Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard converted a late penalty for a 3-2 win against third-placed Tottenham.
Spurs suffered their first league defeat of the year having taken a 2-1 lead in the second period, but a series of individual errors proved to be their undoing at Anfield.
Luis Suárez drew first blood with his 29th goal of the season - and 22nd in the top flight - only for centre-back Jan Vertonghen to score twice to put Spurs ahead.
However calamitous misjudgements by Kyle Walker and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris gifted Stewart Downing an equaliser.
The pace of the game went up a notch and Sturridge headed into the side-netting and Bale nodded wide before another dreadful backpass, this time by Jermain Defoe, forced Benoit Assou-Ekotto to barge into Suárez.
But it was Gerrard, so often Liverpool's big man for the big occasion, who stepped up to slot home his ninth of an increasingly profitable campaign.