Potters get a smashing as Reds hit back

<strong>LIVERPOOL (4)</strong> vs <strong>STOKE (0)</strong><br /><br />LIVERPOOL took full advantage of Manchester United&rsquo;s shock defeat at Burnley by crushing Stoke to catch up with their Premier League title rivals.<br />The Reds suffered an early blow on Saturday when they lost their opening fixture at Tottenham, but they proved a point last night with a goal avalanche at Anfield.<br /><br />Forward Fernando Torres notched his first of the season and summer signing Glen Johnson acrobatically opened his account before Dirk Kuyt and David N&rsquo;Gog strikes finished off the Potters. Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is thought eager to sign a defender before the transfer window closes on 1 September, and injuries forced him to hand 18-year-old Daniel Ayala a first start. The action, however, was concentrated at the other end from the start, and only three minutes had passed when Torres converted Steven Gerrard&rsquo;s cut-back to open the scoring.<br /><br />Right-back Johnson, a &pound;17m arrival from Portsmouth, doubled the advantage just before the break when Kuyt&rsquo;s header was parried.<br /><br />The Dutchman got his name on the scoresheet in the 78th minute when captain Gerrard drilled a low cross and Kuyt slid in to beat Thomas Sorensen. Substitute N&rsquo;Gog capped an emphatic win by heading in from under the bar after Johnson&rsquo;s run and cross deflected to the young Frenchman.