Kenny Dalglish admitted Liverpool were made to pay for a slow start as Tottenham Hotspur dented their European aspirations with a 2-0 victory at Anfield on Sunday.

A volley from Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric's penalty secured the points for Spurs to ensure the race for Europa League qualification will go right to the wire.

In order to finish fifth, the Reds must now better Tottenham's result against Birmingham when Dalglish takes his charges to Aston Villa next Sunday.

"I think they started better than we did, scored a goal and we didn't start to play for 25-30 minutes," the boss told his post-match press conference.

"We started to look a bit better, but then at the start of the second half they got the second goal and that gave them a real foothold in the game.

"It was difficult for us to break them down. We didn't have enough on the day to break them down and penetrate their goal, but I don't think Pepe was overly busy either.

"We never played as well as we can play and that's a disappointment for the players because it would have been a fitting way for them to finish the last game of the season at Anfield for the efforts they've put in since January. But maybe it was too much of a fairytale.

"We're disappointed we never got the result because it would have been a fitting way to end."

He added: "We don't know why we didn't start as well as what we have done and are capable of, but I suppose like in everything else, you get days like that."

Click on the play button below to watch Kenny's post-match press conference

Tottenham were able to double their advantage in the early stages of the second half when they were awarded a penalty after referee Howard Webb had adjudged John Flanagan's shoulder charge on Steven Pienaar to be a foul.

Dalglish preferred to keep his own counsel on the incident when questioned by journalists, admitting he'd rather look at the performance of his own side.

He said: "It's just unhelpful to everybody we can't express our true thoughts and it's even more disappointing that the officials get away scot free without coming in to explain their decisions as well.

"I think it's safer for me to leave it at that and get on with the next question.

"It's not a race for fifth place in my mind, it's just disappointment there at the performance.

"You can have refereeing mistakes but you cannot legislate for that - we can only look after ourselves. We could have been a greater help to ourselves if we had started the game better than we did."

Meanwhile, reporters quizzed Dalglish on how Andy Carroll's return to the starting XI had impacted upon his side's approach to the game.

An injury to Raul Meireles meant the No.9 was restored to the team having missed Monday's win over Fulham with bruising.

Dalglish replied: "Whoever is going to play, it doesn't affect anybody's approach or attitude to the game - you go into the game, you start nice and sharp and on you go.

"He hasn't trained as much as he or we would have liked. We were forced into playing him a wee bit because David Ngog had only had 45 minutes in a reserve game, so it was either him or Andy. For Andy to last as long as he did was more than we expected.

"I don't think a change in the way you play should contribute to changes in attitude and approach to the game. We never approached it well enough in the first half and paid the price for that."

As it was the final home game of 2010-11, Dalglish led the Liverpool squad and staff on the traditional post-game lap of honour.

The Kop afforded them a rapturous reception despite the disappointment at the result.

"We feel as though we've short-changed them by not getting the result," said Dalglish.

"That's the disappointing thing. The appreciation will always be here for their support, so sometimes it's nice to reward that with a victory and it was unfortunate we couldn't do that today."

Click on the play button below to watch the lap of honour

Pics & video: Reds thank the fans