Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool avenged last season's Merseyside derby despair with an imperious 4-1 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.
With Everton having taken four points off the then-reigning Premier League champions last term, and inflicted a season-altering injury to talisman Virgil van Dijk on Liverpool's last trip across Stanley Park, the visitors used the 239th meeting with their rivals to ruthlessly exorcise some demons.
Captain Jordan Henderson curled Liverpool into the lead (9) before Salah put the visitors two up inside 19 minutes at a stunned Goodison, where a number of the home faithful sought an early exit.
Those who had left early missed Everton grab a lifeline before the break through Demarai Gray (38), but it failed to inspire a second-half Toffees comeback as Salah punished Seamus Coleman's error to double his tally (64), before Diogo Jota's stunning fourth (79) wrapped up a comfortable Liverpool victory.
The victory sees Jurgen Klopp's side keep pace with Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League, while Everton remain in 14th, without a win in eighth and with the pressure increasing even more on manager Rafa Benitez after their heaviest home defeat at the hands of Liverpool since 1982
Everton: Pickford (6), Coleman (5), Godfrey (6), Keane (6), Digne (5), Doucoure (6), Allan (5), Townsend (6), Gray (7), Richarlison (6), Rondon (6).
Subs: Delph (5), Gordon (6), Tosun (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Matip (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (6), Henderson (8), Thiago (6), Salah (8), Jota (7), Mane (6).
Subs: Milner (5), Oxlade-Chamberlain (n/a), Minamino (n/a).
Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah
- How the teams lined up | Match stats
- Premier League table | Fixtures
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Ruthless Reds inflict Merseyside misery on Toffees
Just three minutes were needed for the contrasting fortunes of the two Merseyside rivals to be underlined, as Liverpool created and then squandered two gilt-edged opportunities to make the dream derby start.
The returning Joel Matip steered a free header wide with barely 90 seconds on the clock before Salah got caught in two minds whether to attack Jota's cross with his head or his boot, and ended up hooking another glorious opening over. But the misses were soon a distant memory for Liverpool.
- Richarlison and Demarai Gray returned as Everton made two changes from the defeat at Brentford.
- Joel Matip replaced Ibrahima Konate in Liverpool’s only change from the victory over Southampton.
After Jordan Pickford had got down well to prevent Salah converting from Sadio Mane's cutback, the Toffees stopper was soon picking the ball out of his net, as captain Henderson meet Andy Robertson's cutback with an exquisite left-footed finish into the corner.
There was nothing Pickford could do, such was the quality of Henderson's strike, and though he did manage to tip Trent Alexander-Arnold's drive behind for a corner, Liverpool's relentless start soon yielded a second.
Having scored the opener, Henderson turned provider, playing a pass in behind the advanced Lucas Digne which Salah raced onto before opening up his body and finishing emphatically into the far corner.
With Liverpool two up inside the opening 20 minutes of a derby at Goodison for only the second time in Premier League history, some Evertonians had seen enough and headed for the exits. Those who kept the faith, however, were given renewed cause for optimism when Everton halved the deficit.
Against the run of play, Richarlison brought the ball under control and quickly released Gray into space between Matip and Alexander-Arnold, and the forward held his nerve to finish through the legs of Alisson Becker.
Mane and Abdoulaye Doucoure both saw efforts cleared from the goal mouth before the first half was up and the new-found competitiveness continued into the second period, where a crucial Ben Godfrey block denied Mane from restoring Liverpool's two-goal lead.
But Everton's defences were to be breached for a crucial third time. They were architects of their own downfall as, from an attacking corner, the ball was played back to Coleman, but his mis-control was pounced on up Salah, who raced away and slotted his second and Liverpool's third on 64 minutes.
Before Everton were put out of their misery, three became four 11 minutes from time when Jota turned Allan inside out with a brilliant drop of the shoulder before ramming a shot into the roof of the net to underscore Liverpool's dominance and their rivals' recent struggles.
Reds run riot at Goodison - Match stats
- Liverpool scored four goals in an away league match against Everton for the first time since a 5-0 win in November 1982 under Bob Paisley.
- Since the start of last season, no current Premier League side has lost more home games in the competition than Everton (12, level with Leicester City).
- Liverpool have scored at least twice in each of their last 18 games in all competitions, the new longest record in history by an English top-flight side.
- Liverpool have scored 25 goals after their seven away games this season, a new Premier League record, and the most by a top-flight side since Burnley back in 1961-62 (also 25).
What the managers said…
Everton head coach Rafa Benitez: "Everybody has to be disappointed because we have lost the derby," he said. "But we lost because we made mistakes against a top side.
"We have seen how much money Liverpool have spent and how much successful they have been in recent years. It can happen if you don't do things right, and we didn't do things right.
"We gave them the chance to score, against any other team maybe it would not be so bad, but against as top side with top-class players, you suffer and pay for that."
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was, for sure, the best performance we've showed since I've been a Liverpool at Goodison.
"We've had some good games here but not a good as tonight; never as clam as we were tonight, we were never as convincing as we were tonight. That is why we won the game, I'm really happy about that.
"I wanted us to be really mature, very aggressive in a football way, angry as well, but in a football way. You cannot win the ball back or counter-press without anger or a bit of greed, but there are also moments where you have to pass the ball around their formation. For that, you need a different mindset, and that is what we had tonight."
Man of the Match - Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah has scored 13 Premier League goals this season, nine of which have come away from home. This is more than double the number of any other player so far (Firmino, King - 4), whilst he's the first Liverpool player to register a goal or assist in seven consecutive away appearances in the competition.
Salah has been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances (13 goals, 7 assists), the third player to achieve that feat after Stan Collymore (12, March - August 1995) and Jamie Vardy (15, August - December 2015).
Everton now host Arsenal on Monday Night Football at 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League, while Liverpool are at Wolves at 3pm on Saturday.