With Tottenham dropping two points at Crystal Palace, Liverpool travelled to Fulham able to reclaim top spot, only to slip to a 1-1 draw with the relegation candidates.
Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
Premier League (12), Craven Cottage
December 13, 2020
Salah pen 79′
The Reds arrived at Craven Cottage buoyed by the return of Alisson to the starting lineup and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the squad, but dealt a blow with new long-term layoffs for Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas.
In a long and in many ways tiresome season, the two constants for Liverpool have been absences and VAR, and an almost three-minute delay saw Andre Marriner eventually stick with the decision to deny Fulham a penalty for Fabinho‘s tackle.
Fulham were the more lively of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, with a fit-again Alisson proving why he came straight back in despite Caoimhin Kelleher‘s form as he made a string of vital stops.
Alisson could do nothing to keep out a powerful drive from Bobby Decordova-Reid on the 25-minute mark, as Fulham caught the Reds trying to counter and the forward blasted in for a deserved lead.
There were signs of Liverpool growing into the game, with Curtis Jones looking sharp in midfield and Jordan Henderson improving as the half went on, but overall it was a dire half for the Premier League champions.
HT: Fulham 1-0 Liverpool
- Alisson returns and keeps Liverpool in first half despite Reid opener
- Matip suffers back injury, following pre-match Jota and Tsimikas blow
- Hendo partners Fabinho with no natural centre-backs on the pitch
- Salah fires in equalising penalty as questionable handball law favours Reds
- Liverpool miss opportunity to leapfrog Tottenham after draw vs. Palace
Klopp was clearly not pleased at the break, and made a leftfield decision to withdraw a predictably injured Joel Matip and send on Takumi Minamino, with Henderson dropping into centre-back alongside fellow midfielder Fabinho.
The change put the Reds on the front foot, and both Jones and Mohamed Salah tested Alphonse Areola from range as space began to open up ahead of Fulham‘s defence.
A huge chance came on the hour mark as Minamino’s perseverance helped Henderson through for a one-on-one with Areola, but the captain – who was continually high up the pitch despite his nominal role – was unable to find the back of the net with his weak foot.
The Reds were handed a lifeline, though, as Jones forced a free-kick and Gini Wijnaldum‘s delivery struck the arm of Aboubakar Kamara, with Salah stepping up to convert a soft penalty.
Jones then came close to scoring a Goal of the Season contender, only for his mazy run and shot to nestle into the palms of Areola as it headed towards the bottom corner, ensuring the final score remained 1-1.
TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones
Referee: Andre Marriner
Fulham: Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Anguissa, Lemina (Reed 80′), Loftus-Cheek (Kamara 74′); Decordova-Reid, Lookman (Bryan 88′), Cavaleiro
Subs not used: Rodak, Reim, Cairney, Kebano
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (N.Williams 69′), Fabinho, Matip (Minamino 46′), Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah (Origi 84′), Mane, Firmino
Subs not used: Kelleher, Phillips, Cain, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Next Match: Tottenham (H) – Premier League – Wednesday, December 16, 8pm (GMT)