Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson struck twice as Liverpool produced a superb performance to thrash Newcastle United 6-0 on Saturday.
Early goals from Daniel Agger and Henderson gave Liverpool the advantage at St. James’ Park and Sturridge made sure of the win with a pair of second-half strikes in front of England manager Roy Hodgson.
With Brazilian Philippe Coutinho sensational in midfield, the visitors refused to relent and Fabio Borini and Henderson also netted, as Newcastle ended with 10 men after Mathieu Debuchy was sent off for a second yellow card.
Sturridge started for Liverpool with Luis Suarez serving the first of his 10-match suspension for biting, while Ivorian midfielder Cheikh Tiote returned from a hamstring injury for the hosts.
Liverpool burst out of the blocks and took the lead after just three minutes thanks to Danish defender Agger, who made the most of a ball over from the top from Stewart Downing as Newcastle failed to clear a corner.
Agger was in acres of space and, with goalkeeper Rob Elliot stranded, he made the most of his free header to give the visitors the perfect start.
Sturridge, who was incorrectly flagged for offside, had an effort turned over by Elliot, before Coutinho – who was relishing in the freedom and space afforded to him in a more central role – created the second goal with a sublime pass.
Sturridge charged forward after laying off to Coutinho, and the Brazilian’s perfectly-weighted ball set him free and forced Elliot to come out of his area.
With the Newcastle goalkeeper committed, Sturridge composed himself and played Henderson in, allowing the midfielder to pass a simple left-foot finish into the back of the net after 17 minutes.
Brendan Rodgers’ side were in complete control and created regular space through their skill on the ball, while Newcastle were restricted to speculative attempts on goal from long range.
The natives were getting restless and it was not just the supporters, with Newcastle defender Mathieu Debuchy clashing with Sturridge in an incident that saw them both booked.
Sturridge had a long-range effort saved by Elliot and, although the hosts slowly worked themselves back into the match before the break, the best they had to show for it was a wasted header by James Perch.
The heated nature of the contest continued as Tiote and Johnson were also involved in an ugly exchange on the stroke of half-time, while replays appeared to show the former standing on Sturridge.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew introduced French attackers Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran in place of Jonas Gutierrez and James Perch at the break, and the hosts were livelier in the early stages of the second half as a result.
Gouffran headed straight at Reina but his side lacked the composure to create clear chances, and their unlikely hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by Liverpool’s third goal, which came in the 54th minute.
Coutinho was again the creator, robbing Ben Arfa of the ball on the left before storming forward and delivering a delightful assist to Sturridge, who buried his left-foot finish with aplomb.
Liverpool were celebrating again six minutes later when a great Steven Gerrard ball played in Henderson, and he returned the favour to Sturridge with an unselfish cutback, allowing the striker to tap in from close range.
The visitors added gloss to the scoreline when Borini, who had been on the pitch for a matter of minutes, grabbed his first Premier League goal for Liverpool by converting Downing’s neat assist before Henderson saw a free-kick from the left float in without being touched for the sixth.
And Debuchy was given his marching orders for a frustrated lunge on Coutinho, who missed out on a deserved goal due to the woodwork.
But this was a performance to remember from Coutinho as Newcastle’s heavy defeat saw them remain in relegation danger.