Liverpool U21s were in clinical mood to return to winning ways with a resounding 5-0 triumph over West Ham United on Friday night.Having suffered defeat at Southampton four days ago, Michael Beale's outfit summoned the perfect response to down the Hammers.
The Reds were almost out of sight by the conclusion of the first half, with strikes by Kevin Stewart, Ryan McLaughlin and Cameron Brannagan clocking up a handsome lead.
McLaughlin increased his personal tally with a fourth for the home side, which was followed up by a cool conversion from Sergi Canos to complete the rout.
When these two teams clashed earlier in the season, an incisive Liverpool performance at Upton Park had earned a comprehensive 4-0 win.
The opening stages of the return meeting here suggested that Beale's charges were keen to produce a similarly one-sided result.
In only the third minute of the contest, Brad Smith's throw-in from the left was allowed to drift untouched to Stewart waiting centrally at the edge of the box. An adept flick of the foot created space for a glorious curler swept from left to right and into the top corner.
The Hammers had barely begun to regroup before the Reds quickly doubled their advantage.
A sweet Harry Wilson flick around his marker presented Smith with a chance to loosen his legs and sprint into dangerous territory. The wide-man sought a teammate in the middle and Lewis Page's attempted clearance fell kindly for McLaughlin to pounce with a low finish for 2-0.
Canos and Wilson have caused no end of problems to a variety of opponents at Academy level this year and the pair's pace and direct running was a regular hazard for West Ham.
The latter was inches away from connecting with a pass from the former on the diagonal into the area in a prime example of the intelligence these young footballers possess.
Emmanuel Onariase stopped Canos from tapping home a precise tee-up, Brannagan knocked an opening wide on the stretch after a one-two with Wilson, and Smith fluffed an opportunity at the back post.
Liverpool had a third moments before the interval, however. Canos surged through the left channel and into the box then squared to Brannagan for the midfielder to whip into the net with aplomb.
Though it was a slower start to the second period, control remained firmly in the Reds' hands and the possibility of further goals was tangible.
McLaughlin threatened his second and the hosts' fourth by powering along the right flank and into shooting range, but the defender dragged off target.
But when Jordan Williams soon found his colleague in a carbon copy position, the Northern Irishman fixed his sights and calmly dispatched an effort into the net.
Williams was involved in Liverpool's fifth too, on 73 minutes. He distributed from the touchline to the influential Brannagan, who in turn moved it on to Canos. The Spanish forward spun his marker in sublime fashion and finished to make it 5-0.