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Kuyt in heaven

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 09:24 PM PST

...and he thanks Liverpool's latest idol Suarez for dream hattrick

Monday, March 7th, 2011 13:08:00

Football

HIGH-FLYING KUYT: Best feeling ever

LIVERPOOL: Dutch attacker Dirk Kuyt struck a dream hattrick as Liverpool dented Manchester United's title ambitions with a crushing 3-1 victory at Anfield yesterday.

Kuyt opened the scoring in the big clash in the 34th minute — firing home from a metre out after great work from Uruguayan magician Luis Suarez.

His second arrived just five minutes later when the Dutchman capitalised on a poor defensive header from Nani.

And he completed his treble in the 65th minute — blasting gleefully into the net in front of the Kop from no more than two metres after Edwin van der Sar had failed to hold onto the superb Suarez's freekick.

Mexican Javier Hernandez scored consolation goal in stoppage time when he headed in Ryan Giggs' cross from 10 metres.

The win lifts Liverpool up to sixth in the table.

Liverpool's fully-deserved victory over United may not ultimately prevent their bitter rivals surpassing the Reds' 18 league titles at the end of the season.

However, it has dented the Red Devils' hopes of a straightforward run-in and at the same time restored some pride for Liverpool after two defeats at Old Trafford already this season.

And Kuyt's hattrick was Liverpool's first against United since Peter Beardsley's in September 1990.

"It's perfect. You always dream about the hattrick and then to make a hattrick against United is the best feeling ever," Kuyt told Sky Sports.

"Van der Sar said to me after the game, 'you don't score many goals against me and today the hattrick' so I'm more than happy with that.

"I have to thank Suarez because he played great today and created two of the three goals, so a perfect performance from him.

"They were quite easy goals, I used to score these types of goals when I used to play more like this as a striker in Holland but those goals count and I am more than happy to take them."

Liverpool made it wins against both Chelsea and United in the space of a month and Kuyt feels the team can use this momentum to carry them through the rest of the season.

"I think we showed belief that we can compete against the best. We showed that against Chelsea also but we know that we need to compete against the other sides," said Kuyt.

"Last week against West Ham (where Liverpool lost) was disappointing but hopefully we can go on a long run after today."

Manager Kenny Dalglish was naturally delighted with the win.

"Obviously for us it's a huge win and the lads deserve great credit for the way they played and went about their work, their discipline, application and the pride they showed in themselves and to the football club," he said.

"It's been a tough season. It's not finished yet but this has been the highest point so far for our supporters.

"We're not trying to say we've had injuries because everyone has injuries but when we start getting all our players back we've got quite a strong squad. Although when we have injuries like everybody else we get weakened, United had injuries today and we've just got to accept it and get on with it.

"The most important people are the people who are fit to play and today they were magnificent. In the first half we lost Fabio Aurelio and we had to change things so let's give them the credit they deserve because Fabio started really well."

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Long and winding road for Vettel

Posted: 06 Mar 2011 09:20 PM PST

Monday, March 7th, 2011 13:08:00

LONDON: Champions Sebastian Vettel (above) says he is in for a "long, hard and tough season" as he bids to retain his title.

Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team are already being tipped as favourites for this year's crown after putting in some impressive performances during pre-season testing.

However, the German played down the favourite tag, saying no one will know until Australia where they are in the pecking order.

"It's very difficult in the beginning to tell," he told crash.net.

"I don't have an advantage with having the number '1' on the car. Obviously it's a nice feeling, and it was a great success and a big relief for me last season.

"Hopefully, that has made me a bit stronger, but nevertheless, it will be a long, hard and tough season."

This season sees the introduction of several new regulations, such as moveable rear wings and the return of KERS, while Pirelli have replaced Bridgestone as Formula 1's sole tyres supplier.

And it's the latter that Vettel believes could have the biggest impact on the title race.

"We seem to have a good car, but it's still too early to tell so we have to wait and see," he said.

"There have been a lot of changes which have involved a lot of work over the winter trying to get the whole package ready to start the new season.

"Obviously it's very busy now with preparation work, and we're all doing our best to try to get the best possible package together. You can never have enough preparation to make the car ready.

"The tyres are very different to last season, but then again, it's the same for everybody.

"I think the racing will change and that one-stopping — maybe even two-stops — is impossible at this stage, so it will be at least three or four-stop races, which will make it interesting."

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