Liverpool’s mini-revival came to a crashing halt with a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest, who secured just their second Premier League win for 23 years thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi’s goal.
Awoniyi spent six years as a Liverpool player without ever making an appearance as he was farmed out on a series of loan spells, but came back to haunt his former club and move his current employers off the bottom of the table.
Liverpool were without the firepower of the injured Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz and it showed as they lacked the spark needed to unlock a deep-lying Forest defence.
The Reds have now already lost more league games in the first 11 matches than in the whole of last season when they lost out on the title to Manchester City by just a point.
Victory over City last weekend, followed by another 1-0 win against West Ham in midweek had seemingly given Jurgen Klopp’s men lift-off after a slow start to the campaign.
But with Thiago Alcantara also missing due to illness, they did not have enough in reserve even to see off a side without a win since August.
Forest have stayed patient with manager Steve Cooper, even handing the former Swansea boss a new contract, as he tries to bed in a record 23 new signings in one transfer window for a Premier League team.
The two-time European champions are slowly beginning to see some return on that investment after also withstanding a bombardment from Brighton to draw 0-0 at the Amex midweek.
Klopp made five changes in all from Liverpool’s win over West Ham on Wednesday midweek and it showed in a disjointed first half performance as Liverpool struggled to make over 70 percent possession tell in terms of chances.
The visitors’ best opportunity to break the deadlock before half-time came from a corner when Virgil van Dijk inexplicably tried to head the ball in the direction of Roberto Firmino rather than go for goal himself from close range with a free header.
Ten minutes into the second period it was Forest who struck from a set piece as Ryan Yates’ initial effort came back off the post and Awoniyi was perfectly placed to tap into an unguarded net.
Set-pieces remained Liverpool’s best route to a goal as Firmino headed wide from a corner before Van Dijk’s effort from a Trent-Alexander Arnold free-kick was well saved by Dean Henderson.
At the other end, Alisson Becker kept Liverpool in the game with saves from Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White as Forest had plenty of chances to kill the game off on the counter-attack.
But Forest held out to the delight of a packed house at the City Ground to move within one point of moving out of the bottom three.
A third league defeat of the season leaves Liverpool still in seventh, 11 points adrift of leaders Arsenal having played a game more.