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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 16:58 GMT
Liverpool six-hitters stun Ipswich
Heskey turns away after scoring Liverpool's second
Heskey turns away after scoring Liverpool's second
Ipswich Town 0-6 Liverpool
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Liverpool's title challenge gathered ominous momentum as they hit the Premiership summit with a magnificent six-goal victory at Ipswich Town.

Ipswich entered the Portman Road showdown on the back of seven Premiership wins out of eight - but Liverpool followed up the crushing 4-0 win at Leeds United with another imperious display.

  Six of the best
16 mins: Xavier scores on his debut
43 mins: Heskey's first
52 mins: Hyypia heads No.3
62 mins: Owen gets in on the act
71 mins: Owen's second
90 mins: Heskey completes the scoring
New boy Abel Xavier, a shock 800,000 signing from Merseyside neighbours Everton, set the ball rolling with a debut goal after 15 minutes.

And it was the signal for Liverpool to deliver a display of true championship class, as they fired a warning to rivals Manchester United and Arsenal that they are now a genuine title threat.

Emile Heskey added a second on the stroke of half-time, and further goals from Sami Hyypia and a double from Michael Owen left Ipswich completely outclassedl.

Heskey scored a sixth with almost the final kick of the match to put the seal on a brilliant Liverpool victory and make it five goals in three games for the England striker.

Liverpool have put a barren run firmly behind them to record four successive Premiership victories, including a win at Old Trafford, to re-ignite their Premiership campaign.

Xavier scores Liverpool's opener at Ipswich
Portuguese international defender Xavier never hit the target for Everton in more than two years at Goodison Park - but was swiftly off the mark at his new club.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's creator-in-chief throughout, set up Xavier ten yards out, and he scored via a vital deflection off Chris Makin.

Ipswich's only moment of threat came when Sixto Peralta's shot was excellently saved by Jerzy Dudek, but Liverpool exuded calm command and even allowed themselves the luxury of substituting their goalkeeper once the lead was unassailable.

The players gave a great display, and their work-rate was the most vital part - you can see the confidence flooding through the team
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
Heskey effectively ended the contest three minutes before the interval when he raced on to Gerrard's pass and easily beat Andy Marshall.

And Ipswich's hopes of a second half recovery were wrecked within five minutes of the re-start when Liverpool captain Hyypia powerfully headed Danny Murphy's corner past Marshall.

Liverpool decided to rest Dudek, who had been suffering with a groin injury, to give Pegguy Arphexad a rare run-out, but he was a spectator as his team-mates ran riot.

We were fortunate to get away with 6-0 as they created so many chances - we were over-awed in the second-half
Ipswich Town manager George Burley
Owen, inevitably, got in on the act after 61 minutes when a swift exchange between John Arne Riise and Gerrard set up the England striker for an easy finish.

And he added the fifth with almost embarrassing comfort with 20 minutes left, leaving John McGreal languishing before firing a right-foot finish past Marshall.

Ipswich were powerless to halt Liverpool, and it was no surprise when Heskey completed the romp with the sixth from the edge of the box in injury time.

Ipswich: Marshall, Makin, McGreal, Hreidarsson, Venus, Holland, Clapham, Wright (Stewart 38), Peralta, Armstrong (Magilton 71), Marcus Bent.
Subs Not Used: Salmon, Counago, Reuser.

Liverpool: Dudek (Arphexad 55), Wright, Henchoz, Hyypia, Xavier, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard (McAllister 81), Riise (Anelka 73), Heskey, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Smicer, Litmanen.

Att: 25,608

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

BBC Sport's Ian Brown
"Ipswich couldn't live with these rampant Reds"
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
"Everyone's done their part today"
Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia
"We showed everybody that we're not a boring team"
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