Liverpool's SAS overpowered West Brom at Anfield as Luis Suarez scored a scintillating hat-trick before Daniel Sturridge literally chipped in with a fourth in a one-sided victory.
Only a dubious penalty award in the visitors' favour, scored by James Morrison, could take the shine off Liverpool's day, with even owner John W Henry having his say on Twitter:
Luis. Magician John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) October 26, 2013
It was sleight of hand which helped Suarez to his first goal, as he cheekily nutmegged Jonas Olsson before slotting low into the corner of the net. His second was a long-range header, and his hat-trick was completed 10 minutes after half-time. All this against a side with the third-best defensive away record in the league having conceded just two.
Morrison's penalty gave West Brom brief hope, but that was snuffed out by a brilliant 25-yard chip by Sturridge wrapped up the three points. It also means Sturridge and Suarez have scored 14 of Liverpool's 17 league goals this season. Suarez has now scored 36 goals in his last 46 matches and 57 in 101 Liverpool appearances overall.
That is exactly why Henry was so unequivocal in his hard-line stance over the summer when he refused to countenance a sale even after a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal and complaints from the player about the club reneging on a deal to allow him to join a Champions League club.
Initially it appeared the day may have been one of controversy for Suarez as his ninth-minute fall in the area after tussling with Billy Jones resulted in West Brom captain Jonas Olsson remonstrating with the Uruguayan. It is unlikely that provided any additional motivation for Suarez but within minutes the Baggies' Swedish centre-back found himself a mere bystander as he was left trailing in the wake of the striker's brilliance.
Suarez picked up the ball in the inside-right channel and skipped past Claudio Yacob before nutmegging Olsson so perfectly the defender was still turning round as the forward Suarez beat Boaz Myhill with an angled shot.
If that goal was a product of the South American's nifty footwork his second was more instinctive. Having laid off the ball to Aly Cissokho he continued his run to meet the on-loan Valencia defender's first-time cross with a bullet header from at least 16 yards out. As he raced away to celebrate even Suarez, not renowned for his aerial prowess, looked slightly surprised that he had scored with his head from that distance.
Liverpool should have had the result wrapped up from a well-worked Suarez free-kick to Gerrard in the inside-right channel but when the captain cut the ball back from the byline Martin Skrtel completely fluffed his shot from close range.
Yacob, not having the best of games in midfield, then fouled Sturridge - for once being completely overshadowed by his strike partner - but Suarez's free-kick went just wide.
Jordan Henderson, whose movement and powerful running in behind strikers made a mockery of Sir Alex Ferguson's bizarre criticism of his gait, almost made it three when he curled a shot over after Lucas Leiva, Suarez and Gerrard had combined on the edge of a congested penalty area.
West Brom's first real chance came in added time before the interval when Youssouf Mulumbu's ball over the top picked out former Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka who knocked past the advancing Simon Mignolet only for Skrtel to hack into the Kop before the ball crossed the line.
That would have given the visitors hope and what they needed to do was come out all guns blazing for the second half. They failed on that count and soon found themselves out of the game.
Sturridge bent a free-kick just off target and Suarez had a shot deflected behind before the Uruguayan completed his hat-trick. Gerrard swung in a free-kick from the left and the striker jumped to flick a header that diverted the ball into the far corner.
Sturridge, who must have already resigned himself to playing second-fiddle, crashed a shot against the bar but the damage had already been done.
Even a spot-kick with 25 minutes to go, converted by Morrison after Cissokho had been adjudged by the assistant referee to have fouled Jones, could not alter the outcome as Sturridge's inch-perfect chip restored the three-goal cushion.
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