Rampant Reds revive faint top four hope

FULHAM (2) vs LIVERPOOL (5)

LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish is refusing to give up on gatecrashing the Champions League places after Maxi Rodriguez’s second hat-trick in three games helped them romp past Fulham.

Dirk Kuyt and the outstanding Luis Suarez also scored, with Moussa Dembele and Steve Sidwell replying for the home side, as the Reds glided past Tottenham into fifth place.

Dalglish’s men are now just four points adrift of Manchester City and the coveted last top four place but, with four wins from five, are in perfect form to take advantage should City slip up in the run-in.

“We’ll wait and see,” he said. “Where it’s going to take us, we don’t know, because we don’t know how many points we’re going to get. Who would’ve predicted coming here and winning 5-2? I certainly wouldn’t.”

City are favourites in the three-way race for fourth but, with games between the rivals still to come, including tonight when Spurs visit Eastlands, there may be more twists.

“No one would have anticipated the run the boys have been on since January,” added Dalglish. “It’s been unbelievable. Even if we don’t get fifth we’ve been absolutely fantastic.”

Liverpool and Maxi wasted no time, the Argentina midfielder tucking away the top flight’s fastest goal of the season on 31 seconds after Fulham failed to clear a low Suarez cross. His red-hot form continued just six minutes later when he reached Glen Johnson’s right-wing delivery at the far post and beat Schwarzer from an acute angle.

The Australian goalkeeper was even more culpable for the visitors’ third after little more than a quarter of an hour, letting Dirk Kuyt’s speculative drive sneak in at his near post.

Dembele gave Fulham hope when he side-footed home after the break, but it was extinguished when Maxi completed his hat-trick and took his tally to seven in three games with a lashing 20-yard drive.

Suarez rounded Scwarzer for the fifth, rendering Sidwell’s fine 86th-minute volley even more irrelevant.