And so the ghost of the beach ball goal is laid to rest - well partially at least. The defeat at the Stadium of Light earlier in the campaign will remain as one of the lowest ebbs of the season but Sunday's performance should go a long way towards banishing the memories of last October.

Liverpool ran riot over Sunderland with a first-half attacking display that Arsenal or Barcelona would have been proud of. It's important to emphasise that is not an exaggeration, Sunderland simply couldn’t cope with Liverpool’s constant waves of pressure in what was a siege towards the Kop end.

Even Black Cats manager Steve Bruce (who still has a big fat head apparently) admitted the home side were just too good for his team - who prior to the game were unbeaten in six. “Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say we couldn’t get near them,” said a complimentary Bruce.

It was 4-4-2 and the message was clear from Rafa Benitez; attack, attack, attack. Liverpool created an abundance of chances and could have easily of had five or six by half time. The visitors simply couldn’t cope; the men in red looked a shadow of the team that have been defeated 10 times this season. Liverpool’s dominance made you wonder why they are in such a precarious position in the first place.

Liverpool got the perfect start just three minutes into the game. Fernando Torres struck at his stunning best, Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon has been in fine form but there was nothing he could do with Torres’ wonder strike. Further goals came from Glen Johnson who added the second after half an hour and Torres made it a brace in the second half with a coolly taken deft finish. The Spaniard now has 40 league goals in 41 games at Anfield, an incredible record.

Skipper Steven Gerrard was back in central midfield and certainly looked all the more content for it. It was the kind of driving display that has been lacking from Gerrard’s game for the majority of the season. The red's number eight inspired those around him and in truth every player in a red shirt had a game to be proud of. The much maligned Emiliano Insua responded perfectly to the critics with arguably his best game of the season (although the Argentine didn’t have much defending to do which could explain why!).

Liverpool’s first 45 minutes against Portsmouth was impressive but Sunday’s effort was surely the best of a troubled season. The passing was crisp, sharp and accurate, something which has been a cause for concern on more than one occasion this term but Liverpool’s ball retention was good as it has been all campaign.

The second half was less of a spectacle but still provided numerous chances on the Mackem’s goal. In the end a 3-0 score line certainly flattered the away side and it could have been embarrassing for the Wearsiders had Liverpool been more clinical. As ever, as cliché as it may sound, it’s important to capitalise on the current run of form Liverpool find themselves on (the performance at Old Trafford wasn’t as bad as people make out). Ultimately Liverpool may need to win five of their last six to achieve fourth place and even then that may not be good enough. But if Benitez’s men continue to play like they have been since the debacle of the DW Stadium there is no reason to suggest why at least 15 points cannot be retrieved.