Crystal Palace heaped more misery on a mentally frail Liverpool when they came from behind to win 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, six months after effectively ending the northern club’s title hopes when they drew 3-3.
Liverpool finished second last season but, like Tottenham Hotspur who came back to win 2-1 at Hull City late on, they have started this term poorly and are looking to climb out of mid-table and back up the standings.
While Spurs moved from 12th to 10th, Liverpool dropped a place to 12th after again losing at Palace, where their hopes of winning the title were so spectacularly dashed last May when they let slip a 3-0 lead as Palace fought back to level.
This time they wasted a lead they took in the second minute when Rickie Lambert scored his first goal for the club following his move from Southampton in the close season.
Instead of building on it, they crashed to a third successive league defeat as Palace ended a run of five league games without a win.
Goals from Dwight Gayle after 17 minutes, then Joe Ledley and a superb curling free kick from skipper Mile Jedinak in the last 12 minutes, gave Palace the points which lifted them out of the bottom three and up to 15th on 12 points — two behind Liverpool.
Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher, now a TV pundit, was scathing about their performance.
“When they came here (to Selhurst Park) last season we said they were mentally and physically weak. Same again now, nothing has changed,” he said on Sky Sports.
“As soon as Crystal Palace equalised, Liverpool did not offer anything. They are mentally and physically weak and there is no leadership,” he continued in apparent criticism of his ageing former captain Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted: “It’s a tough moment because of results and we just have to keep our focus on improving, and quickly, because the games now and until the Christmas period are very important and they come thick and fast.
“We made the perfect start but failed to manage the game at 1-0. Obviously, I need to take full responsibility,” he told Sky Sports.
Palace manager Neil Warnock said: “It was like an old-fashioned cup tie. We created some great chances and tried to win the game by playing some good football. Overall it was terrific performance, it was a Neil Warnock performance,” he beamed.
If Palace gave a Neil Warnock-like performance then Spurs gave a typical Spurs performance, especially in the first half when they flattered to deceive and Hull looked the better side.
But Spurs ended the happier despite having to wait until the 90th minute for Christian Eriksen’s winner against the home side, who had three former Spurs players — Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore — in their starting lineup.
Inevitably, it was one of them who scored against his old club with Livermore cracking home from outside the box after eight minutes.
But Hull, who have now only won once in their last 11 league games, lost their way after Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez was sent off for kicking out at Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen in an off- the-ball incident after 50 minutes and Spurs dominated from then on.
“He should not have been sent off. It was petulant yes, but not violent conduct,” said angry Hull boss Steve Bruce.
Spurs equalised through Harry Kane after 61 minutes when he was first to react after an Eriksen free kick rebounded back off a post for his 10th goal in 11 matches, before the Dane scored the winner in the dying minutes with a low shot that eluded Hull keeper Allan McGregor.
Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino said: “We showed a lot of personality and character and we need to keep that in the next few games.”