Liverpool 6 Derby County 0: Torres and Alonso lead Rams to the slaughter

Liverpool in irresistible form as they make their best start in a decade

Top of the Premier League and just ahead of Everton too. In football terms at least, the happy times are back on Merseyside. Even taking into accountthe poverty of Derby County, Liverpool were in glorious, free-wheeling, free-scoring form and from their joyous reaction, the Kop clearly senses that this might just, at last, be their season.

Unbeaten in the League and Europe, Liverpool ran away with this one once Derby's strategy to stifle the midfield was picked apart. Even with Steven Gerrard absent injured Liverpool ran the show with ease, Dirk Kuyt dropping deep to adopt the Gerrard-feeding role for the jet-heeled Fernando Torres.

After the four goals against Toulouse it had been, the manager, Rafael Benitez smiled, "not a bad week". Even the absence of Gerrard and the impending departure of Benitez's long-time assistant, Paco Ayesteran, could not impinge on a day like this.

As for England's declared intention to call on Gerrard for Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel, Benitez observed: "The England team doctor will be in contact [with Gerrard] and then they will decide whether or not he should play. We don't want to take any risk with him, and they must not take any risk."

Risk is the word more readily associated with Derby at the moment, a serious risk of prompt return to the Championship from whence they so recently came. To the raucous delight of their large following, Derby stayed afloat for 25 minutes until they were undone by the switchof wings between Jermaine Pennant and Ryan Babel.

Pennant on the left was far too much for the lumbering Tyrone Mears to handle, and two fouls in quick succession provoked a lecture from the referee, Alan Wiley. Worse for Derby, it led to the opening goal from the second free-kick, a 35-yarder from Xabi Alonso which sailed directly into the net, the Derby goalkeeper, Stephen Bywater, probably being distracted by Kuyt's late, narrow failure to make a connection with his head. A fusillade of Liverpool shots, mainly from distance, kept Bywater twitching but he was beaten in the very last seconds of the half by a beautifully constructed goal.

Daniel Agger began it with a fine pass inside Mears for Alvaro Arbeloa to run on to. He pulled back to Babel, who sent the inrushing Claude Davis and Andy Griffin the wrong way in unison with a shrug of the hips before taking a couple of strides and hammering home.

Derby appeared still in shock from that one, nearly conceding again in the opening minute of the second half and being saved only by Alonso scooping over from close in.

That the miss would not be vital was rapidly evident, since Derby were not learning from their misfortunes. Robert Malcolm was punished for dwelling overlong on the ball, losing possession to a sliding tackle from Javier Mascherano, who sent Torres through to knock in a left-footed cross-shot. The wretched Malcolm was replaced immediately. Off came Pennant on the hour to a standing ovation, to be replaced by Yossi Benayoun. Within a few minutes the Israeli was at the heart of the fourth goal.

Though his shot was blocked by a fine Andy Todd interception it was typical of Derby'sluck these days that the ball rebounded straight to Alonso, who shot low through a crowd in the penalty area. Cue anothersubstitution and another goal. On came Andriy Voronin for Babel, and in four minutes he was celebrating. Torres did excellently to regain possession out on the left and fed Kuyt for a shot which Bywater beat out, but only for the eager Voronin to bundle the ball back past him.

Now Derby were in complete disintegration, and straight from the restart Torres was allowed to canter through almost at leisure to diddle Bywater's attempt at a block and side-foot his second goal of an excellent day for him. Still the Derby fans somehow stayed buoyant. "Bring on United," they chorused. Actually, it's Arsenal in the next away game.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower