Last Updated: 12/05/13 4:54pm
The referee blows his whistle for the final time this afternoon, and it's Liverpool who emerge victorious from this one as Daniel Sturridge proves the differnce on the day as his hat-trick leads the Reds to a 3-1 victory. The result means little in terms of the league standings, though, with Everton's win at West Ham leaving the Toffees five points clear of their Merseyside rivals with just one match remaining this season, meaning Liverpool are destined to finish below their neighbours for the second successive season. Fulham, meanwhile, could find themselves in a world of trouble heading into the last game of the campaign next weekend, depending what happens in Wigan's clash against Arsenal on Tuesday, with a win for the Latics set to leave them just two points behind the Cottagers. Well, I hope you've enjoyed it! I'm Ryan Gordon wishing you a great rest of your weekend. Cheers all!
Three minutes is the amount of time added on by the fourth official here at the end of a thoroughly entertaining match at Craven Cottage.
That is a quite wonderful goal, and it's a hat-trick for Daniel Sturridge! Philippe Coutinho is the architect, playing a sumptuous lob with the outside of his boot to play the England international through on goal, and he just manages to get to the ball ahead of the on-rushing Mark Schwarzer before clipping a brilliant effort over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
John Arne Riise's first touch of the ball is from a free-kick, which he absolutely hammers at goal, but Pepe Reina is well placed and gets down low to smother the danger.
Third and final change for Fulham now as Giorgos Karagounis makes way for former Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise, who receives a warm welcome from the travelling fans, who watched him play for seven years at Anfield before leaving in 2008.
Fulham are living on the edge now as Liverpool launch attack after attack, although Philippe Coutinho probably should have done better after breaking into the area from the wing, but he delays his cut-back and is eventually crowded out of possession.
Liverpool really should have wrapped this game up some time ago, and they twice come close to adding to their tally, but Sturridge's initial shot is well saved by Mark Schwarzer, while moments later Stewart Downing loses his marker in the area but eventually sees his square past deflected onto the post and out.
That would have been some introduction from Fabio Borini as he trots through on goal, cutting inside from out wide before unleashing a blistering drive, but he's desperately unlucky to see his shot cannon off the inside of the post and back out.
Philippe Coutinho hasn't been shy to shoot today, and he's at it again, letting fly from range, but his effort is deflected behind, while the corner is dealt with all too easily by the Fulham defence.
So close to a leveller now as Damian Duff's delivery is met perfectly by Brede Hangeland, but his header fizzes just the wrong side of Pepe Reina's far-post.
Jordan Henderson commits footballing hara kiri and passes the ball straight to Dimitar Berbatov on the edge of the Liverpool area, but his attempted through-ball to Damian Duff is cleared behind for a corner.
Sebastian Coates gives away a needless free-kick some 35 yards out, although Fulham opt to instead play it short, and they're immediately closed down and the chance to get something into the area is wasted.
Great chance for Liverpool to make it 3-1 now as Jonjo Shelvey controls a deep delivery at the far-post, but he slips at the vital moment to allow the defence to get back and just get a block in on his shot from close range.
A change for Fulham now as Alex Kacaniklic, who has worked his socks off, is brought off for Mladen Petric.
Oh dear! That is very greedy of Daniel Sturridge. He's on his hat-trick as he breaks clean through into the area from out wide, and although he's got two team-mates completely unmarked waiting for a simple pass to the far-post he tries to go for it himself, but the angle is too tight and Mark Schwarzer makes a routine save.
So close to a hat-trick for Daniel Sturridge now as he breaks into area from the same angle in which he just scored, but this time Mark Schwarzer is able to get down to make a really good save and deny the Reds striker.
Salt, wounds. Liverpool break up the other end, with Philippe Coutinho's deflected shot falling perfectly for Daniel Sturridge, who takes a touch before opening his body and smartly rolling his shot into the bottom corner of the goal.
His initial delivery is cleared by the defence but eventually finds its way back to him out wide, and the Fulham forward is desperately unlucky to not win his side a penalty after playing the ball against the arm of Lucas, but the referee appears to be blind-sided and waves away the furious appeals. Very fortune for the Reds there, and very unlucky for the Cottagers.
