Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 6: Sturridge on target in Villa Park stroll
Daniel Sturridge marked his return to the Liverpool starting line-up with the opening goal as Jurgen Klopp's side thrashed hapless Aston Villa 6-0 at Villa Park.
Remi Garde warned before Sunday's game that his team would have "no chance" if they did not improve upon their performance in last week's win over Norwich City, and the game was put beyond their reach in the first half as Sturridge - for the fifth time in four league games for Liverpool against Villa - and James Milner found the net.
Emre Can's fine low finish made it 3-0 early in the second half before Divock Origi and Nathaniel Clyne scored one each inside a ruthless five-minute spell in which Villa's resistance completely collapsed.
Kolo Toure's header made it six for the visitors to inflict a worst-ever home Premier League defeat on a Villa side who remain eight points from safety, while Liverpool are now back to within three points of fifth-placed Manchester United.
Sturridge did not take long to make his mark on his first Premier League start since October. Villa allowed Philippe Coutinho time and space to curl a fine cross towards the far post from the left, and Sturridge ghosted in between Joleon Lescott and Aly Cissokho to head confidently into the bottom corner.
Liverpool made it 2-0 just nine minutes later, as Milner's curling free-kick from the left sailed into the far corner after Mark Bunn had horribly misjudged the flight of the ball.
Bunn reacted well to keep out Alberto Moreno's prod towards the bottom corner and he clawed away a bending effort from Sturridge from just inside the area, as Klopp's team pushed for a third to cement their complete control over proceedings.
Leandro Bacuna called Simon Mignolet into action for the first time with a low effort after cutting in from the right, but Villa were dealt a major blow when they lost Gabriel Agbonlahor to injury shortly before the hour mark.
Liverpool compounded the Villa Park misery just two minutes later as they grabbed their third of the game, Coutinho teeing up Can to drill low past Bunn first time from 20 yards out.
Sturridge made way for Origi in the 62nd minute and the substitute took just 37 seconds to add Liverpool's fourth, racing in behind the high Villa line onto Coutinho's pass before finishing low past Bunn.
Villa's frustrations were beginning to boil over and Ashley Westwood was fortunate not to be sent off for a reckless late challenge on Origi, but it got worse for the home side when Clyne tapped in from six yards after Bunn had saved superbly to deny the full-back's initial effort.
Liverpool added another when Toure nodded Jordan Henderson's corner straight down the middle of the goal and past the motionless Bunn, as Klopp's side became the first to score six at Villa Park in the top flight since Arsenal in 1983.
Scott Sinclair hit the post with a curling shot which drew ironic cheers from the handful of Villa fans who had stayed inside the ground to see out the closing stages, while the buoyant visiting faithful celebrated their best win under Klopp's management.