Luis Suarez marked his return to Barclays Premier League action with a double as Liverpool edged past bottom-of-the-table Sunderland.
The Uruguay international, back in the fold after completing a 10-match suspension, needed just 37 minutes to find his way on to the scoresheet when he made the most of a flowing move to tap home from close range, and then celebrated by revealing a tee-shirt dedicated to his family.
Strike-partner Daniel Sturridge had given the visitors the lead by bundling home a 28th-minute Steven Gerrard corner with referee Howard Webb failing to spot that the ball had gone in off his arm, and it was he who set up Suarez to make it 3-1 at the death.
However, managerless Sunderland, who had earlier hit the bar through Sebastian Larsson, more than played their part in the game and got themselves back into it when Emanuele Giaccherini pulled a goal back seven minutes after the restart.
There was as much focus before kick-off on the man who occupied Liverpool's number seven shirt as there was on the search for a replacement for the man who no longer occupied a seat on the Sunderland bench.
That process is ongoing with chief executive Margaret Byrne using her programme notes to inform the club's fans that talks have taken place with several candidates, and that there will be discussions with more this week.
Interim head coach Kevin Ball, who has put himself forward as a candidate, launched his temporary reign with a Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough on Tuesday night, and kept faith with the 11 men who brought a measure of normality back to the club after a chaotic few weeks.
Once again, they produced a performance which combined character, organisation and some intent.
Unfortunately for them, however, they came face to face with a team which boasted significantly more potent weapons than those in the Posh armoury.
There was little to choose between the sides during the early exchanges and Larsson came close to giving the home side a 24th-minute lead when his free-kick beat former team-mate Simon Mignolet, but came back off the bar.