Sturridge back with a bang as Liverpool rout Southampton
Liverpool and England striker returns from latest injury to take plaudits for his stylish first-half double strike
Southampton 1 Liverpool 6
Daniel Sturridge scored twice in his first start under Jurgen Klopp to steal the headlines from Divock Origi, who hit a second-half hat-trick, as Liverpool taught Southampton a footballing lesson to set up a Capital One Cup semi-final clash against Stoke City.
Sadio Mane had put the Saints in front after just 39 seconds to throw a spanner in the works for Klopp's new look red machine, but his side quickly recovered and roared back through Sturridge to lead 2-1 by the half-hour mark.
Sturridge was taken off after an hour to protect his fitness, but there were more goals in his absence as Origi, voted one of the worst players in France while on loan last season, finally got off the mark for the English club - doing it in style with a 'perfect' hat-trick of a right-footed goal, a left-footed strike and a header.
Origi "became the latest to benefit from a dose of the German coach's magic dust", writes James Pearce writes in the Liverpool Echo, admitting that before Wednesday night "the 20-year-old had struggled to live up to the hype following his £10m move from Lille."
But although he was only on target twice, it was the return of Sturridge that was the story of the night for many, with England manager Roy Hodgson undoubtedly taking a keen interest in the 26-year-old's recovery from the injury niggles which have hounded him for the last 18 months.
"The options that are now potentially open to Roy Hodgson have never been better," says Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph, adding that "it is still hard to think of a more instinctively dangerous player when he is fully fit than Daniel Sturridge."
Sturridge took his two goals with aplomb., firing home the first from a tight angle and finishing the second with a first-time finish. Pearce of the Echo was impressed, claiming "when fit and firing, there isn't a more gifted or natural finisher in England".
With Liverpool just six points off the top of the Premier League, Sturridge has the potential to make a real impression on the title race this season - should he manage to stay fit, that is.
His manager seemed impressed with his evening's work too, saying: "I said to him after the game: 'Now I know what everybody is talking about.' I knew about his quality but not live in a stadium."