PHILIPPE COUTINHO’S superb hat-trick made sure there was none of the “all or nothing” drama that Jurgen Klopp had promised.
The Liverpool boss was expecting a nail biting night of edge-of-the-seat European football as his side went after the point they needed to reach the Champions League last 16.
Instead, the Reds swept aside Spartak Moscow without BREAKING sweat as they took their goals tally for this season’s Champions League campaign to an impressive 29 in eight games.
That was a personal triumph for Klopp who had received criticism from some fans for axing England midfielder Jordan Henderson from his starting line-up.
That meant Coutinho taking the captain’s armband from the deposed Henderson … but how he responded to the responsibility.
The rampant Reds knocked in three inside the opening 18 minutes, two of them from the magnificent Coutinho.
The floodgates opened with just three minutes on the clock when defender Georgi Dzhikiya hauled back Mo Salah by the shoulders as the in-form Liverpool man sprinted into the box.
It looked a cast-iron pen and Coutinho made no mistake, hesitating slightly in his run-up before sending Aleksandr Selikhov the wrong way from the spot.
Anfield, such an electrifying place on European nights like this, was warming up and, more importantly, so were their heroes.
It took until the quarter-hour for Klopp’s creative quartet to link together for a brilliant second goal.
Sadio Mane’s through ball played Salah into the box and his lay-off found Firmino who selflessly picked out the run of Coutinho.
And the Brazilian made no mistake with a lethal finish past the stranded Selikhov from 10 yards.
His hat-trick goal, after 50 minutes, was far scrappier but drew arguably the loudest cheer of the night.
Sub James Milner threaded a pass into the Spartak area and the Brazilian saw his shot hit defender Salvatore Bocchetti and fly into the corner.
Not that Coutinho was the only one of Liverpool’s powerful arsenal of attacking powerhouses to showcase his skills last night.
Firmino got in on the act after 18 minutes when Mane’s strong shot hit defender Serdar Tasci with the crowd appealing loudly for handball.
The appeal fell on deaf ears but that did not matter to Firmino who, without hesitation, lashed an unstoppable shot into the Moscow goal.
It was a stunning opening although, of course, reminiscent of the last European outing when Liverpool raced into a 3-0 lead in Sevilla only to fold like a Southport deck chair.
But it was hard to see the Russians fighting back like Sevilla had done and Mane wrapped it up with the goal of the night two minutes after the break.
Sub James Milner floated over a perfect cross from the left and Mane volleyed in a spectacular right-foot blast as he fell backwards onto the Anfield turf.
Liverpool continued an impressive night of target practice with Coutinho completing his treble and the impressive Mane claiming his second of the night on 75 minutes.
Salah sent sub Daniel Sturridge sprinting down the right and his low cross was turned in by Mane as he twisted and stumbled to the ground.
It was not over and the only thing missing for the Reds was a goal for Salah, which eventually came five minutes from time.
Milner, with his third assist of the night, headed across goal and, after Sturridge had left the ball to run to his Egyptian team mate, Salah switched feet and buried in the seventh.
Liverpool might have had even more, certainly before the break, when Mane shot just wide, Salah’s shot weakly at the keeper and Mane blazed over from Salah’s flick.