Liverpool went back up to second in the Premier League with a comprehensive and convincing 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on Saturday.
There were early penalty shouts at either end when Luis Suarez and Victor Anichebe claimed contact in the area, but the first real moment of quality led to the opening goal.
Suarez picked up the ball deep in West Brom's half, turned well to leave two defenders behind him, nutmegged a third and drilled the ball low beyond Boaz Myhill to give Liverpool the lead.
It only took five minutes for him to find the net again, this time with an outrageous headed attempt from the edge of the box. It flashed past Myhill and into the top corner for a 2-0 lead after Aly Cissokho's cross from the left.
Liverpool played some of their best football of the season during the first half and could have scored more, if not for a series of timely interceptions from Jonas Olsson and Jordan Henderson, who curled an effort just over the bar.
West Brom's best chance came in injury time at the end of the half, as Nicolas Anelka saw his shot cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel, who had earlier missed a clear chance on goal from six yards as he miskicked the ball backwards.
The second half started with even more one-way traffic, and Suarez glanced in a Steven Gerrard free kick for his hat-trick goal less than 10 minutes in before Daniel Sturridge thundered a shot against the crossbar from 20 yards as the Reds looked to close out the game.
The next goal, though, came for West Brom after they were bemusingly awarded a penalty for what looked like a perfectly good tackle from Lucas Leiva.
Nonetheless, James Morrison buried it to breathe new life back into the Baggies.
It was short-lived life, though, as Sturridge produced the finish of the game to chip Myhill from 20 yards, putting the ball right into the top corner.
There were further chances in the closing stages at either end, but the last word went to Suarez, who received a rousing standing ovation as he left the field near the end of the game.
"Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are very hard to contain," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told PremierLeague.com. "Both of them have different qualities and both are goalscorers.
Rodgers added: "I thought our midfield three today were excellent. We're just looking to keep improving, not getting carried away, and the boys at the top end did their job and got the goals. It should be a brilliant game (against Arsenal) next week."
Key Player Grades
Luis Suarez: A
Being typically aggressive and buzzing in the first half with a fantastic solo goal is a reminder of just why Liverpool were so keen on keeping him at the club during the summer.
His header was just ridiculous, beating the keeper on the run from 18 yards. His first Anfield hat-trick duly arrived after the break.
He was a constant thorn in the Baggies defence with his extraordinary work rate and capacity to cause danger for all over the pitch, and he could have had five goals on the day.
Boaz Myhill: B
Despite being beaten four times on the day, Myhill made a string of good saves to prevent the score from being even higher and couldn't do much about any of the finishes which beat him.
Having said that, he also had his woodwork to thank for stopping both of Liverpool's forwards.
The first half was his best 45 minutes of the season, as he chased down Baggies midfielders, kept his passing neat and covered Skrtel and Co. in the middle of the defence superbly on two occasions.
He and the rest of the Liverpool midfield continued to boss the match throughout the second half, and the penalty call against him was vaguely ridiculous.
It was his best performance of the season.
|Liverpool Player Grades|
|West Bromwich Albion Player Grades|
The Reds will wait for Chelsea's result on Sunday to see if they stay second, but they now have a temporary four-point lead on the teams outside the top four.
Next they face league leaders Arsenal.
West Brom remain safely in mid-table with Crystal Palace at home next out.