Liverpool completely outclassed Manchester United in the North West Derby on their way to a simple 3-0 victory on Sunday, and Luis Suarez took centre stage for all the right reasons.
It wasn't a vintage performance by any means from the Uruguayan hitman, but with a crucial penalty won in the first half and a goal late in the second, Suarez played a vital role in Liverpool's win, which even prompted the NBA's LeBron James to chime in:
Much had been made about the knitted boots the striker would wear on the pitch, as reported by Not Match of the Day:
Luis Suárez wears Adidas' knitted boots for the first time today pic.twitter.com/sCjGsGItEr— Not Match of the Day (@NOT_MOTD) March 16, 2014
Suarez did seem to have difficulty finding his footing and had an uncharacteristic amount of slips when cutting inside, but that didn't stop him from tormenting Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic all afternoon.
And with 10 minutes left before half-time, Suarez displayed a beautiful bit of touch and went around Rafael, forcing the wing-back to handle the ball and giving the visitors a penalty, which was expertly converted by Steven Gerrard.
33 PENALTY for LIVERPOOL as Rafael reaches to knock down Suarez's attempted pass— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) March 16, 2014
A second Gerrard penalty right after the re-start gave the Reds a healthy lead before Suarez finished the tie with a very cool left-footed finish. The Uruguayan had come close to scoring just two minutes earlier, but a fantastic save from David de Gea forced the striker to wait just a bit longer for his goal.
Suarez was a constant menace to the United defence, and it came as little surprise it was the forward that won his team their first penalty.
As shared by AS, he could have claimed a second as well:
Penalty on Suárez there, but he doesn't go down and ref waves play on.— AS English (@English_AS) March 16, 2014
101 Great Goals was glad the striker remained upright:
Well done Suarez for staying on your feet— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) March 16, 2014
While his performance against the Red Devils certainly wasn't one of his finest, Suarez did put together an excellent game, and his constant movement in space kept the United defenders honest all afternoon.
Paul Tomkins agreed it was a fine performance:
Suarez not having a good game on the ball, but he never has a bad one off it. His movement is always a problem for defenders— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) March 16, 2014
And while Suarez ultimately could have been more clinical in his finishing and wasted possession on numerous occasions (per WhoScored.com, he only completed 67 percent of his passes), he still played a decisive role in a big derby win for his club.
With the win and Chelsea's loss at the hands of Aston Villa on Saturday, the gap between the two clubs is now only four points, and the Reds still have a game in hand.
For the Red Devils, a loss in the North West Derby only adds to what has already been a disappointing season, and as club superfan ManUnitedMyLife explains, there is little time to grieve as the all-important game against Olympiacos is but days away:
We need a big night on wednesday or things could get even worse for David Moyes.— Manchester United (@ManUnitedMyLife) March 16, 2014
Liverpool will play bottom-dwellers Cardiff next Saturday, while United host the Greek champions in midweek.