Liverpool display sterling qualities

Liverpool display sterling qualities
Raheem Sterling giving Liverpool the lead in the first half. He played a key role in victory, spearheading Brendan Rodgers' midfield diamond.

Tottenham 0

Liverpool 3

It was the day Brendan Rodgers drew level with two Liverpool legends and Steven Gerrard ensured his name belongs in the record books yet again, but this was as much about their future as the past. Victory at White Hart Lane was notable for Mario Balotelli's encouraging debut, Raheem Sterling's rich promise and Liverpool's continued domination of Tottenham.

They defeated Spurs by an aggregate score of 9-0 last season and if this wasn't quite a third thrashing, it was comprehensive nonetheless.

It was a fine way for Rodgers to join the ranks of the Anfield centurions and he emulated Bill Shankly and Rafael Benitez, who both also won 56 of their first 100 games in charge. While Gerrard scored a 43rd penalty in their colours, depriving Jan Molby of his place in history, the inspiration came from a younger generation.

Alberto Moreno, 22, and Sterling, 19, scored to show Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham remain a work in progress. Spurs had begun the Argentinian's reign with consecutive clean sheets. That seemed an indictment of West Ham and QPR, their previous opponents, as Liverpool ripped them to shreds on the counter-attack.

Rodgers switched to a midfield diamond, with Sterling a revelation at the tip, and parachuted Balotelli straight into the side. If, given his capacity to attract attention, an early goal appeared inevitable, he was granted an ideal chance.

Daniel Sturridge picked out his new strike partner with a cross. Balotelli connected forcefully with a header but directed it too close to Hugo Lloris. The Italian later miskicked wide of a gaping goal when Lloris was stranded, but his instinctive understanding with Sturridge bodes well. He showcased his huge potential.

Sturridge is often accused of selfishness but he excelled as a supplier for the opener. He picked out Jordan Henderson, who squared for Sterling to score his second of the season.

The youngster should have doubled his tally for the afternoon, embarking on a mazy solo run before prodding a tame shot at Spurs custodian Lloris.

By then, his side were three goals to the good. Eric Dier had scored in his first two league games for Tottenham.

He also played a part in a goal in the third, tugging back Joe Allen. Gerrard, still on spot-kick duties despite Balotelli's arrival, converted the resulting penalty.

Their third goal came from another newcomer. Left-back Moreno was excelling even before he dispossessed Andros Townsend, sprinted forward and angled a drive past Lloris.

Liverpool's sole concern was that, with Mamadou Sakho an unconvincing presence at the heart of their defence, Spurs were afforded opportunities.

Emmanuel Adebayor wasted the best. A minute after Sterling scored, his lob landed on the top of Simon Mignolet's net.

The goalkeeper excelled to parry his fellow Belgian Nacer Chadli's rasping half-volley and a clean sheet completed a wonderful day for Liverpool.

stsports@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Sept 1 in The Straits Times.

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