While the former Manchester City strikers finishing was wayward, dazzling forward Raheem Sterling netted the opener inside eight minutes, captain Steven Gerrard scored from a penalty at the start of the second half and defender Alberto Moreno opened his account for Liverpool. The dismantling of Tottenham was the perfect response by last seasons runners-up to losing at Manchester City in the previous game, reasserting their threat without Luis Suarez. For Mauricio Pochettino, who had opened his Tottenham reign with a pair of victories in both the Premier League and Europa League, the collapse showed the size of the gulf that still exists between the London club and its elite rivals.
Tottenham hadnt even conceded a goal in its opening wins over West Ham and Queens Park Rangers, but Hugo Lloris goal was under siege from the start by Liverpool. Balotelli was signed from AC Milan for 16 million pounds ($26.5 million) on Monday to fill the void up front left by Suarezs departure to Barcelona. But the Italy striker was never as menacing at White Hart Lane as Suarez who scored twice in Liverpools 5-0 win here last season.
Presented with an opening in the 2nd minute, Balotellis header was parried by Lloris but he couldnt get the follow-up effort on target. Instead a trio of English players combined for the opener six minutes later.
Jordan Henderson seized possession on the halfway line and released Daniel Sturridge to launch a counterattack down the right flank before the ball was returned to the midfielder. Henderson then squared to Sterling, who was left unmarked by Eric Dier and Younes Kaboul to tap the ball into the net.
It could have been 2-0 in the 11th minute when Sterling played in Sturridge though the center but the strikers effort was wide. Another attempt from Sturridge, after being played in by Balotellis backheel, was thwarted by Lloris diving save. And when Lloris was stranded outside the area, Balotelli tried his luck from distance but completely missed the net.
How costly Tottenhams own miss just before half time proved to be. A defensive mix-up presented Nacer Chadli with an opening but he stabbed the ball straight at goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Then, four minutes into the second half, Liverpool was further in front after being awarded a soft penalty when Joe Allen went down after being held back by Dier. Despite Balotellis presence, Gerrard retained penalty taking duties and sent the spotkick beyond Lloris reach. Pochettino waited until the 59th minute to respond with changes, with central defender Mousa Dembele on for Nabil Bentaleb and winger Cristian Eriksen replaced by Andros Townsend.
Inside a minute, Townsends first contribution was being dispossessed on the half way line by Moreno, who dispatched the ball into the net.
The damage for Tottenham could have been worse had Sterlings finish matched his skill in waltzing past three Tottenham players. The convincing win sets up Liverpool to build from a position of strength after the international break.
ARSENAL HELD BY LEICESTER
Arsenal missed the chance to move up to third in the Premier League table after they were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged Leicester City on Sunday.
Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal but Arsenal were pegged back within two minutes by Leicesters record signing Leonardo Ulloa. The visitors dominated for long spells but appeared to miss the presence of last seasons top scorer Oliver Giroud, who faces up to four months on the sidelines with a broken leg.
Arsenal sit seventh in the standings while Leicester, in 15th, remain winless but have performed well in their three games since returning to the Premier League.