Steven Gerrard Proves Why He Is Liverpool's Captain Fantastic with Derby Treble

Thomas Atzenhoffer@socceratzCorrespondent IIMarch 14, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 13:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on March 13, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

There is something to be said about the kind of magic that can happen under the lights at Anfield.

Although it was not a European night as have been the primary call to arms on midweek evenings in the past, it was something even more important for the historical club struggling for consistency.

Liverpool went into Tuesday night's 217th Merseyside Derby with the fear of suffering a fourth consecutive loss in the English Premier League.

Their opponents, fierce local rivals Everton, were on a nine game unbeaten run in the league that had seen them earn victories over top ranked clubs Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham.

Everton Manager David Moyes was also on the eve of celebrating ten years in charge of the Toffees, while Kenny Dalglish must have felt as if he was under a mountain of pressure having suffered two straight losses after Liverpool had lifted the Carling Cup.

Earlier in the week Liverpool's talisman captain Steven Gerrard demanded that his teammates take action to end the club's run of poor form in the Liverpool Echo:

"The players need to take responsibility for where we are in the league."

"It's just not good enough for a club like us to be there. We have to find a better level of consistency."

"We need a reaction and there's no better team to produce that against than Everton. It's important the players put in a performance and get a result for the fans."

"Everyone is a bit down after recent results but we want to put a smile back on their faces.

"It's a big week and we want to go into that cup tie with Stoke on the back of a win."

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As game time drew near and the Reds' famous anthem of Roger and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" rang from the Kop to the Shankly Gate you could almost feel that just perhaps it was going to be a special night.

However, at that time no one knew that it was the man who issued the rallying cry himself who was going to be the one to answer the call.

The old English adage of "Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man," never has been more epitomized for the Reds than with Steven Gerrard's performance on the night.

Gerrard had one of the first opportunities on the night thanks to great play from Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez opening up a shot for the captain, but his effort was not enough to beat Everton's Tim Howard.

Andy Carroll also came close in the opening half hour, as the Reds looked to be more up to the task at hand.

Glen Johnson failed to test match fit and Martin Kelly was preferred on the right hand side of defense. The youngster made the most of another opportunity as his marauding runs were a thorn in the side of the Toffees all night long.

The youngster's efforts bore fruit at the 34th minute, as he stormed through to fire a shot on goal that was only cleared as far as Steven Gerrard—who pounced on the rebound with a well placed, left-footed one time shot that sent the Anfield faithful into a frenzy as the Reds went 1-0 up on their rivals.

Gerrard watched in horror as his club went down to Sunderland before he was brought on late in the match.
Gerrard watched in horror as his club went down to Sunderland before he was brought on late in the match.Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Everton had been starting to exert themselves on the match but the goal knocked them back down to size as the halftime whistle soon blew.

The Toffees came out with a purpose at the start of the second half, but once again Gerrard lit up the back of the net, thanks to an assist from Luis Suarez that saw the captain blast home a typical goal for himself in emphatic fashion.

Carroll and Suarez both missed close chances in the following minutes as Liverpool looked to have the game well in hand.

David Moyes tried to get Everton back in the game as he introduced a rare triple substitution at the hour mark sending on Royston Drenthe, Leon Osman and weekend match winner Nikica Jelavic.

The substitutions only served to make the game scrappier rather than flowing—the cards started to fly in the final twenty minutes.

But the night was not to end without Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez combining for another goal as the Reds' field marshal coaxed another assist out of his Uruguayan teammate with a give-and-go that saw him beat Howard in extra time to end the night with an emphatic hat trick.

It was a stunning display from Gerrard who knew all too well just how bad his club, team, fans and manager needed a victory.

Martin Kelly fired just wide of his second Liverpool goal
Martin Kelly fired just wide of his second Liverpool goalJamie McDonald/Getty Images

The skipper became the first player to score a hat trick in the Merseyside Derby since Ian Rush did it 30 years ago—when Kenny Dalglish was still in the Reds' first team.

Following the match on the Reds' official website and video channel Liverpoolfc.tv, Dalglish heaped the praise on his captain:

"I am not educated enough to add to whatever anyone else has said about Steven. He's been fantastic for this football club.

"I left school at 15; my vocabulary is not that great. There is no way I could extol the virtues of Steven Gerrard and do him justice.

"Three goals tonight was fantastic reward for him, and the other three local lads we had didn't do too badly either."

Dalglish was also sure to give his team their due as it was a great performance by the entire first team on the night:

"Every one of them put in a fantastic contribution. If you don't do that against Everton, you're not going to win 3-0.

"It was a fantastic performance. They had to compete really hard against an Everton team who has been going really well.

"The result reflected the performance and we're delighted that at last we've got a reward for a great performance - one of the many we've had here.

"It was a team performance. Obviously Steven will get the headlines, and rightly so. But he'd be the first one to say he wouldn't have been there for the three goals without the others.

"Both teams were a credit to the respective clubs with the way they conducted themselves, as were both sets of fans.

"The city of Liverpool wins every time these two clubs play each other. The city has got two clubs it can be proud of."

Steven Gerrard was also quick to be humble on the night, as he claimed that Luis Suarez was the man that made it all possible to Liverpoolfc.tv:

"To beat Everton is always special, so to get three goals is that little bit extra.

"But I have to give my teammates a special mention, especially Luis Suarez - he put two on a plate for me.

"It was a great team performance and a clean sheet - everything we wanted from the game, we got."

The Reds will now head into their FA Cup sixth round match with Stoke City on the high note that Gerrard was hopeful of.

Although Liverpool remain well off the pace to have any shot left at wrestling away the last Champions League place from Arsenal who are ten points ahead of them in the table, it is always an advantage to be the team that can play with nothing left to lose.

David Moyes was frustrated to no end with his charges falling short most of the night
David Moyes was frustrated to no end with his charges falling short most of the nightJamie McDonald/Getty Images

The Reds already are guaranteed at least UEFA Europa League action next season but with 10 games left and 30 more points available there is always the chance that it all finally comes together.

With the average fourth place points total over the past ten seasons being 69, the Reds could still end the year on 72 if they won out.

It is an unlikely possibility as there has been no consistency from the club's performances this season—but with Newcastle United and Chelsea as the only clubs in the top seven remaining on their schedule, it could be a wide open opportunity for the Reds to make the most of a potentially easier run in.

Seeing what can Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll can achieve when the three of them are actually all match fit to play on the same pitch should give fans hope that there is always something to be hopeful of.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out more on Bleacher Report and at the links below. You can follow me on Twitter @thedailyatz and Facebook, or visit my website.


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