Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has likened the club's record buy Fernando Torres to Reds' goalscoring legend Ian Rush.
Torres smashed a second-half hat-trick to send Reading crashing out of the Carling Cup at the Madejski Stadium last night./news/story?id=466998&cc=
The Spain striker had been left out of coach Rafael Benitez's starting line-up for the previous two Barclays Premier League matches against Portsmouth and Birmingham but returned with a vengeance in their 4-2 success over the Royals.
Torres has now scored six goals for the Reds since his £20million arrival from Atletico Madrid in the summer and his stunning performance against Reading had Gerrard drooling.
The Liverpool captain said: 'He reminds me a bit of Ian Rush. I know Ian Rush was a great striker, and I don't want to put much pressure on Fernando as far as goals are concerned.
'But Rushy got a lot of credit for working hard for team, tracking back and not giving defenders a minute on the ball, and he's similar in a lot ways.
'There's a lot of pressure on his shoulders, and as captain of the team I don't want to put any more on him.
'But if we keep on delivering good through-balls and give him good service, he has shown so far that he's a good finisher. I'm sure he'll hit his own personal targets.'
Gerrard was also full of praise for the way Torres coped with the heavy-handed treatment dished out to him by Reading centre-backs Andre Bikey and Michael Duberry.
Both players were booked for fouls on Torres as the Spaniard gave them the runaround in a sensational second half.
'Foreign strikers normally get a bit of stick about when they get kicked they go hiding,' added Gerrard.
'But he got murdered all night by their centre-halves and kept going back and going back, and worked so hard for the team.
'I thought he was awesome. He thoroughly deserved his goals, but the most impressive thing for me was his attitude
'A lot of strikers would get that treatment and go missing, but he kept going back.
'It's something he has shown from the first day he arrived here, and that's what surprised me the most.
'I knew he was a good striker and I knew he was quick, but what I didn't realise his work-rate and attitude, and his willpower and character are tremendous.
'Everybody knows that his goals are the main thing, and if he gets the right service then the goals are going to come without a doubt.
'But if he keeps working that hard for the team, we're going to get results even if he doesn't score.
'I was slightly disappointed in the referee (Martin Atkinson). I thought he could have been a little bit more protective of Fernando, I counted seven or eight bad challenges from behind and he should have had a penalty as well.
'It's a referee's responsibility to give a striker slightly more protection, but I suppose he'll get a lot more treatment like that because if defenders don't get close to him, then he'll destroy them.
'He didn't react to what was happening and kept coming back, and I'm sure if you ask the two Reading defenders they'll say that's the hardest workout they've had this season.
'Away from home he is going to be marked really tight. He'll receive knocks, kicks and bruises and he'll have to keep giving as good as he gets like he did on Tuesday night.'
Reading defender Michael Duberry was forced to admit it was the individual brilliance of Torres that proved the difference in their third round tie.
Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring Liverpool but Bobby Convey levelled before the break with an angled volley.
Torres restored Liverpool's just after the break and although John Halls levelled again for Reading, the irrepressible Torres struck twice in the last 20 minutes to complete his first English treble.
But Duberry was in doubt it was Torres who made the difference.
'Individual brilliance was the difference,' said Duberry.
'The manager wanted us to out-work them and I think we did that for a large percentage of the game, but when they had their chances they took them.
'It was a great battle for me to play against Torres and Peter Crouch. I thought we handled him (Torres) well but he took his half-chances and that's what Liverpool are paying for.
'In three weeks you'll read he scored a hat-trick, not that Duberry and Bikey kept him quiet for 70% of the game. He's done his job and as defenders we didn't do ours.
'He is fast and has an eye for goal. He's up there with the best and the more he copes with the physical side of the game, the better he'll get.'