in a first 45 minutes that saw Liverpool cruise into the lead.

He provided the perfect finish to a delightful Liverpool build-up in the fourth minute, sweeping in at the near post after Jermaine Pennant's neat flick set up Arbeloa for the cross.

Arsenal looked lethargic, but threatened briefly when Emmanuel Adebayor headed just over.

But Crouch was in rampant mood, ignoring the better-placed Steven Gerrard to fire an ambitious shot across the face of goal after 26 minutes.

The unpredictable Julio Baptista should have drawn Arsenal level five minutes later when he was played in by Adebayor, but the man who scored four at Anfield in a Carling Cup tie earlier this season side-footed tamely wide.

And it proved an expensive miss as Liverpool doubled their advantage 11 minutes before half-time.

Xabi Alonso's quick free-kick found Aurelio, and Crouch soared to meet his perfect cross to send a brilliant header high past the diving Jens Lehmann.

Arsenal's luck was out again after 53 minutes when Adebayor's low left-foot shot rebounded to safety off the post.

There was some concern for Liverpool when captain Gerrard went off two minutes later.

He needed to have an ice-pack applied to a thigh injury - with boss Rafa Benitez hoping he will recover in time for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg against PSV Eindhoven.

But the smiles were back on Liverpool faces just on the hour when a superbly delivered free-kick from Aurelio was glanced past Lehmann by Agger.

Adebayor was still battling away, but he was cursing again after 63 minutes when his header was turned on to an upright by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.

Arsenal pulled a goal back with 18 minutes left, Gallas turning home from almost on the line after Kolo Toure touched on substitute Tomas Rosicky's corner.

But any hopes of an unlikely Arsenal comeback were snuffed out after 80 minutes when Crouch turned Toure expertly before firing past Lehmann.

BBC Sport

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Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Pennant, Alonso, Mascherano (Riise 82), Gonzalez (Zenden 69), Gerrard (Kuyt 56), Crouch.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Fowler.

Booked: Alonso.

Goals: Crouch 4, 35, Agger 60, Crouch 81.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue (Hoyte 82), Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas, Diaby (Rosicky 65), Denilson, Julio Baptista (Ljungberg 65), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Almunia, Senderos.

Booked: Diaby, Lehmann, Fabregas.

Goals: Gallas 73.

Att: 43,958.

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

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