Late controversy took most of the post-match headlines, but Daniel Sturridge's display was noteworthy in its own right, with the new signing getting on the score sheet and showing flashes of promise in his time on the pitch.
I suppose the Luis Suarez handball and resulting fallout merits mention, if only because it's all everyone's been talking about since the final whistle. Clear as day, the ball struck the hand of Suarez, and the striker dribbled it into the goal and then fired it off the side netting. The manner in which he did that suggested an attitude of misfortune rather than malice, and when contrasted with celebrations he's conducted after other goals this season, it was clear he thought something was amiss. That the linesman and head referee Andre Marriner deemed no intent has nothing to do with Luis Suarez, and the junior scout badge everybody wanted him to gather by admitting blame doesn't look to be happening.
The only public comments worth noting are those from Mansfield manager Paul Cox--who emerged from this with dignity firmly intact--and the loads of folks opting for the more sensible route, as opposed to the embarrassing vilification perpetrated by Jon Champion during the broadcast, James Lawton in his ode to Paradise Lost in the Independent, and in the back pages of Liverpool's least reputable newspapers. It wasn't a result that left anyone other than Mansfield and their manager covered in any sort of glory, but it's done and over with.
So. Onto Daniel Sturridge, who'd been the story of the night up to point that he was taken off for Suarez, and who joined with Brad Jones and Jamie Carragher as Liverpool's best on the night. It wasn't a performance to set the world alight, and certainly not one that's going to change anyone's minds about who'd they'd prefer to have as Liverpool's central striker moving forward. Those who want Suarez will likely still prefer the Uruguayan, and those who wanted Sturridge probably found enough in tonight's performance to strengthen that argument.
Most impressive in the early-going was his link with Jonjo Shelvey; Sturridge hung on the last defender on a number of times waiting for well-timed pass from the midfield, and when it was right it was often Shelvey as the provider. The opener was a terrific example of this, as Sturridge picked himself up just as Shelvey gained possession and made an excellent run past his marker, and the pass was perfectly weighted and on-point in terms of timing, lending itself nicely to a quintessential striker's finish. He also did some good work down the right, breaking past defenders at will and cutting back across goal to try to create.
He displayed little of the selfishness or complacency about which we'd had concerns, and while his passing left a little to be desired and he lingered far too long on what could (and probably should) have been Liverpool's second, it was a very solid debut, and one that he'll hopefully build upon as he gains form and fitness.