Liverpool ended a winless run of five games in impressive fashion on Sunday, with Luis Suarez starring as they whipped an under-strength Swansea City 5-0 in their Premier League clash.
The victory saw Liverpool leapfrog Swansea into seventh and give former Swans manager Brendan Rodgers something to smile about at the end of a week that saw defeats by West Bromwich Albion and then Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League.
A penalty from Steven Gerrard got them on their way and three goals early in the second half from impressive debutant Philippe Coutinho, Jose Enrique and man of the match Suarez wrapped up the points against a side seemingly distracted by the League Cup final with Bradford City the following Sunday.
Daniel Sturridge, who like Coutinho missed the Europa League match, added a fifth from the penalty spot.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was made to regret sending out a starting lineup shorn of several first-choice players, including leading scorer Michu, preferring to give the 15-goal Spaniard time on the bench.
Rodgers was delighted with the reaction of his players to the poor results of the previous week.
“It was a brilliant performance and the players’ attitude was tremendous. It was important to get a clean sheet today,” the Northern Irishman said. “It’s always been the case at Swansea that you can change players and still be strong.”
Laudrup apologized to the fans who had made the trip and said the players on the pitch should have performed better.
“I wanted to leave a few out, but that’s not an excuse, we could have lost 10-0,” Laudrup said. “We are all to blame, starting with me and the players. You can’t play like that. It wasn’t what we wanted in the buildup to the final, but now we have to get back on the horse.”
Liverpool, who in three previous Premier League meetings with Swansea had failed to score, made all the running from the kickoff, with Suarez looking particularly sharp.
However, he should have done better after Sturridge had done all the work in beating two defenders and then goalkeeper Michel Vorm, before going to ground, but with the goal at his mercy the Uruguayan put the ball wide.
Liverpool’s appeals for a penalty for a foul on Sturridge fell on deaf ears.
However, the hosts did get a penalty in the 34th minute when Suarez was needlessly fouled by Kemy Agustien and Gerrard, who had missed a penalty in the defeat by West Brom on Monday last week, made no mistake from the spot.
The hosts doubled their lead almost immediately from the second-half kickoff when Coutinho, taking advantage of the Swansea defense not going in for the tackle, saw his shot go past Vorm and into the net.
The hosts added a glorious third in the 50th minute as Luis Enrique finished off a beautiful passing move involving Coutinho, Suarez and Sturridge.
The Swans had completely capitulated and Suarez added a fourth six minutes later with a brilliant individual effort, and soon after Rodgers decided Coutinho had done more than enough on his debut and took him off.
Sturridge was also a vibrant presence and Vorm had to be at his best to keep out a stinging effort, but he deservedly got on the scoresheet with a penalty in the 71st minute awarded for a needless handball by Wayne Routledge.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men for the final 10 minutes, not that it mattered much to the outcome, after Fabio Borini, who had just come on as a substitute, was taken off in agony with what looked like a dislocated shoulder.
“He will probably be out for the season. It looks like he has dislocated his shoulder. It’s a big blow for us,” Rodgers said.