LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) Steven Gerrard made up for his midweek England disappointment with a virtuoso performance to inspire Liverpool to a 3-0 Premier League thrashing of Newcastle United at St James' Park today.
The Liverpool skipper was booed by sections of the home crowd in a backlash against England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 but he responded with a thunderous opening goal and a big hand in the other two.
By the end Newcastle fans' anger had turned on their own team and in particular manager Sam Allardyce, with ironic chants of ''Big Sam for England'' ringing round the stadium.
Gerrard gave Liverpool a well deserved lead after 28 minutes, belting an unstoppable shot after a free kick was touched to him by Brazilian midfielder Lucas, past Shay Given from around 30 metres.
Spaniard Fernando Torres, who missed at least four good chances throughout the match, was denied for Liverpool on the stroke of halftime when he hit a post with the goal gaping after Given had charged out of his goal.
Liverpool stretched their lead straight after the interval when Dirk Kuyt bundled in a Gerrard corner and Gerrard was involved again when he squared for Ryan Babel to slot home the third goal after 66 minutes.
Unbeaten Liverpool moved up to third with 27 points, although both Manchester City and Chelsea can go back above them later today.
Leaders Arsenal (30 points) are at home to Wigan Athletic, while second-placed Manchester United travel to Bolton Wanderers.
REUTERS PDS RAI2121