Suarez treble downs Latics
Published 02/03/2013 | 19:36
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez steamed ahead in the race for the golden boot with a hat-trick as woeful Wigan were dispatched 4-0 at the DW Stadium.
Stewart Downing's free header to open the scoring in only the second minute set the tone but his effort, created by his clever movement and good delivery by January signing Philippe Coutinho was almost forgotten as Suarez again took centre-stage.
The Uruguay international followed in some illustrious footsteps by becoming the third Reds player to score 20 or more in a Premier League season after Robbie Fowler (25) and Fernando Torres (24).
With 10 matches to go it seems inconceivable he will not surpass those efforts as it looks like a straight race between him and Manchester United's Robin van Persie (19), whom he now leads by two in the battle to become the top-flight's leading scorer.
Had Wigan's leading scorer Arouna Kone shown a semblance of his opposite number's sharpness the hosts could have been ahead with their first attack but the Ivory Coast striker failed to properly test Jose Reina.
Downing made them pay as he lost his marker in the penalty area to head home a cross from the impressive Coutinho, who provided the assist for the 18th-minute second, from Gerrard's initial pass, with a perfectly-weighted ball into path of Suarez whose control was instant and finish clinical.
Suarez then doubled his tally with a mixture of brilliance and good fortune. Gary Caldwell clattered the Uruguayan whose free-kick clipped Shaun Maloney on the edge of the wall and beat Ali Al Habsi with the help of the post.
Had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper Jose Reina it may have been a less comfortable evening. The Spain international had already saved one-handed from Emmerson Boyce's volley in the 21st minute with the score at 2-0 when he superbly tipped over Franco Di Santo's header from Jean Beausejour's cross.
Reina also denied Beausejour's free-kick on the stroke of half-time before normal service was resumed just four minutes into the second half. Glen Johnson set off on a trademark surge forward before picking the opportune moment to slide in Suarez, who found a neat finish
Liverpool being in cruise control allowed the hosts to improve and Reina again showed his agility to deny Maloney's close-range header. Victory ensured Liverpool closed the gap on fourth place to nine but with Tottenham playing Arsenal on Sunday it could be back to 10 again very soon.