Pre Match Team News
9 changes from the Chelsea win, with the same back four which played at Portsmouth last week coming back in. Harry Kewell is on the bench and Fowler starts alongside Bellamy up front again.
Liverpool suffered their 9th away defeat of the season despite having a number of chances, but Clint Dempsey’s goal proved vital – despite it being arguably offside. The sour note being Michael Brown’s elbow and headbutt on Alonso in the first half.
Match Report (BBC Sport)
Clint Dempsey’s first goal for Fulham secured a narrow win over Liverpool to ease their relegation worries.
Liverpool should have been ahead by the time substitute Dempsey sidefooted the ball past Jose Reina on 68 minutes.
Three times Antti Niemi was tested by Craig Bellamy and three times the Fulham keeper denied the Welshman.
Robbie Fowler missed an open goal for Liverpool, while Vincenzo Montella hit the post for Fulham, who had Papa Bouba Diop red-carded after a second booking.
This was Fulham’s first victory in 11 league games as well as the first time they had won under caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez.
Along with Jermain Pennant, goalkeeper Jose Reina was the other player not be rested and the Spaniard, who saved two penalties in Tuesday’s shootout, kept Fulham at bay until Dempsey’s goal.
He athletically punched clear Brian McBride’s cross in the first half and after the break frustrated the American for a second time when he got to the ball before the Fulham striker.
But there was nothing Reina could do to stop Dempsey’s shot.
The American started and finished the move for Fulham’s goal, dissecting Liverpool’s defence with a one-two with Liam Rosenior, before sweeping the ball past Reina.
This was Liverpool’s ninth league loss on their travels this season and their inability to take advantage of a number of chances was key to their defeat.
The majority of those chances fell to Bellamy, who early on twice forced saves from Antti Niemi.
It was not long before Bellamy was in the box again, though this time he was unable to shoot, after he was tackled by Bouba Diop.
Having survived those scares, Fulham began to show some attacking intent, with Montella’s acrobatic bicycle kick striking the post after it deflected off Xabi Alonso.
Moments Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder had to go off for a treatment for a bloody nose after he was headbutted by Michael Brown, an infringement that went unpunished as referee Steve Bennett was looking the other way.
Towards the end of the first-half Bellamy troubled the Fulham defence twice more, flashing a shot past the post and sending over a dangerous cross that was diligently cleared by Zat Knight.
Bellamy’s striking partner Fowler should have then given Liverpool the lead, but he somehow failed to steer the ball home with the goal at his mercy.
If Liverpool probably had the better of the first-half, that was never the case after the break, particularly following Dempsey’s introduction, whose strong running began to unsettle the visitors’ defence.
Even so Liverpool continued to create chances, Niemi once more denying Bellamy with an reaction save, while substitute Harry Kewell – making his first appearance for since the 2006 FA Cup final – flashed a shot past the post.
Bouba Diop was dismissed after he collected a second booking, but Fulham held on to secure three priceless points.
Things we learnt from this match:
Teams and Facts
Fulham: Niemi, Bocanegra, Knight, Christanval, Rosenior, Radzinski, Diop, Brown, Davies, McBride, Montella (Dempsey)
Subs unused: Routledge, Lastuvka
Sent Off: Diop (90)
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Paletta, Insua (Finnan), Pennant (El Zhar), Alonso, Sissoko, Gonzalez (Kewell), Fowler, Bellamy
Subs unused: Padelli, Hobbs
Referee: Steve Bennett
Today’s Other Results
Charlton (h) Sunday May 13th