Premier League - Spurs down nine-man Reds
Liverpool slumped to a second away defeat as an indisciplined performance saw them reduced to nine men during a 4-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Though Kenny Dalglish recently complained his side have been harshly treated by referees, and met with officials' chief Mike Riley this week to discuss his concerns, on Sunday Liverpool's downfall was all of their own making.
Tottenham had already taken the lead through a superb goal from Luka Modric when Charlie Adam was dismissed for a second yellow card after only 28 minutes when his outstretched leg caught Scott Parker on the upper thigh.
Martin Skrtel followed after 63 minutes when a tortuous afternoon at the hands of Gareth Bale ended with a second foul on the Welshman that earned a booking. Spurs made Liverpool pay when strikers Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor scored in quick succession to hand Spurs a second successive victory. Adebayor then scored a well-taken second right at the end of stoppage time to take his Tottenham tally to three goals in two games.
The result saw Tottenham move onto six points from four games, while Liverpool drop level with QPR, Aston Villa and Wolves with seven from five.
A win at Wolves last weekend had snapped Tottenham out of their traumatic start to the season which witnessed defeats to both Manchester clubs, and Harry Redknapp's side looked rejuvenated in the first half, assisted by their manager's decision to play a reserve team against PAOK in the Europa League in midweek.
With Gareth Bale tormenting makeshift right-back Martin Skrtel and Modric and Scott Parker both models of perpetual motion in midfield, they harassed Liverpool from the off and tore into the unsettled and indisciplined visitors in a performance full of purpose.
As early as three minutes into the game, Tottenham should have been in front. Daniel Agger and Jose Enrique completely failed to deal with a long punt forward from Brad Friedel and allowed Niko Kranjcar to take possession. He squared for Adebayor, who dragged a shot wide when he had to beat Jose Reina.
Liverpool started with Stewart Downing ahead of Skrtel and Spurs clearly sensed vulnerability as they targeted the visitors' right flank to good effect. The opening goal came from the pocket in behind Skrtel as Bale delivered a cross for Defoe, who was denied when Enrique stuck his boot in. However, the ball ran neatly into the path of Modric who unleashed a quite brilliant first-time effort from 20 yards that flew past Reina an in off the underside of the bar.
With the Reds failing to find any cohesion in midfield, and looking clueless in defence, Tottenham swarmed over Dalglish's side and Modric could have claimed a second when, after Kranjcar had a shot blocked, his low effort was kept out by the diving Reina.
The little Croatian had already drawn Adam into a booking after 13 minutes and Liverpool's hopes of stemming the tide of Tottenham attacks were fatally damaged just before the half-hour mark when Adam was shown a second yellow. Though he had his eye on the ball as it dropped from the sky, the midfielder still planted his outstretched leg into Parker's upper thigh and was rightly ordered off the pitch.
Dalglish claimed this week that his side have been unfairly treated by referees and held talks with match officials' boss Mike Riley to address his concerns, but he had only his own players to blame as they lost all discipline.
Debutant Sebastian Coates, on for Agger after the Dane sustained an injury, was arguably fortunate to only see a yellow card when bringing down Adebayor with a clumsy challenge, Skrtel was booked for fouling Bale and then Suarez went into the book for sarcastically applauding referee Mike Jones and then reacted furiously to the punishment.
Tottenham were unfortunate to only lead 1-0 at half-time, with Younes Kaboul heading wide from a corner, while Liverpool were restricted to a neat finish from Suarez that was rightly ruled out for offside.
Dalglish was faced with a difficult team-talk at the break and inside 60 seconds of the restart almost saw Spurs score a second when Defoe turned the ball wide after a wonderful pass from Adebayor. However, the England man had been wrongly ruled offside. The two combined again just before the hour as Defoe slipped a pass out to Adebayor, who took a touch and then produced a weak effort that dribbled into Reina's welcoming gloves.
Liverpool's 10 men had some success in quietening Tottenham but their task was complicated further on 63 minutes when Skrtel received the red card that had appeared to be his destiny since almost the first minute. The makeshift right-back was guilty of a messy challenge from behind on Bale, again, and was rightly dismissed.
The visitors were punished inside three minutes. Rafael van der Vaart, on as substitute to signal his return from a hamstring injury, spread the ball wide to Defoe, and although the striker allowed Enrique in with a poor touch, he recovered to drill an excellent low effort past Reina.
Two became three within two minutes as Liverpool's misery deepened. Reina was guilty of a horrible error when spilling a shot from Defoe and Adebayor nipped in to lift the ball over the keeper and then finish from close range for his second goal in two games for Spurs.
The remainder of the match was played at the pace of a training game as Liverpool were left chasing shadows, as they had been since the first whistle. In injury time, Adebayor applied the coup de grace as he collected a clever pass from substitute Giovani Dos Santos and thumped a volley past Reina.