Luis Suarez produced another virtuoso display as Liverpool cruised to victory over Wigan and recorded an overdue second home league win of the season.
The Uruguayan scored twice as Liverpool turned on the style during a rampant second-half performance to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches.
Jose Enrique added a third but this was Suarez’s day. After moving to the top of the Premier League scoring charts with his ninth and 10th goals of the season, he left the field to a standing ovation five minutes from time.
Wigan offered little after a promising opening 45 minutes and suffered a further setback when it emerged Ben Watson had broken his leg after an innocuous first-half challenge with Raheem Sterling.
The 17-year-old England winger was a key factor in Liverpool’s resurgence, as was an energetic performance from substitute Jordan Henderson.
The performances of those players allowed Reds boss Brendan Rodgers to deny that Suarez is carrying his side this season but having accounted for 10 of Liverpool’s 17 league goals this campaign, he appears to be thriving on the responsibility.
Convincing home wins have been collectors’ items for Liverpool in 2012, with league games at Anfield becoming a test of patience for the fans.
For 45 minutes it seemed this game would go the same way. Chances came and went, while the groans and jeers of frustration built in the stands along with a familiar sense of unease.
Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, making a rare appearance in the Anfield directors’ box, may well have had a sense of deja vu as he watched Rodgers’ side zip the ball around without ever really troubling the visitors.
After 36 minutes, Rodgers had seen enough and replaced Suso with Henderson in order to push Steven Gerrard into a more advanced role.
The possession football played by both sides was full of pretty patterns but devoid of penetration. Liverpool went into the break having only tested Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi twice, through Suso’s rasping left-foot shot and a Daniel Agger header.
But, having done so well, Wigan fell apart in 20 second-half minutes.
If the individual brilliance of Suarez and Sterling had been absent before the break it was certainly in evidence within two minutes of the restart.
A poorly placed pass by Jean Beausejour set Sterling racing onto the loose ball. The England winger skipped beyond Maynor Figueroa and paused before picking out Suarez with a composed and clever cut-back that the Uruguayan sent high into the net.
It was a goal that simultaneously relieved the growing tension and energised this struggling Liverpool side. The red shirts were pouring forward now, chasing lost causes and snapping into every tackle.
Enrique, pushed into a more advanced role down the left, was at the forefront of the resurgence and it was the Spaniard who created a second goal 11 minutes after the first with a precise through ball for Suarez.
The striker bent his run between the Wigan defenders and nipped in before Al-Habsi to poke the ball past him into the net.
Chasing a hat-trick, the Uruguayan was involved in everything now and twice more went close before playing his part in Liverpool’s third goal. He exchanged passes with 17-year-old Sterling, whose shot was parried by Al-Habsi allowing Enrique to poke in.
Gary Caldwell was booked as Wigan expressed their fury at the way the goal came about having seen a throw-in that should have gone their way awarded to Liverpool.
Martinez would later claim that Suarez was the main difference between the sides, but in the end Liverpool won at a canter.