Luis Suarez scored his third hat-trick of his Liverpool career as he helped Brendan Rodgers’ side to a 4-0 win over a dismal Wigan Athletic.
Roberto Martinez’s men hit the self-destruct button in defence, conceding three goals in the opening half, but they also had a hatful of chances as Pepe Reina mustered a goalkeeping master class to maintain the Reds’ healthy lead.
January signing Philippe Coutinho also turned heads, with the Brazilian starlet showing his class with two assists in a performance that will please Rodgers and Liverpool fans alike following his £9million move to Anfield.
Stewart Downing opened the scoring after only two minutes with an unlikely headed goal, rising completely unmarked to nod home from six yards, finishing off some great wing play from Coutinho on the left.
Suarez then put the visitors 2-0 up inside the 20 minutes mark when Coutinho provided a perfectly weighted pass for the Uruguayan to stroke past the oncoming Ali Al-Habsi, while he netted the Reds’ third with a deflected free kick before the half-time whistle.
And Liverpool’s star-man completed his hat-trick just after the re-start with a neat finish through the legs of Al-Habsi after a barnstorming run from Glen Johnson.
Wigan were helpless in the first half but looked tighter after the break and troubled Reina in the Liverpool net, as the Spaniard was forced to make a series of fine saves from Emmerson Boyce and Franco Di Santo.
But the Merseysiders were clinical and simply too good for the top flight strugglers, who now have quite an undertaking to avoid Premier League relegation for the fifth successive season.
Suarez now tops the league top scorer’s list with 21 after his trio, while Liverpool rise up to seventh and take a huge step closer to securing European football for next term.