Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Tuesday May 10 2011
Lat night was one of those nights you hope only happens once in a season, or even once in a decade.
On the back of two consecutive 3-0 wins, Fulham welcomed Liverpool to Craven Cottage hoping to push on and claim three wins to finish the season with the highest number of points they have ever done in the Premier League.
To freshen up the side Mark Hughes made three changes with Hangeland, Dempsey and Dembele returning. With the sun setting over the Thames, a full house was ready for Fulham to strut their stuff.
Unfortunately, despite it being us who got the match underway we found ourselves a goal down after a mere 31 seconds. Suarez found some space down the flank, his cross took a slight deflection off of Salcido, Kuyt forced a save out of Schwarzer but Maxi was there to ram the rebound home.
Any hopes Fulham had of getting straight back into the game were blown away with 6 minutes gone when Liverpool doubled their lead. Johnson flew down the right flank and his deep cross was hammered home by Maxi to leave Craven Cottage stunned.
If you thought matters couldn`t get any worse they did after 16 minutes when Kuyt added a third courtesy of a howler from Mark Schwarzer with the Australian international letting a shot from Kuyt slip past him at his near post. Even at this early stage there was no way back for Fulham.
Sadly, it looked as if Liverpool would score every time they pushed forward. Fulham only really woke up just past the half hour mark when a Baird cross almost found Dempsey but Johnson produced a smart defensive header. But respite was only temporary as Liverpool continued to look the more likely to score with Maxi blasting over when a hat-trick beckoned.
Johnson, defending admirably, cleared a shot off the line from Dempsey and thwarted the home side again with a clearing header from a Murphy cross. Suarez, looking lively, saw a shot saved by Schwarzer and as half time approached Reina was forced to save from a Sidwell header.
Not the first forty-five minutes we had anticipated!
The second half started with Fulham forcing a free kick but from Murphy`s cross Zamora, on as a substitute, saw his header blocked. Another move saw Dempsey fire over before, just before the hour mark, Fulham reduced the arrears courtesy of a goal from Dembele.
The goal came after Baird found Zamora who then provided the perfect assist for Dembele to find the bottom corner of the net. The goal gave Fulham some momentum and the home side really should have done better from a free kick but Zamora slammed his effort into the defensive wall.
Brief hopes of a Fulham comeback were ended when Maxi wrapped up his hat-trick to make it 4-1 with probably the best goal of the night so far. With nothing appearing to be on he collected the ball, moved inside and hit a shot that deceived Schwarzer to make the net ripple.
With the game done and dusted, Suarez finally got on the score-sheet to make it 5-1 to the visitors when he jigged past Schwarzer, following a good ball from Shelvey, before slipping the ball home.
On the wrong end of a thrashing, some of the home support were drifting away and would have missed a fine goal by Sidwell. The midfielder produced some smart control with his chest; to bring the ball down, before hitting a great strike past Reina.
A game full of action but most of it at the wrong end of the pitch and those dreams of finishing on 54 points, our highest ever points total, remains just that - a dream.
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Date:Tuesday May 10 2011
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