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?
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
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

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines