Liverpool moved to within a point of Barclays Under-21 Premier League leaders Manchester United with a comfortable 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.
Ryan Kent’s early opener, and two neat finishes from Samed Yesil were enough for the Reds side to overcome Ugo Ehiogu’s Spurs, who grabbed a consolation through Will Miller towards the end.
United play fellow title contenders Leicester City on Monday night in the knowledge that, should they slip up, it is not just the Foxes who will be breathing down their necks, but Liverpool too.
Michael Beale made three changes from the side that lost 3-1 at Leicester on Monday evening, with Corey Whelan, Dan Trickett-Smith and Samed Yesil replacing Pedro Chirivella, Ovie Ejaria and Jerome Sinclair.
Etienne Capoue captained Spurs, and was joined by Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kenny McEvoy and two players who have made their first team bows this season: Josh Onomah and Harry Winks.
It took the Reds, who required no settling in time, just four minutes to break the deadlock. Spurs goalkeeper Luke McGee attempted to play out from the back, but his mishit pass found its way to Ryan Kent, who kept his composure well to fire Liverpool into the lead.
A similar chance went begging at the other end three minutes later. Sam Hart’s slip let Kenny McEvoy in, but the Spurs winger fired over with the goal at his mercy.
Capoue, at times wasteful in possession, blasted one over from the edge of the box, but Ehiogu’s side struggled to create clear chances against a resolute Reds defence.
On 27 minutes, Liverpool’s lead was doubled. Goalscorer Kent turned provider, as he carried the ball into the area and fed Yesil who struck it left-footed through a number of bodies into the bottom corner.
It could have been three before the break. Sergi Canos, having galloped down the right wing, sent a low cross into the box which Kent tried to bundle home but it was deflected narrowly over.
Just as they did in the first half, Liverpool began the second period with a bang. Yesil showed great predatory instinct to claim a loose ball in the penalty area, and slam it past McGee to put the result beyond doubt.
Canos, who troubled Tottenham on numerous occasions, almost orchestrated a fourth midway through the second half but his awkward cross was rather fortuitously dealt with by the Spurs defence.
The hosts grabbed a foothold on 77 minutes when Miller’s header ricocheted off Liverpool captain Conor Randall and bounced in, but the Reds cruised through the remainder of the game, and could have gone 4-1 up through Kent late on.
Liverpool have a 13-day break before the mini Merseyside derby, which they will go into brimming with confidence after an impressive triumph.
Tottenham Hotspur: McGee, Walker-Peters, Ogilvie, Capoue (Lesniak 72), Maghoma, Carter-Vickers, McEvoy, Winks (Azzaoui 57), Harrison (Akindayini 57), Onomah, Miller. Unused substitutes: Miles, Amos
Goals: Miller 77
Liverpool: Vigouroux, Whelan, Hart, Randall, Cleary, O’Hanlan, Canos (Ejaria 87), Trickett-Smith (Pelosi 62), Yesil (Gomes 66), Kent, Wilson. Unused substitutes: Firth, Brewitt
Goals: Kent 4, Yesil 27, 49
Yellow cards: Cleary 45
Referee: Constantine Hatzidakis
Assistant Referees: Mark Greenwood, Alex Blake
Fourth Official: Scott Williams