Published: 15 Mar 2008
STEVE COPPELL launched a triple blast after Fernando Torres sealed Liverpool's comeback win.
Marek Matejovsky swerved Reading's superb opener but Javier Mascherano broke his Reds' duck in thrilling style and Torres nodded home on 48 minutes.
Royals boss Coppell was furious at:
* Poor marking for Torres' goal
* Referee Andre Marriner refusing to give a late penalty for handball by Steven Gerrard
* And Reading ace Shane Long storming off while hurling his shirt to the ground after being taken off.
Coppell explained: "I am very disappointed with the free header for Torres. If you allow him to do that six yards out, he will score. We just stood and watched.
"As for what we felt was a strong shout for a penalty late on, the ball hit Gerrard on the arm and it was bound for the net.
"Having seen a penalty given earlier in the week for Aston Villa this one was stitched on."
Coppell said of Long: "I have told him I never want to see something like that again. And I won't. I will deal with it my way, I won't be telling anyone.
"He was annoyed with the officials, just frustrated. He was playing against a centre-half who was six inches taller and every time they came together, it was a free-kick for Liverpool.
"I understand his frustration, and that is how he expressed it. But it was not the right thing to do."
Liverpool chief Rafa Benitez - delighted to notch a fifth straight Premier League win - said: "Reading were upset with the official and so were we. Maybe that says something.
"We had a player, Alvaro Arbeloa, who took at elbow in the face and had his eye cut. It was close to the line, and the fourth official. Everybody could see it, but not the referee.
"As for their penalty claim, Steven Gerrard has told me the ball hit him with his arm against his chest, it was not stuck out to deflect the ball.
"I always prefer not to comment on referees, but both sides were clearly disappointed with him."
Xabi Alonso went close amid the Reds' early fluency, with Ryan Babel and Torres both looking confident and dangerous.
But in just the fifth minute John Oster clipped a left-wing free-kick for the unmarked Matejovsky to smash his shot in off the bar.
Torres, supplied by Gerrard, was soon denied an equaliser by Marcus Hahnemann's well-judged dash from his goal.
Then Gerrard dipped a 25-yarder just high.
And, when Liverpool did level, Mascherano's goal was at least the equal of Matejovsky's strike.
The Argentinian picked up the ball 40 yards out and surged forward to lash it high into the top right-hand corner.
It was only the midfielder's second ever goal in a career embracing spells with Corinthians, River Plate and West Ham.
Mascherano promptly teed up Babel for a drive that Hahnemann beat away.
Next Babel had a diving header rightly ruled out for offside, before Dirk Kuyt hooked Arbeloa's cross high.
Reading, though, competed well, showing plenty of aggression and menace up front in a lively
Kevin Doyle's pace and Stephen Hunt's spiky influence helped the Royals stay a threat.
But Liverpool's lively start to the second period erupted when Torres nodded Gerrard's right-wing free-kick down and in.
That made Torres the first Reds' player to net 20 league goals since Robbie Fowler in 1996.
And, with Mascherano continuing the prominent form he showed at Inter Milan in midweek, Liverpool virtually dominated for a while.
Babel would surely have netted Gerrard's pass had his first touch been better.
Hahnemann had little rest, beating away Fabio Aurelio's drive and seeing Kuyt somehow head the loose ball wide.
The visitors, though, flickered dangerously near the end.
Jose Reina kept out Kitson's header when Hahnemann joined Reading's attack for a corner - Alonso firing the clearance wide of the Royals' unguarded goal at the other end from his own half.
And Reading's' impressive display suffered a final agonising twist, Gerrard surviving strong handball appeals when he charged down Kitson's injury-time shot.
But the Reds clung on to earn both their seventh victory in a row and a tighter grip on fourth place.
As for the lowly Royals, Coppell said: "We're still in the thick of the relegation fight, but very much in control of our own destiny."
16 March 2008
Liverpool 2 Reading 1