Brendan Rodgers decided to stick with the same team that played out a bore draw at Swansea on Sunday, with Stewart Downing remaining at left back and Jordan Henderson starting alongside skipper Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen in midfield. The Reds' boss was probably regretting that decision when the hosts exploited an error from Downing to take the lead after seven minutes.
Bale had already threatened for Tottenham, testing Reina with a venomous free kick and firing a cross-shot just wide of the far post. His reward for an impressive start came when he drove powerfully at the Liverpool defence and squared to Lennon, who'd escaped the attention of the out of position Downing far too easily. He converted comfortably from close range.
|Lennon celebrates giving Spurs an early lead|
To make things worse, Tottenham enjoyed some good fortune that enabled them to double their advantage under ten minutes later. After Henderson spurned a glorious opportunity to equalise by shooting wide with an open goal to aim for, Bale delivered the sucker-punch as his set piece from range found its way past Reina thanks to a decisive deflection off the wall.
After a fatally slow start, Liverpool managed to regain a foothold in the contest during the last 25 minutes of the first half. Unfortunately, yet again they failed to craft many goalscoring chances. Nonetheless, they went agonisingly close to halving the deficit nine minutes before the break. After referee Phil Dowd frustratingly refused to point to the penalty spot following a foul on Gerrard by Dembele, Suarez's effort was excellently cleared off the line by Kyle Walker when it appeared destined to cross the line.
Liverpool continued to perform well during the second period, although they still lacked a cutting edge and the Londoners were managing to keep their opponents at arms length. After Bale's free kick curled wide of the target, Agger launched an ambitious strike from distance that fell to Suarez, whose own effort was deflected into Lloris' hands.
Since being pushed further forward, Jose Enrique has evidently enjoyed attacking at will. He continued to do so last night, seeing his shot turned behind for a corner on 71 minutes. Havoc ensued from the resulting set piece, and the ball eventually ended up comically rolling into the net after Lennon smashed it against teammate Bale's face.
|Oops! Bale amusingly reduces the Reds' arrears|
Enrique's shot then swerved inches wide of Lloris' post, before Liverpool had another appeal for a penalty fall on deaf ears. Suarez went down under a strong challenge from Gallas but was almost inevitably denied a spot kick.
It just wasn't going to be the Reds' night. Despite a relatively good display at a very tough place to go to, Tottenham clinically punished Rodgers' men for their poor start and took advantage of the goalscoring chances they created.
Liverpool could go a long way to improving their League position by learning from their opponent's performance.