Benteke's striker's instinct is what Liverpool were lacking
Controversial goal aside, Benteke restores to Reds what was lacking in Carroll and Balotelli - instinct
(Christian Benteke 26)
Paying the asking price has become more prerequisite than a last resort for Liverpool in recent times.
They have been counting the cost of that policy since 2011, when Kenny Dalglish concluded that several of the club's former tormentors were actually their missing links.
It often proved to be a false economy.
Little wonder, then, that any signs of return on their £32.5 million ($71.5m) outlay for Christian Benteke was held up to scrutiny, particularly given that dubious record in the market.
But against Bournemouth yesterday morning (Singapore time), there was signs of promise that Benteke, currently their second-most expensive signing, could soon buck that trend that has seen the club's strikers maligned by the expensive failures of Andy Carroll and Mario Balotelli.
Barely 180 minutes into his Liverpool career, he is already more akin to Luis Suarez and Kevin Keegan, two members of an illustrious club he has now joined in scoring on his home debut, than Carroll or Balotelli ever attained at Anfield.
The benchmark may not have been set at a particularly lofty height - Carroll took a month and four EPL games to end his goal drought while Balotelli endured over six months and 14 games before recording a solitary strike - but Benteke's 50th goal in English football was as clinical as it was controversial.
Momentarily disregard Philippe Coutinho's involvement in the build-up - the Brazillian breached the new interpretation of the offside rule but seemingly not the judgment of referee Craig Pawson - and you appreciate what exactly Benteke has restored to Liverpool - instinct.
Whereas his predecessors often required inch-perfect crosses and spoon-fed passes to flourish, the towering Belgian is already proving far more ingenuitive, typified by an ambitious turn and shot from outside the penalty area that flew narrowly over.
Using pace and guile in an all-encompassing approach, his understanding with Coutinho, undoubtedly Liverpool's catalyst even at this early stage of the new season, saw him deviate from the preconception Rodgers had keenly tried to avoid - becoming "a guy who you chuck the ball up to".
For those banished to the Anfield wilderness, it was an education.
Balotelli observed Benteke opening his account, in front of a joyous home crowd, from an executive box.
The writing has been on the wall for the Italian at Liverpool for several months - this was more than a mere reaffirmation of that, confirming him as persona non grata.
Tales of scoring 40-metre own goals in training and an inability to become acquainted with his teammates do not carry the same level of endearment as when he was wreaking havoc both on and off the pitch at Manchester City. Even his former club grew tired of the novelty.
The only surprise behind Balotelli's failed Liverpool stint was Rodgers' misguided conviction that he was ever capable of either taming or transforming.
It was a move which has invariably left him staring down the barrel despite securing six points from six.
Benteke may go some way to expunging that pressure from owners Fenway Sports Group but it is likely to be with the caveat of the directness witnessed yesterday morning.
Time will tell whether substance can supersede style in Anfield's tactical idealism.
It was important for me on my debut at Anfield to score and help the team win. I’m settled. I am happy and I try to improve myself and be there for my teammates.
— Christian Benteke
I thought he was a real handful tonight. I think you’ve seen all the facets of his game. His holdup play is outstanding and he’s got a wonderful touch for a big guy. You see him linking and combining. He gives us a different dimension to our game.
— Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Benteke
HOWE CAN BENTEKE'S GOAL STAND?
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe had no doubt two refereeing errors had cost his side the chance of victory at Liverpool yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The promoted Cherries went down 1-0 at Anfield after a controversial Christian Benteke strike and having a goal harshly disallowed.
Benteke's 26th-minute goal was awarded despite Philippe Coutinho being in an offside position and attempting to play the ball in apparent contravention of the latest interpretation of the rules.
Howe claimed that he was particularly annoyed because the rule had been explained to all managers at a recent meeting.
"It is a clear offside under the new rules," he said in his post-match press conference. "We were sat out in front of the referees and told about the new rules. I was very surprised at the time, even from my poor angle, that the goal was given.
"That is the clearest example of the new rule you will see. A yard and a half offside and he is clearly impacting the goalkeeper. I don't think that is a tough one."
That decision compounded Bournemouth's frustration after Tommy Elphick was penalised for a foul on Dejan Lovren in the process of heading home from a corner in the fifth minute.
Howe said: "Tommy has won the ball fairly. He has been aggressive but, if that is a foul, we will be having fouls every time a corner goes into the box. That cannot be a free-kick in my opinion, no way.
"That is basically a two-goal swing against us. Two big decisions have gone against us."
It was Bournemouth's second successive 1-0 defeat after last week's loss to Aston Villa but Howe is pleased with how his side have acquitted themselves. They hit back at Liverpool in the second half and struck the woodwork through Matt Ritchie.
Howe said: "We feel aggrieved we haven't come away with at least a point but I am very proud of the players and overall very pleased with the performances."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, under pressure to deliver, was happy to take the lucky breaks that came his side's way.
He said of the controversial decisions: "I haven't seen either of them again. I think we had a good period of pressure leading up to the goal and the most important thing is it was given.
"The offside rule has changed again and it adds complication for people. But at the managers' meeting they said the advantage was looking to be with the team attacking. Thankfully, the goal counted and we are happy to get the win." - PA Sport.
Q&A: THE NEW OFFSIDE RULE
CLEAR CUT: Philippe Coutinho (circled, second from near left) is clearly offside when Jordan Henderson puts in the cross in this TV screengrab. PHOTO: TWITTER/KICKTV
Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville is among those to have criticised the latest offside rule adaptation.
"They c**k about with the offside rule every year and they don't make it any better," Neville said on Sky Sports after Christian Benteke's controversial goal for Liverpool yesterday morning.
- What is offside?
The official laws of the game, published by Fifa, state "a player is in an offside position if: he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent".
- How has offside rule evolved down the years?
The offside rule formed part of the original rules in 1863, Fifa says. Then any attacking player ahead of the ball was deemed to be offside. The law has been tinkered with since to its present form.
- What's the latest problem?
Benteke's goal, during which Philippe Coutinho played for the ball and missed, despite being in an offside position, would have been permitted last season. But under the amendment of the laws, it should have been ruled out.
- What's changed?
Players have previously been allowed to be in offside positions if they were not an "active" part of play; to be offside a player had to touch the ball.
Referees' chief Mike Riley says the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport's law making body, introduced a change, meaning anybody in an offside position making a play for the ball, being close to the ball or having an impact on an opponent would be deemed offside - even if they did not make contact.
- Will it be fairer?
In theory, yes. It should be clearer when a player is offside or not, even if he does not touch the ball.
- How long will it take officials to grasp the amendment?
Well, two rounds into the Premier League season and the first major controversy over offside happened yesterday morning. It may take a little while longer. - PA Sport.