Yossi Benayoun fired a superb hat-trick to show his goalkeeper Pepe Reina that Liverpool are title contenders after all, in a comfortable 4-0 win over a poor Burnley team.

Reina had commented pre-match that Liverpool wouldn’t win the league this season, and Benayoun in particular seemed intent on proving him wrong, with three goals and a further finish disallowed incorrectly for offside.

The game followed a similar pattern to Burnley’s 3-0 defeat at Chelsea two weeks ago. The Clarets started brightly and again Martin Paterson had a good chance to put them ahead after ten minutes, but under pressure from Jamie Carragher, the striker couldn’t find the corner, slotting just wide.

And as the first half went on, the more Liverpool dominated, with Benayoun opening the scoring just before the half hour. Burnley stood off him, and the Israeli turned Graham Alexander brilliantly on the edge of the area before placing his shot across Brian Jensen in the Burnley goal.

That goal acted as a wake-up call for Burnley, who then ejoyed their brightest period of the match. Paterson had two good long-range efforts well saved by Reina, before he was cynically blocked off in the area. At Turf Moor, the penalty award may have come, but it was never likely to at Anfield, despite it being an worthwhile shout.

And from a Burnley corner, Liverpool broke and put the game away just before half-time. Benayoun found room 25 yards from goal and hit a vicious, swirling shot that Jensen couldn’t hold, and Dirk Kuyt was on hand to tap in the rebound. The Dane made amends for his error moments later though, diving full length to tip over Steven Gerrard’s piledriver.

And it was Gerrard who destroyed any lingering hopes of a fight-back with a surging run through the heart of Burnley’s back four, before squaring unselfishly despite close attention from Alexander, for the unmarked Benayoun to add his second of the game, and Liverpool’s third. The former West Ham man had a third goal wrongly ruled out for offside before completing his hat-trick, finishing well from 12 yards from Andriy Voronin’s good pass, after referee Lee Mason had inadvertently deflected a Burnley pass to a Liverpool player.

Burnley were a shadow of the side that completed a home double of wins over Manchester United and Everton, and they are still without a goal or a point in three away games in the Premier League. In contrast, Liverpool’s season is just getting going, and they will be hopeful that this easy victory sets them up to take enough points off the lesser teams in the division – their achilles heel last season – to be in the mix come May.

This report was written for FansOnline Burnley.

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