Javier Hernandez may have stolen his thunder with a poacher’s finish, but there is no doubt that Luis Suarez made an eye-catching return to football as Liverpool crashed out of the Capital One Cup against Manchester United last night.
The Uruguay international had not played a competitive game for Liverpool for five months, as he endured his 10- match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
In that time, he had turned a blind eye to the warmth and support he received from the Liverpool faithful, and tried to engineer a move away to Real Madrid, then Arsenal.
Liverpool refused to let him go because his value to their cause as one of the best players in the world is simply irrefutable.
But Suarez is nothing if not headstrong. And Liverpool have previous in dealing with a sulking striker who refused to give his all on the pitch until he was sold. And so it was captivating to witness if Suarez would bust a gut against the Red Devils. And he did.
He gradually grew into the game, and was clearly Liverpool’s best player and major threat.
The Suarez of old began to emerge as the minutes ticked past. The dribbles, twists, feints and unpredictable runs were all in evidence, and at times he appeared to be more than a few steps and thoughts ahead of his team-mates. Cynical fouls were often United’s last resort to stop him.
He also came close to scoring, when he rattled the bar with a typically venomous free-kick.
No Liverpool fans will rejoice in defeat to their most heated rivals, but they will be both satisfied and relieved with the way Suarez played on his return from the sin bin.
He acknowledged their support before and after the game, did everything he could to influence events during it.
And both Suarez and his manager, Brendan Rodgers, are clearly pleased that he is back in the mix, as Liverpool aim to field their strongest XI in the future.
"The result is not good because we lost but the feeling is good because we played very well, we created chances but we missed," Suarez said last night.
"I know it was a difficult moment but for myself and for the team it's very important I'm back because I can help the team, and being off the pitch I can't. We'll keep going for the week and for the next game. All the time I try my best on the pitch. I'm here to help the team and help Liverpool and I'll try my best."
Meanwhile, Rodgers added: "I thought he [Suarez] was excellent. He tired a wee bit towards the end, but he went close with the free-kicks and I thought he did really well considering the time he has been out.
"It is only natural that he will take some time. That adrenalin got him over the line in his first game back and maybe he will feel it in the next few days. He is a fighter, his determination is so high and he will recover for the weekend. We are delighted to have him back.
"He is one of the most determined people I have met in my life, he is very thick skinned and he will go and play anywhere. When you have been out for so long, he was never going to be fazed by [returning against Manchester United]."