Harry Kane capitalised on another defensive horror show from Liverpool by scoring twice for Tottenham in a ruthless 4-1 victory.
Dejan Lovren was substituted after just 31 minutes at Wembley but he was not the only one guilty of kamikaze defending, with Simon Mignolet and Joel Matip both major contributors to Spurs’ goal flurry.
Kane and Son Heung-min took full advantage with an early double before Mohamed Salah pulled one back for Liverpool. Dele Alli and Kane, however, struck either side of half-time to put the result beyond doubt.
It is the third time in nine Premier League games Liverpool have now conceded three goals or more and this thrashing against a fellow top-four rival showed why only the most unlikely of transformations could see them challenge for the title this season.
Defeat leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side ninth, 12 points behind Manchester City already, while Tottenham cut the gap to five after moving level on 20 points with Manchester United.
For Spurs, this was also a statement win at Wembley, perhaps their best here since adopting their new home, and in front of a Premier League record crowd of 80,827. The attendance topped the 76,098 that watched Manchester United beat Blackburn 4-1 at Old Trafford in March 2007.
The only blip on Mauricio Pochettino’s afternoon came in the 87th minute as Kane had to be substituted. The striker went off holding his hamstring.
Liverpool were chasing a third consecutive clean sheet but any suggestion their problems at the back have eased were extinguished in the first 12 minutes.
Trippier caused chaos with a speculative chip forward as Lovren was caught out of position, Mignolet rushed out but failed to intercept, and Kane simply steered the ball away from the goalkeeper. He cushioned into an empty net for his 16th goal in 13 games.
It was a dreadful goal to concede but the next eight minutes later was worse. Hugo Lloris caught James Milner’s cross and tossed the ball downfield. Lovren missed the header, allowing Kane to sprint free and square to Son, who duly slotted home.
Tottenham should have made it three. Son was involved again, latching onto a straight ball between Lovren and Matip – but his half-volley this time crashed against the crossbar.
A frenetic opening half an hour, however, took another unexpected turn as Liverpool pulled a goal back.
Kane was unfortunate not be awarded a foul after being kicked in the leg but one pass from Jordan Henderson freed the lightning-quick Salah. The Egyptian outpaced Jan Vertonghen and Serge Aurier before scuffing past Lloris.
Son and Kane were still nipping in behind Liverpool’s back-line almost at will and Lovren paid the price by coming off. If injury was the cause it was not obvious.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced him and Joe Gomez pushed inside to centre-half, with Emre Can dropping into right-back.
There was still time for one more individual error just before half-time, however, as Matip nodded Eriksen’s free-kick straight to Alli and the midfielder volleyed in for his first league goal since August.
Liverpool started the second half a bit brighter but it was not long before their defensive frailties were exposed again.
This time Mignolet was at fault as he flapped at Trippier’s cross and while Vertonghen’s effort was cleared off the line by Roberto Firmino, Kane was on hand to slam in the rebound.
Liverpool pushed for a consolation and Lloris made two excellent saves to push a curling Philippe Coutinho shot onto the post and deny Salah a second with his legs.
Kane hobbled off late on but showed little discomfort when he re-entered the pitch to congratulate his team-mates after full-time.