As it happened: Liverpool survive scare against Fulham to return top

As it happened: Liverpool survive scare against Fulham to return top

Matchday live text commentary blog from Craven Cottage as Fulham face Liverpool in the Premier League, Oliver Miller reports

Oliver Miller
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So that's all for a our live coverage of Fulham - Liverpool. Make sure that you check out all of VAVEL's post match content on the homepage which will be coming soon.
Post-match Reaction III

"We started really well, and did a lot of good things but lost the rhythm a bit. I am not the most experienced manager and I have similar problems after Champions League games."

"First half a bit rusty. Second half we could have finished it off and then it is clear at 1-0 if you don't kill it off that can happen. Babel was there that is how football is. They deserved a goal but we deserved three points. A brilliant afternoon I have to say."

"I am not in any doubt about my players nerves. It is about intensity. We go for perfection but it is rare that you get it. Burnley, Munich, Fulham - you have to adapt. People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end."

Post-match Reaction II

"Obviously I respect my old club. I still support them as a fan so of course I showed them respect."

"I tried to gamble. I didn't expect the keeper not to get the ball. It was a little bit lucky. All we can do is keep fighting until the last game."

Post-match Reaction I

"The gaffer told me to come on and calm it down and the first thing I do is slice it and put Virgil under pressure which wasn't ideal..."

"The goal was important to put away. You have to go back to what you practise, be calm and do what you do."

Van Dijk:

"I am not giving excuses. I should have handled it better. They scored but so did we and we have three points and move back to the top of the table."

"We knew it would be tough. We made it difficult for ourselves. We weren't calm on the ball. We got the three points though and we can now focus on the national teams."

Full Time Analysis
One step closer. They almost slipped up but Liverpool return to the top of the table thanks to that late Milner penalty. A win is a win, but this one will feel greater than most. They were so close to crashing out of the title race that the overriding emotion will surely be relief.

The first half was one-sided to say the least, and when Mane scored the opened, one sensed that the second would swiftly follow. But credit to Fulham for withstanding and denying a somewhat blunt Liverpool attack.

Nevertheless, Liverpool were fully in control, irrespective of whether that was reflected in the scoreline. But one moment of misjudgement from the most unlikeliest of candidates gifted Babel and Fulham their equaliser. That would have been truly awful had that mix-up between Alisson and Van Dijk cost Liverpool the title. 

If Fulham were gifted their equaliser, then Liverpool were certainly let off when Rico brought down Mane in the area and Milner sealed victory from the spot. The celebrations told a story.

This was not all too impressive from Liverpool but we are beyond that now, it's results that matter. Fulham gave a lot but got so little. They were not up to Liverpool's quality for much of the encounter but did have their odd moment in the second half.







Full Time: Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Final whistle is blown. That was some win for Liverpool. They go back top having played an extra game but oh they certainly made it difficult for themselves.
90'+2 Liverpool Substitution
Sturridge is on from the bench for Salah, who hasn't been woeful but hasn't been great.
90'+1 Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Liverpool are keeping the ball now, pounding out this win. Salah is surrounded by three Fulham defenders in the area but still manages to get a pass to Mane. He though is tackled by Ream who keeps the ball clamped in between his legs momentarily. Liverpool will be happy with that, they just want the final whistle.
90' Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Three minutes of stoppage time are to played at the end of this half.
89' Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Mitrovic is down injured, I'm not too sure how.
87' Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Mane breaks and charges fantastically up-field. Salah arrives in support and is laid off but his shot is too close to the out-rushing Rico who manages to save. That was half good goalkeeping and half poor shooting. Still no Salah goal, though.
84' Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Goodness me, that was some five minutes. The emotion in the stadium was immense as that played out. Wijnaldum has just shot from far out and it was not too far wide of the post. That would have been a goal to send the visiting supporters wild, or even more so than they are now.
82' Fulham 1-2 Liverpool


81' Fulham Substitution
Cairney goes off for Kebano.
81' Goal! Fulham 1-2 Liverpool (Milner .p)
Yes they have! Milner cooly slots home and Liverpool lead again. That could well be their biggest goal of the season.
79' Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
Penalty to Liverpool! Salah shoots. Saved. And then Mane collects but is brought down by Rico who has really done so well today. Oh have Fulham shot themselves in the foot?
77' Fulham 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool are straight down the other end trying to score their second which should have come much sooner after their first. There may be a sense of panic in Liverpool's attacking for the final minutes here.
73' Fulham 1-1 Liverpool


74' Goal! Fulham 1-1 Liverpool (Babel)
And Fulham are more than it. They're level. It's 1-1, somehow and it comes from a Liverpool defensive error. What's one of those I hear you ask. Yes, they have been rare but Milner's poor clearance leads to Van Dijk ushering the ball back towards Alisson who doesn't come. The keeper falls to the ground but can't clear the ball, and it simply falls for Babel who is there to tap into an empty net. Possibly a season defining mistake. Liverpool's season is here on the line at Craven Cottage in the next quarter of an hour. They need to score otherwise it's over!
73' Fulham Substitution
Christie is on for Fosu-Mensah.
72' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
A fantastic leap by Mane enables him to reach Robertson's corner ball. His header glances the crossbar and means Fulham are still in it.
71' Liverpool Substitutions
Firmino is coming off for Origi and Lallana is heading off for Milner; two sensible changes by Klopp.
69' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Another inviting cross from Trent but again no one is able to apply a touch. Mane, Salah and Firmino have been quieter in these past 20 minutes or so. Maybe we should credit Fulham for withstanding, repelling and frustrating.
67' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
But that should serve as a warning to Liverpool, 0-1 is still only a slender lead and it should be more all considered. And Fulham are at it again, countering from a Liverpool corner. It was 3v1 at one stage as Babel leads the charge, Ayite sees a shot blocked but gets the rebound and shoots again. Alisson manages to dive and save the attempt. Panic stations there for Liverpool a bit.
65' Fulham Substitution
The first change of the game is a Fulham one, and it's Seri who makes way for Sessegnon.
64' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Another slack Firmino pass, not his first of the game, throws away Liverpool's carefully crafted build-up. And with that Fulham break and have the ball in the net but it's offside. Seri was in beyond the last defender when a chipped pass was sent into the area. It was a well-placed header though and Alisson couldn't reach it as it looped past him. Nevertheless, it does not count.
61' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
This is not a drill! Fulham have a corner. With the wind and the rain, anything could come from this. But instead they take it short. Why oh why oh why!?
60' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
The hail has returned. We have had all manner of weather this afternoon. Anyway, on the pitch, Liverpool are passing it around at the back, trying to prise Fulham out, slightly.
58' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Fulham have become much more compact now and are sitting very deep. That energetic and advanced approach of the early stages now feels like an eternity away. Goodness me! I've just realised that Mitrovic is playing. Has he just been sitting next to Alisson all game?
56' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
A deeper cross this time from Fabinho. Van Dijk heads but Rico prevents the ball from passing the goalline and more importantly ensures that it doesn't fall for the couple of Liverpool players rushing at goal. The visitors are certainly knocking on the Fulham door, it's a question of time.
52' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
A swinging corner-kick travels over the head of Matip who had he flew that bit higher would have been able to connect and most likely but the ball in at the back post. Liverpool have been sending in the crosses today, given the wind I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. That and the switches of play, have been a feature of their approach.
49' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
It has been noticeable how high Liverpool's full backs are playing today, probably the most advanced that I've seen them all season, and that's saying something. Alexander-Arnold again finds space on the right and dinks a ball to Mane at the back post who in turn lays off Robertson. But Chambers is able to close the Scot down and force the ball out of play.
48' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Alexander-Arnold lofts a cross from the far side high into the clouds, it was a shame because it came after a really effective piece of Liverpool play featuring a precise switch of play from Fabinho. That is what Liverpool will need to do more in the second half, try a and stretch the Fulham defence.
46' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
The hailstones have been battering down during the break. To be honest, they were probably the only white items which could have hindered Liverpool's performance in this second half.
Back underway
So the training session, sorry, second half has begun and as one could have guessed Liverpool are on the attack from the off.
Half Time Analysis
All going to plan so far, for Liverpool. Fulham would have hoped to keep them out a while longer, and build the frustration levels but a really smart move from Firmino and Mane, finished by the Senegalese, gives Klopp's side a deserved lead. 

