Liverpool record a thoroughly deserved 3-0 victory at White Hart Lane as Tottenham Hotspur are once again brushed aside by a dynamic performance from the men in red.
Kop boss Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that lost to Manchester City on Monday night, chief amongst them a headline-grabbing debut for Mario Balotelli.
All eyes were on the maverick Italian and he should have opened the scoring in the third minute when a pinpoint cross from Daniel Sturridge picked out the £16m striker but his close range header went straight at Hugo Lloris.
Both sides attacked in a high-tempo opening period and it was no surprise to see an opening goal soon arrive.
It was the visitors who supplied it when an excellent move down Spurs’ right involving Sturridge and Jordan Henderson ended with Raheem Sterling tucking home at the far post.
The hosts could have levelled almost straight from the restart when Emmanuel Adebayor latched onto a through-ball but the Togolese forward’s lobbed effort landed on the roof of the net.
Another impressive move almost doubled Liverpool’s lead moments later when a twisting and turning Sturridge fired marginally wide from the edge of the area.
Another disappointing miss from close-range by Balotelli followed as the men in red started to threaten to run away with the contest inside the opening 20 minutes.
The Merseysiders were though indebted to some good positional play by Dejan Lovren as he dealt with a couple of dangerous situations in assured fashion.
But the more Spurs attacked the more space they left in behind and Liverpool continually looked capable of capitalising on it as the half wore on.
Danny Rose fired over on his weaker right foot before Sturridge and Balotelli both had opportunities at the other end, the latter scuffing badly wide with Lloris out of position.
A misunderstanding between Lovren and Mamadou Sakho on the stroke of half time gifted Nacer Chadli a great sight of goal but Simon Mignolet produced a fantastic save to keep his side in front.
There was still time for Balotelli to miss another decent opportunity as Liverpool went into the break fully deserving of the lead.
The second half started in dramatic fashion as youngster Eric Dier pulled back Joe Allen to gift Rodgers’ side a 47th minute penalty, which Steven Gerrard duly dispatched despite Lloris getting a firm hand to the ball.
It could have been a short-lived two-goal lead though had further sloppiness from Sakho been punished in a more clinical manner.
As it was, Liverpool soon made it 3-0 in spectacular fashion when the lively Alberto Moreno robbed substitute Andros Townsend before driving towards goal and unleashing an unstoppable left-footed effort into the far corner.
After losing 5-0 and 4-0 in encounters between the two teams last season, Tottenham must be sick of the sight of Liverpool.
The scoreline looked set to reach a similarly emphatic level this time around as Sturridge and Lovren had chances to increase the margin around the 70 minute mark.
A driving run by Emre Can, who had just replaced Allen, certainly should have led to number four as Sterling dribbled past a host of defenders before shooting tamely straight at Lloris with the goal at his mercy.
The diminutive winger had been a constant threat throughout the game and his pace was now matched on the other flank by Lazar Markovic, who had come on for a tiring Balotelli.
The Serbian arrival from Benfica was involved in a multi-player move inside the closing 10 minutes that ended with Sturridge curling over.
With the result no longer in doubt the final stages were largely played out at a reduced pace although Spurs did come to life right at the end and were unlucky not to get a spot kick of their own as Lovren and Adebayor tussled.
A very encouraging return to winning ways after the disappointment of defeat to City last week. The performance was full of endeavour, pace and incisiveness and should have featured more goals. A clean sheet was also incredibly pleasing and encouragingly Balotelli fitted almost seamlessly into the side. His addition allowed Rodgers to play two up top and with a heap of options on the bench, the Northern Irishman now has so many options and variations at his disposal. The international break will be a frustrating time for Liverpool fans as they hope the team can build on this result and go on a winning run reminiscent of those compiled last term.
Raheem Sterling – There were plenty of candidates today, including Lovren and Moreno, but it is Sterling who edges it for me. The 19-year-old was a danger every time he picked up the ball and his confidence should by sky-high right now. If he can continue to add goals to his game, Sterling will become an even more complete attacking player.
Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Gerrard (c), Allen (Can 61′), Henderson, Sterling (Enrique 86′), Balotelli (Markovic 61′), Sturridge.
Unused subs: Jones, Toure, Coutinho, Lambert.
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