Tottenham Hotspur sank to a third successive Premier League defeat as first-half goals by Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker gave Wolverhampton Wanderers a 2-0 away win to lift them into seventh place on Sunday.
After losing 3-2 at home to Southampton in midweek, Tottenham desperately needed a response to boost their top-four ambitions, but defensive errors cost them dear.
Jimenez volleyed in after six minutes following a mistake by Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris and the French World Cup winner hardly covered himself in glory when Dendoncker doubled Wolves’ lead 12 minutes later.
Lloris redeemed himself a little to prevent Wolves adding to their advantage before the break but Tottenham left the pitch at halftime to boos on a rain-sodden north London afternoon.
Tottenham improved in the second half but the closest they came was a deflected Harry Winks shot against the post.
Wolves were comfortable though and leapfrogged Tottenham into seventh place with 37 points, only three behind fourth-placed West Ham United who play at Leicester City later.
Tottenham slip to eighth with 36 points.
When the Premier League resumed this week after a short winter interlude, Tottenham looked well-placed to challenge for a top-four finish as they have games in hand of their rivals.
Antonio Conte was undefeated in his first nine league games as Tottenham manager having taken charge in November, but the optimism that run induced is fading fast.
“We created many chances to score and we had the possession but for sure it is very difficult to explain the way we started -- I think the two goals are very difficult to comment,” Conte said. “In the end we are talking about another defeat.”
It is the first time Conte has lost three league games in a row since his days managing Atalanta in November 2009.
Bruno Lage’s rock solid Wolves, on the other hand, look capable of making a bid for European qualification and their travelling fans will be dreaming of a top-four spot.
“The first 45 minutes we played very well and created a lot of chances,” Lage said. “They had one or two chances in the second half but we controlled the game.”
Conte made three changes to the side that lost to Southampton with Rodrigo Bentancur coming in for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and wings backs Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon coming in for Emerson Royal and Sergio Reguilon.
But defensively Tottenham were a shambles again.
Lloris initially did well to save a Ruben Neves shot but he then flimsily punched out Dendoncker’s follow-up straight to Jimenez who volleyed the ball back into the net with Tottenham’s defenders failing to react.
Son Heung-min wasted a one-on-one to level and almost immediately after that Wolves doubled their lead.
Lloris played a terrible pass to Ben Davies whose clearance went straight to a Wolves player and when the ball was played to Daniel Podence his deflected shot hit the post and in the ensuing scramble Dendoncker bundled in.
Sessegnon was substituted before halftime and replaced by Dejan Kulusevski but Spurs kept making mistakes -- one poor pass by Winks ending with Podence forcing a fine save by Lloris.
Harry Kane was denied by Wolves keeper Jose Sa after the break as Tottenham pressed and Winks was denied by the post but the hosts could not breach a Wolves defence that has conceded only 17 goals in 23 league games.