- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Fernando Torres scored twice Saturday, helping Liverpool rout Blackburn 4-0 and keep pressure on defending champion Manchester United.

A minute’s silence was held before the game, marking the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

Late goals from Daniel Agger and David Ngog completed a fifth straight Premier League win for Liverpool, which lost to Chelsea 3-1 Wednesday in the Champions League quarterfinals.

Liverpool moved into first place by two points, but United has two games in hand and was playing at Sunderland later Saturday.

“Clearly they are under pressure. Alex Ferguson is always talking, which shows they are under pressure,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said, referring to his United counterpart. “I know he’s nervous, so it’s good.”

Torres took just five minutes to breach Blackburn’s five-man defense. Jamie Carragher sent a lofted pass from the halfway line. Torres hooked a superb volley into the far corner past goalkeeper Paul Robinson. In the 33rd, Torres ran unchecked from the far corner of the penalty area and beat Blackburn’s Chris Samba in the air to head home a goal.

“It was a great result coming after the game against Chelsea,” Torres said. “The last game wasn’t good but we’ve done our job today.”

United was at Sunderland, which is trying to avoid relegation.

___

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) _ Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink put Celtic ahead in the first 30 seconds, but Hearts tied the score before halftime to hold the Scottish leaders to a 1-1 draw.

The Dutch striker volleyed home his third goal in eight days after Aiden McGeady’s cross had been half-cleared and Andreas Hinkel returned the ball into the Hearts penalty area. Hearts goalkeeper Janos Balogh got both hands to Vennegoor of Hesselink’s strike but could not keep it out.

Bruno Aguiar evened the game in the 32nd minute, curling a free kick over the wall and into the corner of Artur Boruc’s net.

The draw gave Rangers a chance to cut Celtic’s lead to a point at the top of the league with a victory over Motherwell later Saturday.

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