(CNN) -- Fernando Torres scored twice as Liverpool kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League after beating Sunderland 3-0 on Sunday to move up to fifth place in the English Premier League.
Spanish international Torres opened the scoring with a brilliant third minute strike, cutting inside his defender on the left before curling a magnificent shot into the top corner of keeper Craig Gordon's net.
And the home side doubled their lead 13 minutes before the interval when right-back Glen Johnson fired home from the edge of the area after Sunderland failed to clear Steven Gerrard's inswinging corner.
Liverpool missed a host of chances to add further goals in the second half, including when Torres struck a post from close range.
But the former Atletico Madrid forward netted his 18th goal from just 21 league games when making space in the penalty area to calmly slot home Johnson's pass inside.
The victory was Liverpool's eighth home league win in a row and lifted them to within four points of fourth-placed Tottenham, although they have played a game more than the London side.
Meanwhile, in the day's other Premier League fixture, a first-half David Dunn penalty gave Blackburn a 1-0 victory at near-neighbors Burnley, a result that sees the losers edge even closer to an immediate return to the second tier of English football.