Danny Ings scored four and registered two assists to inspire Liverpool U23s to a 7-0 demolition of Bristol City in the Premier League Cup on Sunday.
Neil Critchley had warned that a change in fortune for Ings was imminent following a frustrating few weeks in front of goal for the striker - and the manager’s words rang true at the Swansway Chester Stadium.
By the 21st minute, the England international had netted three.
Ings opened the scoring in the first minute and added two more stylish finishes in quick succession to put Liverpool in complete command.
Yan Dhanda then benefited from Ings’ subtlety around the area when he latched onto a neat pass from his teammate and clipped a shot beyond City goalkeeper Max O’Leary to make it 4-0 before the break.
Ings showed his predatory instincts by nodding in the rebound after Jon Flanagan had seen his shot parried midway through the second period.
And late strikes from Conor Masterson and Harry Wilson rounded off the scoring after City’s Aden Baldwin had been sent off.
The young Reds have now collected four points from their first two Premier League Cup matches, with their next game in the competition coming against Stoke City on December 3.
Barely 60 seconds had passed when Ings put Critchley’s team in front with a clinical effort from Matty Virtue’s clever reverse pass.
O’Leary reacted well to palm away Wilson’s snap-shot soon after, but there was nothing he could do to stop Ings from doubling Liverpool’s advantage in the 17th minute.
Cameron Brannagan fed an excellent ball forward, allowing Ings and Wilson to exchange passes before the former side-footed classily into the top corner.
Liverpool were rampant and Ings had his hat-trick four minutes later. Wilson saw an effort come back off the woodwork and the 25-year-old crashed a powerful drive high past O’Leary having loitered with intent on the edge of the area.
Only a smart save from O’Leary prevented Ings from registering again 60 seconds later when the England international directed a header back across goal.
A little past the half-hour mark, though, Liverpool had their fourth.
This time, Ings was the provider as he slipped a cute ball into Dhanda’s path and the teenager finished well.
Caoimhin Kelleher had been a virtual spectator throughout the first half, but his impressive double save from Rory Holden and Cameron Pring denied City a goal shortly before the break.
O’Leary was once again called into action to save Wilson’s free-kick midway through the second period, but Ings reacted quickest to head home after the 'keeper had parried Flanagan’s drive and an unmarked Masterson made it six soon after.
And there was still time for Ings and Wilson to combine once more, as the former set up the latter to score his ninth goal of another prolific season with two minutes remaining.
Liverpool: Kelleher, Flanagan, Jones (Masterson), Whelan, Juanma (Johnston), Brannagan, Virtue, Ejaria (Kane), Wilson, Dhanda, Ings.
Unused subs: Firth, Alves.