LONDON: Luis Suarez scored twice as Liverpool moved back into second place in the Premier League with a crushing 5-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling were also on target, with the victory taking Brendan Rodgers´s side above Chelsea on goal difference and to within two points of leaders Arsenal.Suarez´s double continued his outstanding scoring run and the striker has now scored 17 Premier League goals this season, while Liverpool took their tally to 14 goals in the last three games.
The impressive one-sided win confirmed Liverpool´s credentials as title contenders, while defeat brought an end to Tottenham´s recent recovery after they had fallen to successive defeats against Newcastle United and Manchester City.
Now five points adrift of the top four and eight points off first place, the focus will again be trained on manager Andre Villas-Boas, who also saw midfielder Paulinho sent off for a high challenge on Suarez.
The fact that Suarez has now scored two more Premier League goals than Tottenham have managed altogether highlights Spurs´ weaknesses up front, but this defeat exposed frailties in all departments.
Spurs actually succeeded in keeping Suarez quiet for the opening 15 minutes of the game but once he caught sight of the home goal, Villas-Boas´s side found the Uruguay forward impossible to handle.
Installed as captain in the absence of Steven Gerrard, who is expected to be out for around six weeks with a hamstring problem, Suarez almost wrong-footed Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with an improvised shot that drifted narrowly wide.
But that proved to be a temporary let-off for the home side, with Suarez making no mistake after Henderson´s reactions proved to be quicker than those of Michael Dawson, the Spurs centre-back.Dawson appeared to have cut out Suarez´s threaded pass but he was dispossessed by Henderson, who picked out Suarez as the striker burst into the Spurs area.
A neat side-step took the Reds skipper around Kyle Walker, before he slotted home a side-foot finish.
The goal highlighted the difference between the two teams, while Liverpool´s greater pace and incisive passing exposed the gaps in the Tottenham defence.
Liverpool were unaffected by Gerrard´s absence in central midfield, while Sterling was giving Spurs left-back Kyle Naughton a torrid time.
The visitors´ failure to convert a number of chances meant Tottenham retained hope of recovery.
But with the Spurs defence in disarray, more chances were always likely to come Liverpool´s way and they finally made it 2-0 in the 40th minute.
Lloris produced two fine saves to deny first Henderson and then Suarez, before Henderson again reacted well and drilled home the second rebound.
Villas-Boas clearly needed to make changes and he responded by replacing Naughton with Zeki Fryers at half-time, and no doubt instructed his players to match Liverpool´s greater industry and movement.
The response was positive, with Roberto Soldado firing over immediately after the restart.
That, though, proved to be a brief moment of promise for the home side and the woodwork denied Liverpool four minutes later when Mamadou Sakho headed against the post.
Any hope of a Tottenham recovery disappeared in the 63rd minute when Paulinho challenged Suarez for a bouncing ball, planting his studs in the Uruguayan´s ribs and earning a straight red card.
Flanagan compounded the home side´s misery with a first-time shot from Suarez´s cross before the Liverpool captain scored his second in the 84th minute when he chipped Lloris from outside the area after being played through by Luis Alberto.
Sterling completed the rout in the 89th minute after being sent clear by Suarez. (AFP)