Benitez fielded a similar side to the one played against United. However, Lucas was dropped from the midfield with Gerrard sitting in and then Kuyt pushed forward to create a 4-4-2 with Torres.
This is exactly the kind of set up that needs to be enforced in more games, might i make it clear that it is obvious the effectiveness of both Lucas and Masch in midfield is excellent and still depending on the tactics and style of play from the opposition they should, and I'm sure will continue to be utilised. Most importantly though, Gerrard was in his natural position and the midfield had a more attacking feel as we began the clash with Sunderland.
It didn't take Liverpool and their number 9 long before they sent an early message to the confident looking North East side.
Fernando Torres, who is on great form at the moment had the whole of Anfield's mouths agape and fans elated after he finished what has got to be, easily, one of, if not, the best goal(s) i have seen this season.
After collecting the ball on the wing and making his way untroubled to the edge of the box, it is only now when two defenders close him down. After managing to take a glance upwards and still having the slightest of spaces left between the approaching defenders to get a cross in, most people assumed his only option and his train of thought was to pick out a loitering Ryan Babel.
This is Fernando Torres we are talking about though, since when did he ever opt for the easy option? With a superb finish from an acute angle Torres sent the ball into the top far right corner of goal. Craig Gordon simply had no chance. This was just another example of why Torres is a world class player.
S'alright going on about Rooney's world class headers innit? But when did you last see him craft something as spectacular as that? Premier League strikers - eat your heart out.
Liverpool 1 - 0 Sunderland
With all of this excitement occurring within just 3 minutes, it was hard to not expect a similar continuation throughout the first half.
Liverpool were looking a lot more confident when in possession of the ball and on several occasions that famous "pass and move" culture was enforced against Sunderland.
Sunderland, quite literally couldn't get near Liverpool. Were they playing cautiously for the trip to Anfield? Or were they just being undone by an ever improving Liverpool side? Either way, Steve Bruce must have been embarrassed.
Our second goal came from forward pushing Glen Johnson. A great game for the England international because his talent when attacking down the wing was free to shine. His defensive accolades were rarely called upon from an almost silent Sunderland attack, but even so, when he was needed at the back he was there.
When Glen managed to create himself enough space outside the box, i was encouraging him via shouting at the television to have a pop as it were, and that he did. Albeit his attempt did take a deflection from the thigh of a Sunderland player but you don't score goals without shooting and a great shot it was.
For the second half Steve Bruce had swapped Lee Cattermole for Paulo Da Silva, Liverpool made no changes and were looking to begin the second half in precisely the same fashion as the first. Goal difference could become of utmost importance as the race for fourth continues so nobody was planning on sitting back.
Almost at the hour mark it was the linking up of both goalscorers that created Liverpool's third of the day.
When Glen Johnson again found himself high up the pitch, he unselfishly put a ball through to Torres who was deeper in the box. Torres knew where everyone was, what speed they were travelling, what angle they were coming from and when they would arrive. After intelligently taking his time and remaining calm he avoided the approaching block from one of Sunderlands under pressure back four and then tee'd himself up to effortlessly dink the ball over the tackle and into the back of the net.
As the clock ticked down Sunderland popped up with their only real effort from the whole 90minutes, Bolo Zenden with a speculative shot from far out sprung Pepe Reina into action. Reina reacted perfectly with an excellent save, it is clear to see he never loses focus, even in added time when we are 3 nil up.
In all honesty, it could have been 4,5 even 6 for Liverpool but the three great goals and another clean sheet are more than satisfactory.
With Benfica up next it would be great to come away with a similar sort of result in the first leg of our continuing Europa League run.