Premier League: Liverpool ease to the top with win over Tottenham
Liverpool climbed back to the top of the Premier League as they comfortably dispatched of Tottenham 4-0 at Anfield.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey
Last Updated: 31/03/14 8:57am
Brendan Rodgers' side eighth successive Premier League win was barely in doubt as they dominated proceedings from start to finish.
They were gifted the lead just two-minutes in when Glen Johnson fired a cross into the six-yard box and Younes Kaboul could only back-heel the ball past Hugo Lloris into his own goal.
Kaboul endured something of a nightmare first-half which culminated in Luis Suarez latching onto his miscontrol just before the break and finishing with a crisp left-footed strike past Lloris.
Indeed had it not been for Lloris' brilliance on the stroke of half-time to deny Suarez with header, it could and should have been 3-0.
A blocked Christian Eriksen effort and a Roberto Soldado shot aside, Spurs showed very little in Liverpool's last third and it was the same story after the break.
Jordan Henderson should have scored early in the second period as he blasted over after good work from Raheem Sterling but the Kopites did not have long to wait for a third.
Fed by Jon Flanagan, Philippe Coutinho carried the ball to the edge of the Spurs box before clinically firing into the bottom corner.
The fourth duly arrived with 15-minutes remaining, with Henderson getting his name on the score-sheet after his in-swinging free-kick went through a crowd and straight in, completing a resounding and thoroughly deserved win which takes Liverpool two points clear of Chelsea and four of third placed Manchester City.
It is the first time since Christmas that they have been at the summit, and the last four teams who occupied that position on December 25 went on to win the title and the prospect of a first title for 24 years is now closer than a speck on the horizon it has been for a couple of decades.
As has been so often the case this season, especially at home, Liverpool's start was explosive.
Just 100 seconds had elapsed from kick-off when they went ahead with a slick move which ended with Kaboul putting into his own net.
Coutinho sprayed the ball out to Sterling, back in the starting line-up for the first time in three matches, and overlapping full-back Johnson drilled in a cross from which, had Kaboul not done the honours, Daniel Sturridge would have cleaned up from close range.
Suarez, after two crosses from either flanks which first saw the ball sail marginally over the head of the waiting Sturridge and then drilled narrowly wide by Coutinho's volley, whipped a 25-yard free-kick over before producing a sublime strike for his 29th of the season.
Suarez nipped in ahead of Kaboul, skipped past the defender and drilled an angled shot across Lloris and inside the far post - into the only spot the goalkeeper could be beaten.
In doing so, he eclipsed Robbie Fowler's record of goals in a Premier League season with the promise of plenty more to come before the end of the campaign.
Tottenham saw so little of the ball their chances were sporadic at best, and, when Eriksen did find space in the area, Martin Skrtel threw his body in the way and Gylfi Sigurdsson's follow-up header was saved by Simon Mignolet.
Kaboul's day continued its downward spiral when he was robbed by Sterling, who crossed to the back post, where Suarez's header was clawed onto the crossbar by Lloris and hooked clear by Nabil Bentaleb.
Any chance Spurs had of rescuing the situation ended as, after Jordan Henderson ballooned over a cut-back from Sterling, Coutinho made the result safe.
Flanagan offloaded to Coutinho in midfield and he advanced to the edge of the box before unleashing a low shot from 25 yards which easily beat Lloris for just his fourth goal of the season and sealed Liverpool's place at the top of the table.