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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
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

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York