Fernando Torres' late goal was not enough as Liverpool slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa.
The Spaniard's 72nd minute strike gave the hosts hope of securing a point after first-half goals from Lucas Leiva (og) and Curtis Davies had put Martin O'Neill's men in control.
But Ashley Young's penalty just three minutes later dashed any thoughts of a fight back as the visitors condemned the Reds to their second defeat in just three league games.
Rafael Benitez's men had gone into the Monday night clash hoping to build on their emphatic victory over Stoke City and the omens had looked good prior to kick-off when Martin Skrtel was passed fit to partner Jamie Carragher at the heart of the defence.
It was the only change to a side that had convincingly put the Potters to the sword and optimism was high that Liverpool would make it two wins out of two on home turf.
Indeed, it looked like Rafael Benitez's men would carry on from where they left off when Yossi Benayoun met Torres' clever clipped pass inside the opening 60 seconds, but the Israeli's flick header dropped just past the post.
Villa had arrived at Anfield on the back of two disappointing defeats and they rode their luck in the early exchanges as the home side probed for the opening goal.
It should have arrived on 14 minutes when Liverpool exposed the away side's defensive frailties, but only Friedel will know how he kept out Steven Gerrard's effort from point blank range following an almighty goalmouth scramble.
The Liverpool skipper has made a habit of finding the net against the Villans over the years and he came close to making it 10 league goals versus Martin O'Neill's men with a trademark shot that arced just over the top minutes later.
The home side looked the more threatening throughout an intriguing opening 45 minutes and Torres would have hoped to have done better in his attempt to send Gerrard clean through after Benayoun seized upon a mistake by Carlos Cuellar. Unfortunately for the Reds the Spaniard's through ball was deflected to safety by Davies.
Having looked the more likely the Reds may have felt hard done by not to have opened the scoring and they were even more frustrated on 34 minutes when the visitors snatched a shock lead.
Young sent a dangerous left-wing free-kick into the heart of the Liverpool area with Lucas unwittingly guiding a header beyond Pepe Reina and into the bottom left-hand corner of the Kop end net.
Liverpool surged forward looking to reply before the break and Villa were again grateful to Friedel for thwarting Torres after the Spaniard found space following a marauding run from Glen Johnson.
It was a save that would have a significant impact on the outcome of the match as the away side sprung forward on the stroke of half-time to grab an undeserved second.
Nicky Shorey's right-wing corner was arrowed towards the near post where Davies was on hand to touch a header beyond Reina.
It looked like being the archetypal smash and grab but the Reds weren't beaten yet and they made a strong start to the second period.
First, Friedel was on hand to deny a rasping shot from Gerrard before showing good reactions to claim Javier Mascherano's long range drive at the second attempt.
As the clock ticked down the pressure began to grow with the Villa stopper producing a succession of top drawer saves to deny Gerrard and Kuyt before the Dutchman saw his far post header crash back off the far post.
For all Liverpool's dominance, the away side remained a threat on the counter attack and on the hour mark they almost made it three; Nigel Reo-Coker inches away from turning home Gabriel Agbonlahor's teasing low centre.
With the Kop baying for a goal the Reds continued to knock on the door and on 72 minutes they finally got their reward when Torres steered into the roof of the net following a superb run and cross from Emiliano Insua.
It was all set for a grand finale, but before the Reds had a chance to muster an attack they were once again undone at the back.
A late challenge from Gerrard on Reo-Coker resulted in the referee pointing to the spot, with Young stepping up to coolly convert and wrap up the points for Villa.
19:01 GMT : Match Starts 1 min : Sidwell and Agbonlahor start proceedings 1 min : Almost a dream start as Torres dinks one over the Villa back four to Yossi, who with his back to goal heads just wide 2 mins : Torres finds Gerrard down the right...he skins Cuellar but the defender tugs his shirt...free-kick comes to nothing 3 mins : Skrtel shields Agbonlahor and Reina collects 8 mins : Skrtel goes to see the ball out of play for a goalkick, is fouled by Agbonlahor and the ref gives a corner... 9 mins : First Torres, then Yossi, then Gerrard denied in a goalmouth scramble ¿just wouldn't fall for the Reds 12 mins : First Booking: Ashley Young: Held Dirk back in a promising position 14 mins : Carra and Skrtel have switched sides 14 mins : Yossi, to Torres, to Dirk, to Gerrard...stabs it just over 16 mins : Martin Atkinson seems to be seeing things because Villa have another free-kick in a dangerous area after a 'push' from Insua 21 mins : Great intervention from Johnson...Liverpool looked exposed there 23 mins : Torres gets in elbow in the face but Martin hasn't got his glasses on this time 26 mins : Lucas is robbed in a decent position 33 mins : Villa starting to get a foothold in the game 34 mins : Own Goal! Lucas Leiva: Lucas heads Ashley Young's free-kick into his own net 38 mins : Torres snapshot saved by Friedel 45 mins : Brilliant double tackle by Carra...he looks really up for this now 45 mins : First Booking: Pepe Reina: Dissent after Atkinson gives a corner for no apparent reason 45 mins : GOAL! Curtis Davies: Davies heads home at the near post from resulting corner 19:48 GMT : Half Time Reached 20:05 GMT : Second Half Begins 46 mins : Gerrard and Torres get the second half up and running 47 mins : Good work from Johnson in the box...comes the Stevie...Friedel saves well 52 mins : Having seen the replays, it WAS a corner 53 mins : Johnson down the right...his back-post cross is flicked clear 54 mins : Torres crosses towards his partner in crime...there's a handball shout but Atkinson says no and there's no real protests 55 mins : Fernando wins a free-kick near the corner flag 56 mins : Gerrard cross is fisted clear for a corner 57 mins : First Booking: Nigel Reo-Coker: Kicking the ball away 57 mins : Dirk wins another corner and the Kop is finding its voice 58 mins : Great save to deny Dirk 58 mins : Carra skips past a man and once again it's a Kop end corner 59 mins : Denied at the back post....so close 66 mins : Substitution: Andriy Voronin for Lucas Leiva: 66 mins : Shouts for a pen but ref gives it the other way against Torres...it would have been harsh 68 mins : Skrtel passes to Carra when he's tying his laces...he might get told about that later! 69 mins : Gerrard tries one from 25 yards...palmed away by Friedel 70 mins : Brilliant persistance from Masch 70 mins : We need something soon 72 mins : GOAL! Fernando Torres: Insua cross sidefooted into the roof of the net 75 mins : Penalty Scored! Ashley Young: Gerrard brings Reo-Coker down and Young converts 76 mins : Substitution: Ryan Babel for Yossi Benayoun: 78 mins : Petrov gets one right in the nuts from a Gerrard shot 80 mins : Dirk obstructed....surely a pen??? 80 mins : Substitution: Emile Heskey for Ashley Young: 81 mins : Another great save from you know who 82 mins : Babel's cross it skewed agonisingly wide by Kuyt at the far post 84 mins : Carra played through by Voronin...oh, he's offside 88 mins : First Booking: Martin Skrtel: 89 mins : Corner... 89 mins : Masch cross reaches Torres...his header us tipped over by the excellent Friedel 90 mins : Johnson blasts one...blocked 20:54 GMT : Match Over