Liverpool smash five past second-string Swansea
Premier League, Anfield - Liverpool 5 (Gerrard 34, Coutinho 46, Enrique 50, Suarez 56, Sturridge 71) Swansea 0
Swansea City were punished for fielding a substantially weakened side ahead of the Capital One Cup final when being massacred 5-0 by Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield.
Michael Laudrup made seven changes to his side but, while he protected key players from injury - with Michu remaining on the bench - Swansea were comprehensively taken apart in one of the most one-sided contests seen in the English top flight.
Liverpool registered no less than 35 shots at goal as they secured a first win over top-10 opposition this season, though they led only 1-0 at half-time after Steven Gerrard struck from the penalty spot following a foul by Kemy Agustien on Luis Suarez.
But three goals in 11 minutes following the restart put Liverpool in an unassailable position, with Philippe Coutinho claiming his first goal for the club, Jose Enrique finishing off a fantastic passing move and the irrepressible Suarez claiming a well-deserved goal of his own.
Daniel Sturridge rounded off the rout with a penalty of his own after 71 minutes as Liverpool overtook Swansea for seventh place, and Brendan Rodgers's former side must now attempt to put a harrowing afternoon behind them to focus on their first major cup final next Sunday.
With next weekend's Wembley meeting against Bradford in mind, Laudrup made seven changes for Swansea, the most notable of which saw Itay Shechter come into the attack for 18-goal Michu. Liverpool, meanwhile handed a full debut to January signing Coutinho as they went in search of a first win in six games in all competitions.
Swansea's weakened team were comprehensively battered in the first half as a Liverpool team desperate to make amends for back-to-back defeats to West Brom and Zenit St Petersburg gave the visitors no respite.
Stewart Downing led the early assault with three efforts that flew wide and then teed up Sturridge with a delicious cross from the right. Sturridge got ahead of his man to meet the ball from eight yards out but criminally headed over the bar as the chance passed him by.
The January signing from Chelsea was then involved in a contentious incident after 25 minutes as he received a pass from Suarez, tricked his way past two men in the box and was brought to ground clumsily by Kyle Bartley. It looked a certain penalty, but Howard Webb deemed there to be an advantage as the ball rolled to Coutinho, who was guilty of a big miss as he slotted it wide from close range.
However, the home side did have a spot-kick after 34 minutes. Suarez won the penalty when he was felled by a rash and unnecessary challenge from Agustien in the box and up stepped Gerrard to put his penalty just past the outstretched glove of Michel Vorm and inside the post.
Suarez was as influential as ever - the Uruguayan getting a couple of shots away and playing in Sturridge for another chance that was wasted when the striker failed to find Coutinho with a dinked pass - and, barring one effort from Roland Lamah that struck Glen Johnson, Liverpool had near total control of a first half that saw them register a remarkable total of 22 shots.
The deluge resumed after the break, with the very first shot of the second half bringing a goal. Suarez was central again, his neat pass from the left releasing Coutinho, who drove forward and unleashed a firm drive to beat a weak hand thrust in its path by Vorm and record a goal on his first start for the club. The two combined again soon after as Coutinho produced a lovely backheeled attempt from a outside-of-the-boot cross from Suarez.
Swansea looked on the brink of total collapse and within four minutes had conceded a third. It was a thing of beauty too. Suarez cushioned the ball into the path of Enrique, who then released Sturridge with a perfect backheel. The striker controlled the ball and waited for the Spaniard to continue his run before picking him out with a neat pass. Enrique pinged the ball past Vorm for the second Premier League goal of his career.
Six minutes later it was four as Suarez claimed the goal his exuberant all-round display merited. Downing played him in 25 yards from goal and the striker jinked away from both Monk and Bartley before burying a curling effort inside the post.
Then it was the turn of Sturridge to seek out a goal and after being denied by two fine saves from Vorm, he had his chance to get on the scoresheet when substitute Wayne Routledge was guilty of a stupid handball, knocking the ball away with his arm as Suarez tried to control with his chest in the box. Sturridge stepped up and swept home his fifth goal in seven games for the club.
A near-perfect afternoon was marred late on by what appeared to be a painful arm injury for substitute Fabio Borini, who had to be taken off, but Rodgers could still reflect on one of the most satisfying results in his Liverpool career.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) - Scored one himself and was involved in all four of Liverpool's other goals as the Uruguayan put in another devastating performance in a free role behind Sturridge.