Torres double sinks Sunderland
After Tottenham Hotspur beat Portsmouth 2-0 on Saturday it was essential for Liverpool to keep in touch and they did it in style.
Spurs remained fourth on 58 points from 31 games with Liverpool fifth on 54 from 32.
Manchester City, who have played only 30 and face Wigan Athletic on Monday, have 53 with Aston Villa on 51 from 31 after their 7-1 thrashing by Chelsea.
Manchester United, 4-0 winners at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, top the standings on 72. Chelsea, who visit United next Saturday, have 71 with Arsenal third on 68 after they drew 1-1 at Birmingham City.
Last October Liverpool controversially lost 1-0 at Sunderland's Stadium of Light after Darren Bent's shot went in via a beach ball that had been thrown on to the pitch by a Liverpool fan.
The offending ball now resides in the museum of football in Preston and that defeat seemed like ancient history as Liverpool produced a vintage first-half display.
They led 2-0 at the break and could have 10 after a relentless 45 minutes of attacking.
They set the tone with Torres's wonderfully-taken opener after three minutes. The Spanish striker cut inside from the touchline, skipped between two defenders and curled a perfect top-corner finish beyond Craig Gordon.
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The second came after 32 minutes when full back Glen Johnson's long-range effort took a deflection.
Gordon had no chance with that but made several good saves as Liverpool poured on the power. Torres hit the post and shot wide in one mad scramble and defender Daniel Agger could have had a hat-trick.
Sunderland were better in the second half without looking like getting back into the game and Liverpool wrapped up the points on the hour with a calm finish by Torres after a good ball by Johnson.
In Sunday's other game, Blackburn Rovers won 1-0 at Burnley with a first-half penalty by David Dunn to leave their Lancashire rivals still second-bottom of the standings.