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Liverpool FC 4 Burnley 0 - James Pearce's verdict
Published : 14 Sep 2009 05:00:00
THE champagne is likely to find a different home but Yossi Benayoun is here to stay. The teetotal midfielder deservedly left Anfield with the man of the match bubbly on Saturday after running Burnley ragged. Benayoun has had to battle to make the grade at Liverpool since he arrived from West Ham two years ago. When he found himself warming the bench during the first half of last season his future at the club was in doubt. But he responded with a string of crucial contributions, most notably a winner in the Bernabeu, and earned himself a new deal. He is still on a mission to prove to Rafa Benitez that he is more than just a useful impact substitute. Having been left out of the side for the trip to Bolton, this was his chance to stake a claim for a regular spot. And he grabbed it in style with a third hat-trick for the club to sit alongside his trebles against Besiktas in the Champions League and the one against Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup. Benayoun shrugged off fatigue after two World Cup qualifiers in Israel to demonstrate that he is an increasingly key member of Benitez's squad. Burnley couldn't handle his nifty footwork and clever movement as he drifted inside from the right and exposed the gaping holes in the visitors' rearguard. Ryan Babel and Albert Riera recently hit out at their lack of first team action but Benayoun has wisely kept his head down and let his boots do the talking. Hopefully others will take note because Benayoun is a shining example to fringe players about what can be achieved through dedication and hard work. The last time an Israeli scored a league hat-trick for Liverpool they went on to win the title. Of course a thumping victory over Premier League new boys Burnley is hardly cause to get carried away. But the manner of the triumph, in which Benayoun matched the feat of his compatriot Ronnie Rosenthal in 1990, offered genuine hope that the Reds are finding their feet after an unimpressive opening month of the season. After seeing their proud unbeaten home league record stretching back nearly two years ended by Aston Villa, this was a case of normal service being resumed.