Liverpool eased past Newcastle at Anfield to secure their third impressive win of the week – 10 goals in seven days – and prepare for the trip to Milan on Tuesday perfectly.
The new 4-2-3-1 formation again proved effective, with Gerrard and Torres now really forming a fantastic understanding, each laying on a goal for each other – Gerrard’s pass for Torres’ was one of the best through balls a forward could ever ask for.
BBC Sport Report
The Reds went ahead with a bizarre goal, Jose Enrique’s clearance hitting Jermaine Pennant and looping in.
Fernando Torres struck his 25th goal of the season by slotting home from a Gerrard pass, before he sent Gerrard through for the captain to wrap it up.
Newcastle‘s best effort saw Obafemi Martins hit the bar from 40 yards.
The defeat means Magpies boss Kevin Keegan is still waiting for his first win on his return as manager – after eight failed attempts.
Liverpool, like so many of Newcastle‘s recent opponents, ended up winning at a canter – but for 43 minutes it appeared as though Keegan’s team may have turned the corner.
Their two banks of four gave Liverpool little space to attack in and the home team – and their fans – were becoming frustrated as they struggled to create clear-cut chances.
Torres did force an early save from Steve Harper, but the angle was such that it would have taken a mistake from the keeper to concede.
After 20 minutes the home side produced a fabulous move, John Arne Riise picking out Pennant with a raking 70-yard pass and his cross finding Yossi Benayoun, who saw his first-time shot blocked eight yards out.
But just as Keegan would have been preparing his half-time team-talk, Newcastle went behind – in farcical circumstances.
Enrique got back well to cover Pennant’s run into the box, but his attempted clearance cannoned off the winger’s shin and looped agonisingly over Harper and into the net.
Two minutes later and it was game over as Gerrard tore at the Newcastle defence and sent Torres clean through, the Spaniard gliding effortlessly past Harper and slotting into an empty net.
Having been in the game for so long, Newcastle‘s task in the second half was to keep the score down – but within six minutes, they were 3-0 down.
The Magpies simply could not contain Gerrard and Torres, who played in his captain to impudently lift the ball over the advancing Harper for a third.
The pair were running riot and moments later Gerrard was denied a second by a stunning save from Harper from just inside the box.
With their Champions League last-16 second leg tie away at Inter Milan on Tuesday in mind, Rafael Benitez had the luxury of taking off both Gerrard and Torres.
Controlling a throw-in on his chest, the Nigerian turned smartly into space and slammed in an audacious volley from fully 40 yards that crashed against the crossbar.
But it was a single moment of genius that punctured yet another Newcastle defeat, keeping them only three points above the drop zone.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
“It was more or less the perfect day – we got the points and we could take players off ahead of the Champions League in Italy on Tuesday.
“The first goal was a bit lucky but the second was a fantastic piece of play and that one was the big difference.
“The understanding between Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard is good and they can kill off any team those two.”
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan:
“The opening goal was a freak one and that’s the sort of luck we need going for us at the moment.
“But the second goal killed us, it was bad to concede straight away and 2-0 down here at half-time, it’s difficult.
“Prior to that I was relatively pleased but we were blown to bits in the space of three crazy minutes. Were we unlucky to lose? No. They were better than us.”
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Riise, Alonso, Lucas, Pennant (Hyypia 78), Gerrard (Kuyt 66), Benayoun, Torres (Crouch 72).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Babel.
Goals: Pennant 43, Torres 45, Gerrard 51.
Newcastle: Harper, Beye, Faye, Taylor, Jose Enrique, Milner (Geremi 44), Butt, N’Zogbia, Duff (Martins 58), Owen, Smith.
Subs Not Used: Forster, Cacapa, Carroll.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)