Masch on target in Reds win

Javier Mascherano scored his first goal for the club as Liverpool defeated Reading 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday afternoon and again put the pressure back on Everton who play on Sunday.

Mascherano equalised after Marek Matejovsky had given the Royals a third minute lead following a duibiously awarded free kick. And Fernando Torres grabbed his 27th goal of the season when he scored the winner for the Reds early in the second half.

The Spanish striker headed home to give Rafa Benitez’s team a firth consecutive league win and complete a good week for the club.

Mascherano’s equaliser was a stunning strike from almost 25 yards and thoroughly deserved for his recent performances.

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BBC Sport Report

Liverpool notched a fifth successive Premier League victory after coming from behind to beat Reading at Anfield.

Marek Matejovsky rounded off a training-ground free-kick from 20 yards to give Reading an early lead. Liverpool equalised in equally spectacular fashion when Javier Mascherano rifled his first goal for the club from 23 yards. Fernando Torres completed the turn around by planting home an unmarked header from eight yards.

Liverpool, seeking a fifth successive Premier League win, were sloppy right from the kick-off when Fabio Aurelio was caught in possession by Kevin Doyle whose cross was cut out by Martin Skrtel.

The home side were certainly caught napping on five minutes when Reading took the lead through a stunning goal from Matejovsky.

Stephen Hunt was fouled by Alvaro Arbeloa near the left-hand corner flag, but a training-ground routine saw the ball pulled back to the edge of the box where Czech international Matejovsky blasted home a first-time shot from 20 yards for his first goal since joining the Royals.

Liverpool regained their senses from the early shock and Steven Gerrard‘s slide-rule pass inside Andre Bikey found Torres, who was thwarted by alert goalkeeping by Marcus Hahnemann who dashed from his line and spread himself to save.

More sloppy Liverpool defending might have allowed Reading to double their lead, but Shane Long’s pass to the unmarked John Oster was just too heavy.

Liverpool swept down the field to level almost immediately through another stunning goal from Mascherano.

The Argentine stepped inside Hunt and shifted the ball on to his right foot to unleash an unstoppable shot for his first goal for Liverpool.

Mascherano was growing in influence and his inch-perfect cross-field pass picked out Ryan Babbel who cut inside to fire in a powerful shot which was beaten away by Hahnemann.

Liverpool finished the half strongly and Oster’s error gifted the ball to Xabi Alonso who dipped a volley inches over the bar from 25 yards.

It took Liverpool just three minutes of the second half to turn the game on its head and take the lead, with Torres scoring his ninth goal in six games.

The Spanish striker was fouled 30 yards from goal by Liam Rosenior and as Gerrard curled in the free-kick, Torres lost his marker to plant an unopposed header past Hahnemann from eight yards.

In the process he became the first Liverpool player to score 20 goals in a season since Robbie Fowler in 1996.

Reading’s afternoon took an even more sour note when Long’s reaction on being substituted was to rip off his shirt and throw it in the direction of boss Steve Coppell.

Liverpool were firmly in control and were searching for the comfort of a third goal.

It might have arrived had Babbel’s first touch been better when found by Gerrard, while Hahnemann beat away a powerful drive from Aurelio and enjoyed a stroke of luck as Dirk Kuyt headed the loose ball wide of a gaping goal.

But there was still some defending to do to protect the lead and Reading’s appeal for a penalty were half-hearted at best as Jamie Carragher strongly stood his ground as Doyle threatened.

In a frantic finale, Dave Kitson saw his header saved by Jose Reina as Reading keeper Hahnemann added his weight at a corner and as the ball was cleared to Alonso, his effort on an unguarded goal from deep inside the Liverpool half sailed just wide.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 14 Alonso, 20 Mascherano, 18 Kuyt (11 Benayoun, 80), 8 Gerrard (4 Hyypia, 90), 19 Babel (6 Riise, 83), 9 Torres
Unused subs: 30 Itandje, 15 Crouch
Booked: None
Goals: Mascherano 19, Torres 48

Reading: 1 Hahnemann, 19 Rosenior, 22 Bikey, 16 Ingimarsson, 3 Shorey, 11 Oster (30 Kebe, 72), 15 Harper, 28 Matejovsky (4 Cisse, 74), 10 Hunt, 9 Doyle, 24 Long (12 Kitson, 63)
Unused subs: 32 Federici, 5 Sonko
Bookings: Long 59, Ingimarsson 65,Matejovsky 74, Bikey 79, Cisse 87
Goals: Matejovsky 5

BBC Stats: (Liverpool – Reading)
Possession: 63% – 37%
Shots on target: 8 – 3
Shots off target: 11 – 4
Corners: 7 – 2
Fouls: 7 – 22

Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 43524