Although the two teams are in the same league, they really are not. Quality-wise there is so much between them. One imagines that the second, deal-sealing goal will arrive in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Still, one never knows. Fulham have seemed a little more defensively resolute but not resolute enough to stop a team fighting for the title.

Half Time: Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
The first half has ended and Liverpool lead by a single goal at the break.
45'+1 Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Liverpool end the half on the front foot, which they have been on for more or less the entire first half - they've had 75 per cent possession.
45' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
There will just be one minute of stoppage time at the end of this half.
43' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Fosu-Mensah passes to Robertson (yes, they are on separate teams) and Liverpool's left back charges forward. A darting run from Lallana opens up more space, the ball is played to Firmino but his nonchalant pass forward into the box is heavy and not to anyone in particular. Goal-kick.
40' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Shouts echo around the Hammersmith End as Fabinho lunges in slightly awkwardly on Seri. It didn't look like a foul but having only just received a booking, he must be careful. This game is far from done and complacency/sloppiness can't creep into Liverpool's play.
38' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Yellow card for Fabinho, the first caution of the game for a silly foul on Cairney. Moments earlier Liverpool were almost through again as Anguissa got in a muddle and was dispossessed. Fortunately for the hosts, it came to nothing.
36' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Babel shows his speed as he glances down the left wing past Wijnaldum and Alexander-Arnold. He lays of Cairney just outside the Liverpool area, but the Fulham midfielder was leaning back and sent his effort skywards. Better still from the hosts.
35' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Robertson is easily getting beyond Fosu-Mensah on the far side. It really is no competition. The Liverpool full back approaches the near post and tries a snap shot from a tight angle but Rico, again, stops it.
33' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
32' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
Liverpool are once again showing great control to the play. The maturity of their performance has been striking, not only in recent weeks but also the entire season. Salah has just thumped a shot at goal but Rico repelled it.
29' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool
It will be difficult for Fulham to come back now, they will have wanted to have frustrated Liverpool and keep it goalless for as long as possible. Yet with a defence as leaky as their's, it was never going to be easy. Bryan sends a cross out of play for a goal-kick.
27' Fulham 0-1 Liverpool

26' Goal! Fulham 0-1 Liverpool (Mane)
Goal for the visitors! It's Mane, again! He is now up to 20 goals in all competitions this season, and just as I was questioning Liverpool's dithering in the box. Once again it was pretty direct build-up play by Liverpool who sliced open their opponents. Firmino played the cutback for Mane in the area and the one-swipe finish was too powerful to stop.
23' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool starting to play more directly now. Alexander-Arnold plays a lovely incisive ball forward to Firmino who runs and releases Lallana. Though yet again Liverpool are lacking something in the penalty area, he dithers and is tackled.
20' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Two good pieces of defending there by Ream and Bryan. Firstly Salah drove to the byline and tried to come inside but Ream did well to slide in and concede the corner. Then Salah again was in a wide area and three Fulham defenders quickly close him down, but as he looked to pass inside, Bryan got a toe in and came away with the ball. 
19' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Van Dijk headed so devastatingly in the week to double Liverpool's lead in Munich and he almost got the first goal of the afternoon here. A corner-kick from the near corner was met by the colossal Dutchman but his header was wayward and travelled beyond the far post.
17' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Now a cross from the opposite side, this time provided by Robertson. He though opts to send it low and towards the near post. Mane collects but his touch isn't good enough and the ball goes out for a goal-kick. Possibly the sun played a part there, Mane has been shielding his eyes from the bright rays; it is now a lovely afternoon in west London.
14' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Alexander-Arnold whips an enticing cross into the Fulham area, but no players in red are eager enough to try to apply a telling touch. If anything the ball was just a little too close to goal and Rico was able to just guide the cross out of play.
11' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
From one Liverpool full back to another and the lovely switch of play takes the ball from one corner of the pitch to the opposite. Robertson controls and beats Fosu-Mensah but his shot/cross towards the front post is under-hit and Rico is able to easily gather. Robertson should have had a little more conviction there, but nevertheless it was good play.
09' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Seri takes aim from outside the area, he sends a curling shot just over the bar. He went for more placement than power there, but unfortunately for the hosts it wasn't precise enough.
06' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
Fulham have started confidently in these early stages. They are passing the ball around quite neatly and playing with high energy. Parker has clearly brought a sense of realism to the first team and is trying to bring more athleticism, power and pace to their play. This is Ayite's first league start, by the way, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on in midfield.
04' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
I did anticipate Lallana to start this match having performed so well last weekend against Burnley. His guile and creativity is what Liverpool have lacked when facing the lower teams in the league this season. His first meaningful touch here laid of Salah whose control in the area slightly let him down and the ball trickled out for a goal kick.
02' Fulham 0-0 Liverpool
The first long ball from Rico to Babel ends in a Liverpool throw in. The former reds striker will most definitely have the bit between his teeth today to show his old club what they could have had over the past 10 years. Perhaps that might only highlight why Liverpool sold him in the first place.
We're underway
Fulham get the ball rolling in this massive match for their visitors, they will be playing from left to right in red whilst Fulham will be in white and black, nothing really too surprising about that.
Five minutes to go
The players are gathering in the tunnel and will be led out by today's referee Craig Pawson in the coming moments.
Welcome back
It's bright but breezy on the banks of the river Thames this afternoon and we are now under an hour away from kickoff. First of all, the teams...

