Luis Suarez scored two goals and assisted two more as Liverpool returned to second place with a comprehensive 5-0 win at 10-man Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in the Premier League.
Suarez scored in either half, and Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling added one goal each as Liverpool retook second place with a statement-making victory, their biggest ever win at White Hart Lane. The Reds, on 33 points, are level with Chelsea—ahead on goal differential—and two points behind leaders Arsenal.
Tottenham lost for the fifth time in 16 total matches and a third time in eight home games this season. The loss will heap further pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas following a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City earlier this season. Spurs are seventh with 27 points.
"It is probably the most complete performance since I've been here and continues the evolution of what we're trying to do," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said, per @LFCUSA.
Villas-Boas, meanwhile, said he was to blame for the manner of defeat. "I assume the responsibility of the failure," he said, per Yahoo! Sport. "We have to bounce back again as we did after City. In the Premier League things are not going as expected."
Responding to questions about his job security, Villas-Boas added: "It is up to me to make things better. We have the best record of shots in the Premier League but today we were unable to do this."
Sensational display from Liverpool who are title contenders in that mood. Spurs lamentable and 0-5 home defeat could be costly for AVB— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) December 15, 2013
Liverpool very impressive today. Victory never in doubt.— PATRICK SNELL (@PATRICKCNN) December 15, 2013
Despite having played 5 less games, Luis Suarez has now scored more league goals this season than the whole Spurs squad.— The Football Bar (@TheFootballBar) December 15, 2013
Rodgers made only one change from the team that won 4-1 at home to West Ham last week as Lucas Leiva replaced injured captain Steven Gerrard. Suarez, leading scorer in the Premier League with 17 goals after Sunday, captained Liverpool for the first time in the absence of Gerrard.
For Spurs, Villas-Boas made two changes from the win at Sunderland last weekend. Sandro and Roberto Soldado replaced Jermain Defoe and Lewis Holtby.
After a spell of early dominance, Liverpool went ahead in the 18th minute through a familiar source. On the edge of Tottenham's box, Henderson won possession off Michael Dawson and left the ball for the onrushing Suarez.
Suarez took one touch to enter the box, another to cut back and set up his left foot, and a third to finish coolly at the far post. It was his 16th league goal of the season, three more than Manchester City's Sergio Aguero.
Is there any question that Luis Suarez is the best player in the Premier League this season? Good lord, another amazing goal.— Timothy Rapp (@TRappaRT) December 15, 2013
Four minutes later, it was nearly 2-0. The excellent Sterling won possession in midfield and threaded a pass through Tottenham's defense to Suarez on the right. Suarez tried to shoot through Hugo Lloris' legs but the French goalkeeper managed to deflect the shot out for a corner.
Seconds later, Sterling was the catalyst again as Liverpool looked to capitalize on their superiority. But Lloris came off his line alertly to reach Sterling's through-ball before Philippe Coutinho could pounce.
Liverpool continued to pepper Tottenham's goal with shots. Coutinho hit the crossbar with a looping shot in the 28th minute before Glen Johnson blasted a shot high and wide of the near post.
Tottenham introduced Holtby for the injured Sandro in the 30th minute, and the change nearly paid off immediately. Holtby's corner from the left in the 31st minute was met by Nacer Chadli, whose header was off target.
The next chance fell to Liverpool after Suarez raced onto a long ball out of the back in the 33rd minute. Lloris came off his line in an attempt to clear, but his header fell to Suarez in the box. The keeper made up for his error quickly, though, racing back to block Suarez's shot after Suarez took too much time to set up his right foot.
In the 38th minute, Holtby dragged a first-time shot wide of the far post after good work by Soldado. But within moments, Liverpool were 2-0 ahead.
Sterling started the move again, playing a long ball from the right on the halfway line for Coutinho, who laid off for Henderson with a sweet first touch. Henderson's initial shot was saved, as was Suarez's rebound, but Lloris was unable to keep out the third effort, which Henderson tucked in at the near post.
Spurs thought they had pulled one back in the 43rd minute, but Soldado was whistled for a foul on Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet before slotting into an empty net.
At half-time, Villas-Boas introduced Ezekiel Fryers in place of Kyle Naughton as Spurs attempted to make a comeback. The first chance of the second half fell to Soldado in the 47th minute, but the Spaniard shot off target from a tight angle on the right.
Three minutes later, Liverpool nearly made it 3-0. Sterling again supplied the final ball, crossing from the right for Mamadou Sakho, whose glancing header hit the far post.
Tottenham had a penalty appeal in the 59th minute, when Soldado appeared to be pulled down in the box, but referee Jonathan Moss waved play on. But just as Spurs appeared to be getting back into the game, the hosts went down to 10 men.
In the 62nd minute, Paulinho caught Suarez with a high, studs-up boot to the chest. Moss showed no hesitation in showing Paulinho a red card.
No question that Paulinho bent his leg there to kick Suarez in the chest. Straight red correct. An abysmal day so far for Spurs.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) December 15, 2013
Whatever fight Spurs had left was gone at that point, and Liverpool made it 3-0 in the 75th minute. Suarez crossed from the right after good work from Henderson, and Flanagan lashed his half-volleyed shot in off the underside of the crossbar.
Suarez made it 4-0 in the 84th minute, lifting a shot over Lloris from the edge of the box after running onto substitute Luis Alberto's through-ball. Sterling rounded out the scoring five minutes later, slotting in Suarez's through-ball to finish off a dispirited Spurs side.
Reaction to follow…
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Spurs host West Ham United on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals before returning to league play with a match at Southampton next Sunday.
Liverpool host Cardiff City in a Premier League match on Saturday.