Liverpool 0 Fulham 1
After the disappointing performance at Everton on Saturday, Fulham showed that they can be resilient and secured a narrow win at Anfield last night to keep their hopes of a top eight finish well and truly alive.
Once again Martin Jol was absent having failed to recover form a chest infection leaving Billy McKinlay in charge. Jol`s assistant shuffled his pack slightly with Kelly returning in defence and Kacaniklic also coming in with Frei and Senderos omitted. Also in the Fulham eleven were two ex-Liverpool players in the shape of John Arne Riise and Danny Murphy, both of who were given a warm reception by the home crowd.
Kenny Dalglish, obviously with one eye on the FA Cup Final, against Chelsea, this Saturday made wholesale changes to the starting eleven that beat Norwich, at Carrow Road, comprehensively last Saturday with only two players remaining from that starting line-up.
Fulham got off to the best possible start when, with only five minutes on the clock, they went ahead. Clint Dempsey surged forward and laid the ball off for Riise and when his low cross came into a central area, Martin Skrtel diverted it past Doni and into the net.
The early goal settled Fulham and there were chances to add to it. One move involving Dempsey saw Pavel Pogrebnyak force a save out of Doni when the Russian striker unleashed a volley.
Our hosts had started poorly and their first attempt at getting back on level terms saw Carrol`s shot blocked before Kuyt`s volley went well wide. Schwarzer almost let Liverpool get back into the game though hen he dropped a cross under pressure form Carroll and then fumbled an effort from Shelvey but Brede Hangeland flew to the rescue and cleared off the line.
Carroll, starting to cause problems for the Fulham defence, then laid a header into the path of Maxi but Fulham were relieved to see his header clear the bar. As half time approached Liverpool continued to attack, Maxi cleared the bar with another effort whilst Shelvey also managed to fire wide when presented with a half chance.
Dalglish made a change at half time introducing Downing and the home side continue dot search for an equalizer. Shelvey saw a volley fly over whilst an effort from Spearing fell invitingly for Schwarzer to make a comfortable save. Dempsey started to become more involved and one half-chance saw his header go the wrong side of Doni`s post.
Jol made a change bringing off the former Liverpool youngster Alex Kacaniklic as time began to run down for Liverpool and bringing on Karim Frei. Maxi thought he`d escaped the clutches of the Fulham defence but Hangeland had other ideas and a superb tackle ended what, for Liverpool, was looking like a dangerous move.
Fulham almost put the game out of Liverpool`s reach when Frei danced through a challenge and saw his curling shot rebound to safety off of the post. Dempsey was the next to almost double the lead when he was played in by a sublime ball from Frei but his effort was too telegraphed and Doni got down to make a save.
As the final whistle beckoned Riise tried for a moment of Anfield glory but his free kick was way off target but, courtesy of that own goal, Fulham had all three points and could reflect on a good nights work.
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