Our unbeaten run in December came to an abrupt halt at the Lane as Liverpool capitalised on the second half dismissal of Paulinho to score five without reply.
Our central midfield operation was clearly diminished following the Brazilian’s red card with the score still at 2-0, with the Reds going on to take full advantage.
Andre made seven changes to the side which swept aside Anji Makhachkala in the final round of Europa League group games on Thursday, with Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon, Paulinho, Sandro and Nacer Chadli all restored to the starting line-up.
An early chance opened up for Liverpool when Luis Suarez knocked the ball down into the path of Philippe Coutinho, but the latter could only scoop his effort in the general direction of Lloris. Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho blocked from Paulinho shortly afterwards at the other end.
In the sixth minute, Chadli broke free through the middle and after a tight exchange with Lennon inside the 18-yard box the ball ran loose to Paulinho who ballooned his effort over the bar.
A minute later, Paulinho fell under pressure from Jon Flanagan at the back post as he tried to get on the end of Kyle Walker’s floated free kick, but nothing was given and the visitors cleared their lines.
The Reds squandered a couple of chances in the 12th minute, first when Coutinho’s low free-kick from the right side of the box was cleared, and then when Raheem Sterling scooped over the bar from the edge of the area after Suarez was dispossessed.
We came under pressure on 15 minutes when the visitors won a series of corner kicks, but each time our defence stood firm to repel the danger. Sterling zipped into the box shortly after the third flag kick was half-cleared, but Lloris got low to smother the ball.
The visitors’ pressure finally told in the 18th minute when Suarez pounced after Jordan Henderson saw off the attention of Dawson, with the in-form marksman clinically firing past Lloris.
We naturally went in search of an equaliser and might have got it when Chadli got to the byline and hooked across the crowded box, but the ball flew just beyond the stretching Lennon.
Liverpool swiftly went back on the offensive as Sterling sent Suarez clean through behind the defence, but Lloris came to the rescue with a fine block, with Liverpool unable to trouble us further from the resulting corner.
Lloris was called on again on 22 minutes, rushing out quickly to claim the ball at the feet of Joe Allen as the game continued at a frenetic pace, while Paulinho’s speculative ball in was flicked wide by Roberto Soldado at the other end three minutes later.
Michael Dawson was cautioned after blocking off Henderson as Liverpool attempted to catch us on the break, before the Reds were denied by the crossbar. Coutinho collected a pass from Suarez and skewed his effort into the floor, the ball spiralling onto the woodwork. Glen Johnson drilled over the top in the follow-up.
We suffered a further blow when Sandro was forced to depart early after taking a knock, with Lewis Holtby on to replace him.
We had a golden chance to level the scores when Holtby whipped in a corner on the half-hour mark, with Chadli rising highest in the box, but he couldn’t steer his header on target.
We had a let off on 33 minutes when Skrtel pumped the ball forward and Suarez went through on goal, but with Lloris rushing out of his area to try and beat the striker to it, the goalkeeper was forced to head the ball upwards to avoid handling outside the box. He was then able to recover in time to save from the Uruguayan when he finally got a shot away.
In the 37th minute, the lively Chadli fizzed the ball in from the right but Soldado never got a true connection from a central position and it bobbled through to Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
A minute later Soldado lost his marker close to the byline and teed up Holtby, but the German international’s effort trickled narrowly wide.
Liverpool’s second goal was extremely harsh on Lloris when it arrived five minutes before the break. The Frenchman saved expertly from Henderson and then amazingly clawed the ball away a second time when Suarez tried to chip him, but Henderson made no mistake with his second effort when he drilled low into the net after the ball fell to him.
Soldado – determined to halve the deficit – was left frustrated when he dispossessed Mignolet at the edge of Liverpool’s box on 43 minutes and fired into the empty net; the whistle had already gone after the referee adjudged the Spaniard to have fouled the keeper.
We made a change in defence at half-time with Zeki Fryers replacing Kyle Naughton at left-back.
The first chance of the second period arrived on 47 minutes when Holtby knocked the ball through to Soldado, but the striker lifted his right-footed shot over the top.
The visitors went close to a third goal a couple of minutes later when Sterling’s cross from close to the right byline found Sakho at the back post, but the Liverpool man could only hit the upright with a close-range header.
Holtby’s dangerous free kick was cleared by the visitors’ defence just before the hour mark, but the midfielder swiftly won another in a central position and, after taking it quickly, Lennon was able to surge into the box from the right, but loud appeals for a penalty were waved away when Soldado went down under pressure from Sterling, with Liverpool able to clear their lines after Fryers’ follow-up shot was blocked.
Our task was made all the more difficult when Paulinho was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Suarez on 63 minutes – the game being held up while the striker received treatment.
Capoue surged forward on 67 minutes and won a throw on the right wing, resulting in Lennon getting in a cross which couldn’t quite find its way through to the prowling Andros Townsend.
Lloris was in the thick of the action again at the other end, clawing another Suarez effort behind for a corner before rushing off his line again two minutes later to sweep up the danger after Coutinho had skipped his way over a couple of challenges through the middle.
Suarez was off-target with a right-footed shot on 73 minutes, but the Reds’ third goal arrived two minutes later. After a magnificent covering tackle from Walker to initially thwart Henderson, the Reds’ attacker collected the rebound and laid it off for Suarez, whose teasing cross was hammered into the top corner off the underside of the bar by Jon Flanagan.
Townsend’s whipped cross from the left was cleared by the retreating Skrtel, while Sterling raced through at the other end on 82 minutes after a tidy exchange with Suarez in the middle, but Lloris was present once again to save at the midfielder’s feet.
We were, however, punished further six minutes from time when substitute Luis Alberto played in Suarez, who chipped Lloris and found the far corner of the net.
And the scoring was wrapped up when Suarez steered the ball in to Sterling, who finished calmly on 89 minutes.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker, Capoue, Dawson, Naughton (Fryers 46), Sandro (Holtby 30), Dembele (Townsend 60), Lennon, Paulinho, Chadli, Soldado. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Lamela, Defoe, Sigurdsson.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan, Allen, Lucas (Alberto 78), Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho (Moses 89), Suarez. Substitutes (not used): Jones, Toure, Agger, Aspas, Kelly.
Goals: Liverpool – Suarez 18, 84; Henderson 40; Flanagan 75.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Dawson 27, Walker 43, Holtby 66.
Red card: Spurs – Paulinho 63.
Referee: Mr J Moss.