Daniel Sturridge fires first top-flight hat-trick

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LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers showered praise on Daniel Sturridge after watching the striker gun down Fulham with his first Premier League hat-trick.

Liverpool stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches thanks to three strikes from the 23-year-old in yesterday’s 3-1 win at Craven Cottage.

Given his recent employment with Fulham’s rivals Chelsea, the Cottagers fans aimed abuse at the England striker throughout the match but he responded in style, first equalising Dimitar Berbatov’s opener with a brilliant finish from Andre Wisdom’s long pass.

He then put Liverpool 2-1 up with an opportunistic finish before rounding off the win with a clever chip over Mark Schwarzer after he latched on to Philippe Coutinho’s pass.

The striker has now scored 11 goals in the 15 games he has played since moving to Anfield in January, much to his manager’s delight.

“Daniel was outstanding. He scored three goals and he could have had maybe six,” Rodgers said.

Liverpool only really sparked in to life in the second period after a drab opening 45 minutes which ended with the scores at 1-1.

Rodgers shuffled his team around after the restart, shifting from an experimental 3-5-2 to his usual 4-4-2 system.

The change allowed the excellent Coutinho more licence to venture forward and pick out in-form Sturridge, whose pace and power troubled Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes all afternoon.