Jurgen Klopp‘s side humiliated their beleaguered local rivals at Anfield, with the eventual 4-0 win kind on the visitors.
Divock Origi and Mamadou Sakho set Liverpool on their way to victory and Ramiro Funes Mori’s sending off early in the second-half effectively ended the match as a contest.
Philippe Coutinho‘s strike put the icing on the cake, but it was the Reds’ third on the night that had the most significance.
Sturridge collected Lucas Leiva‘s pass just minutes after replacing the injured Origi, and slotted a typically composed finish into the bottom corner.
It meant the 26-year-old reached a half-century of Liverpool goals three years and three months after signing for the club, with a series of injury problems the only reason it has taken so long.
The Englishman’s importance to this Liverpool team cannot be underestimated, and the game-time at which he has reached this milestone for the Reds is worth noting.
In the company of legends
Sturridge’s strike on Wednesday ensured he was the Reds’ fourth-quickest post-war player to reach the milestone, which illustrates what a goalscorer he is.
It has taken him just 87 appearances. The fact that he doesn’t take penalties or free-kicks only makes it all the more impressive.
Albert Stubbins (77) and Roger Hunt (79) are the two quickest Liverpool players to register 50 goals, although it could be argued that both were playing in an era when defending was less of a focus. It would be churlish to simply dismiss their respective efforts, though.
Fernando Torres did it in three games fewer than Sturridge. Like Sturridge, he was never the Reds’ man in charge of penalties and free-kicks, and for a two-year period, he was the world’s finest striker.
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To put into perspective just how impressive Sturridge’s ratio is, you only have to look at the Liverpool legends he has eclipsed in scoring 50 times for the club.
Luis Suarez isn’t far behind, he took 91 matches to seal his half-century of strikes.
John Aldridge (92) and Michael Owen (93), two top class poachers of the highest order, also took longer, while a couple of all-time legends were in the same boat.
Robbie Fowler, whose finishing was remarkable, scored 50 Reds goals in seven games more than Sturridge, while Kenny Dalglish took 99 appearances to achieve it.
Liverpool’s current hitman has struggled to receive the same level of credit that these aforementioned idols did during their careers, which will always remain baffling.
Songs have never been sung about him, with inferior players often lauded ahead of him, and some have even questioned his mentality during a horrific time of things with injury.
The above information is proof of just how brilliant Sturridge has been since arriving in January 2013, in a Liverpool career that still hopefully has many years left in it.
Crazy as it seems now, when Sturridge made the £12 million move from Chelsea, it was seen as a gamble by some.
The England international had failed to earn regular first-team football at Stamford Bridge and there were many who felt he would never reach the potential he had shown at Man City as a teenager.
From minute one at Liverpool, however, Sturridge has been a revelation.
The silky striker became the first Liverpool player since Ray Kennedy to score in his first three appearances for the club, when he found the net in a 5-0 drubbing of Norwich City.
By the end of the 2012/13 season, he had 11 goals in 16 matches, but it was in 2013/14 when Sturridge went up another level.
An integral part of Brendan Rodgers’ team that agonisingly missed out on winning the title, the ex-City youngster helped make Liverpool one of Europe’s most entertaining sides.
The on-pitch relationship he struck up with Suarez was sensational and Sturridge enjoyed some wonderful moments in the title-run campaign.
He scored three consecutive winning goals to start the season as Liverpool ground out 1-0 wins against Stoke, Aston Villa and, most importantly, United.
A last-gasp header at Goodison Park in November 2013 salvaged a 3-3 draw for the Reds, while a truly outrageous chip against West Brom was one of the goals of the season.
It was last season when Sturridge’s injury nightmare began, though, with the striker limited to just 18 appearances in all competitions.
When he did play he never looked fit, but despite this, Liverpool always looked a more potent, classy team with him involved. It has been that way ever since he joined the club.
After his injury troubles continued into this season, there was genuine concern that Sturridge may never return to the fold. Some typically needless social media rumours even claimed he was on the verge on retirement.
Jurgen Klopp has eased the 26-year-old back expertly, however, and Sturridge has showcased his talent since his return.
He’s scored 10 times in 20 appearances in 2015/16 to date, and although Origi has been preferred in big matches of late, he doesn’t appear to have lost any of his zip. He is slowly returning to his top level.
When fit and firing, he is a world-class footballer and arguably the Reds’ best player.
Sturridge may never quite be as loved as the likes of Suarez, Fowler and Dalglish, but his goalscoring record shows just what a special player Liverpool have in their ranks.
It’s a travesty that he has been limited to just 87 appearances so far. Hopefully there are plenty more to come.