A second half flurry led by Luis Suarez and Jose Enrique saw Liverpool secure a 3-0 Premier League victory over Wigan Athletic at Anfield.
A goalless first half was soon wiped from the memory by Suarez's opener from Raheem Sterling's cut-back moments after the interval.
A fantastic assist from Enrique helped Suarez grab a second shortly after before the wide man got on the scoresheet himself with his first-ever Liverpool goal to cap a decisive win for Brendan Rodgers's side.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, was left miserable on a trip to the club he could well have ended up managing after being interviewed for the job in the summer.
Painful memories of last season’s corresponding fixture were fresh in the memory of Liverpool fans: Gary Caldwell struck the winner in a 2-1 loss for Kenny Dalgish’s side back in March.
And the hosts, now under the supervision of former Swansea boss Rodgers, began the brightest though the early stages yielded only a high corner count and a half-shout for a penalty on 17 minutes.
Enrique’s run on the left-hand side of the box ended under pressure from Caldwell with both men hitting the deck and referee Kevin Friend motioning for play to continue after a perceived 50-50.
One Liverpool set piece on 22 minutes led to Glen Johnson having a rebound strike from the edge of the box deflected over the crossbar, while Suso forced a fine parry from Ali Al Habsi in the Athletic goal with a rasping distance drive moments later.
Suso would curiously be subject to a tactical withdrawal for Jordan Henderson on 37 minutes, shortly after Latics midfielder Ben Watson was forced off by a Sterling foul with David Jones the man on in his place.
And though the hosts were firmly on top in the extended closing stages of the half, Al Habsi’s pair of claims from Suarez and Enrique’s balls from the left were the peak of their attacking efforts.
The Liverpool duo would find more success in an 18-minute blitzkrieg period early in the second half though, as the hosts came out completely settled in with the Henderson-Suso tactical switch and raced ahead.
Wigan were guilty of giving away possession cheaply throughout the contest and three minutes after the restart it would prove costly as Sterling stampeded down the right with the freedom of the park, cutting the ball back for Suarez to finish into the roof of Al Habsi’s net.
Ten minutes later it would be two for the Uruguayan hitman, linked to Manchester City in midweek reports, after superlative work from Enrique.
The Spanish wide man came in from the left on an enchanting foray which left four opposing players in his wake before casually slipping a central ball straight to the feet of Suarez who gave the Reds some breathing space.
And the only man able to match the imperious striker’s match day performance would pick a fine contest to score his maiden goal in Liverpool colours on 65 minutes, tapping in after Sterling had forced another good stop from Al Habsi. The visiting players were furious with what should have been their decision on the throw-in which led to the third, but had nothing but a yellow card for Caldwell's dissent to show for their protests.
Chances for Wigan to pull anything back were few and far between, though Arouna Kone struck the woodwork while Henderson skied a great chance at the other end.
Enrique came close to adding another assist on two occasions in the dying embers, first utilising a deft touch to set Johnson free down the middle before firing wide, then almost teeing up the Suarez hat-trick with nine minutes remaining.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jose Enrique: A landmark goal and a wonderful assist capped an unplayable performance from the advanced left-sided player.
LIVERPOOL: Reina 7, Wisdom 7, Johnson 7, Agger, 7 Skrtel 6, Allen 6, Gerrard 7, Enrique 9, Suso 6, Sterling 8, Suarez 9. Subs: Henderson 7, Carragher n/a, Shelvey n/a
WIGAN: Al Habsi 7, Ramis 7, Caldwell 5, Figueroa 4, Boyce 5, Beausejour 5, Watson 5, McCarthy 6, Maloney 5, Di Santo 5, Kone 6. Subs: Jones 5, Gomez 6, Miyaichi 5.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Enrique
- Raheem Sterling
- Wigan Athletic