Fulham XI: Rico, Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Ream, Bryan, Anguish, Seri, Ayite, Cairney, Babel, Mitrovic.

Subs: Fabri, Sessegnon, Odoi, McDonald, Kebano, Vietto, Christie.

Liverpool XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Lallana, Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Milner, Moreno, Sturridge, Origi, Shaqiri.

For now, that's all
I'll leave the preview there and pick up the coverage about an hour prior to kickoff when starting lineups will be confirmed. 
Managers' words
Scott Parker:

"I believe we can stay up. I see the quality in this team, but I know and understand it will be very difficult. While there are still points available, it's possible."

"We have some very good footballers and we need to start getting the best out of them. The attitudes and standards are rising on a daily basis. They have a chance at the weekend to prove how good they are."

Jurgen Klopp: 

"It is just a very important game for us. We don't think about the situation in the table or whatever, we are only focused on our situation. But we know how difficult it is - we only have to take our game against Fulham at home: we need a genius moment from Ali, Trent and Mo to win that game."

"Fulham has a difficult season obviously, but since Scott [Parker] is in you can see the change, it is really kind of a breath of fresh air. They lost the two games against Chelsea, which is a difficult one for all teams in the league obviously, and Leicester with a new manager there. But they were pretty impressive."

"Now we have to make sure that we are really spot on from the first second and hopefully we can win that game."

Player Updates
Fulham have no new injury concerns and forward Andre Schurrle is training again after a virus.

Alfie Mawson is recovering from knee surgery and hopes to be back playing before the end of the season.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is out of the game because of an ankle injury sustained in the Champions League victory over Bayern Munich.

Naby Keita will be assessed after missing the trip to Germany with a minor injury.

Second from top in the Premier League table takes on second from bottom, surely there is only one way for this match to go.

However, such complacency should not enter the mind of Jurgen Klopp and his players. Having impressively taken care of business in Munich in the week, now Liverpool must look to do the same on the domestic front. With Manchester City not playing a league game this weekend, Liverpool can regain top spot and but the pressure on their title rivals.

Fine margins are seemingly going to grow in importance as the season reaches its climax and with Klopp's side having drawn three successive Premier League matches on the road of late, the last two of which have ended goalless, they will aim to but that kind of form to bed here.

In Fulham they face their perfect opponents; a leaky defence, a midfield that struggles to dominate matches and a strike force that can be hit and miss. Many deem Fulham relegated, and it is difficult to argue with that assertion given that they have lost their last half dozen matches, and nine in 10.

Nevertheless they will want to finish this season as well as they possibly can and caretaker boss Scott Parker will surely relish this opportunity, but may also be made to look slightly foolish if Liverpool play at their best. 

Welcome to our coverage
Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK's live text coverage of the Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool from Craven Cottage. 

I'm Oliver Miller and I'll be keeping you updated with the latest from the west London as Liverpool aim to regain top spot in the Premier League, albeit having played a game more than Manchester City. 

It is a 2:15pm kick-off on Sunday and you can bookmark this page to stay up to date with the latest updates and team news as the match approaches.