Sustained pressure from Fulham now as they look for options across the edge of the area, and Bryan Luiz eventually wins a corner as his rasping drive is deflected behind...
Glen Johnson shows he's no slob in possession either and runs from inside his own half, leaving three defenders in his wake before cutting the ball back right across the face of goal, but Brede Hangeland is quickest to react and hacks the ball clear.
Alex Kacaniklic looks well up for it in this half and goes on a mazy run through the heart of the Liverpool defence, but he eventually trips over his own feet and loses possession in the centre of the penalty area, while the loose ball rolls just out of reach of Dimitar Berbatov as the Reds are let off the hook.
Fulham break now through Alex Kacaniklic, who has the option to pick out the run of Dimitar Berbatov but opts to instead go for goal himself, and he's not too far off but drags his shot just wide of the up-right.
We'll have the first yellow card of the afternoon, with Glen Johnson going into the book for a very nasty, studs-up tackle on Eyong Enoh, and the England international is lucky to still be on the field as that was a very dangerous challenge indeed.
As is Steven Michael Brassell, who emails in: Again Ryan, not sure we are coping with the set pieces that Fulham are threatening Liverpool with, on such a small pitch. Hopefully at half-time Brendan will bring on a few subs with the likes of Enrique & Hermie on the bench who can cause real threat to anyone's defence! Final score 2-1 Liverpool
Chris Gurrell is back, and says: Liverpool have played well from what I've read/heard in the first half, with Fulhams Defense and Keeper keeping them in the game. I think taking off Shelvey for Borini and switching to maybe a 532/5212 wouldn't be a bad move and would give a chance for us to try out a new system.
Brilliant running from Daniel Sturridge now as he breaks from just inside the opposition half, dancing past three markers but eventually being forced wide, and after laying off to Stewart Downing his cross into the area is a poor one and won't trouble the goalkeeper.
Liverpool start the half brightly and win an early corner as Stewart Downing's delivery is blocked behind.
One change to tell you about at the break, with Liverpool bringing Jose Enrique on for Andre Wisdom.
The referee brings the first-half to a close with the scores level at 1-1. It's been a thoroughly entertaining affair at Craven Cottage so far, so join me after the break to see how this one finishes
The fourth official's board goes up and shows there will be two minutes of time added on in the first period.
The possession stats show now that Fulham have enjoyed a whopping 70% of the ball so far, although it's arguably Liverpool who have made the most of their possession, but there's only one statistic that really matters, and that's the scoreline, which is at 1-1 as we head into the final few moments of the first-half.
The resulting set-piece almost catches Liverpool out as Pepe Reina comes to collect but only flaps haplessly at the ball, but he's let off the hook as Dimitar Berbatov is just unable to get a touch on the loose ball.
The equaliser hasn't seemed to have knocked the confidence out of Fulham and they're still playing the ball around with confidence, and Dimitar Berbatov almost restores their lead as he chases Sascha Riether's delivery only to have it nipped off his toe and put behind for a corner.
Fulham's lead lasts all of three minutes, and it's a thumping hit from Daniel Sturridge as he breaks free of Aaron Hughes to get on the end of a long delivery, twisting this way and that in the area to shake off his marker before rifling his effort past Mark Schwarzer and bursting the roof of the net.
It's easy as you like from Dimitar Berbatov as he rises unmarked in the area to nod home Sascha Riether's pin-point delivery. Replays suggest the full-back was marginally off-side when he was played down the line, but the assistant's flag remained down and it's 1-0 to Fulham.
Bryan Ruiz whips in a lovely delivery but he's unable to pick out a team-mate, while Eyong Enoh's follow up hit is straight at Pepe Reina who makes a simple save.
Steward Downing is fortunate not to see yellow after he slides in on Damian Duff from behind, but the referee sees fit to just award a free-kick...
Fulham try work something at the other end now as Berbatov is slipped the ball on the edge of the area, but the striker is off-side and a promising move comes to an end.
Daniel Sturridge has really got to do better here! He's played in behind the defence and the flag stays down, and although the ball forces him into a tight angle, he gets his shot all wrong and rolls it across goal and away from the danger area.
Alex Kacaniklic is allowed to run at the heart of the Liverpool defence before putting a sublime ball across the six-yard area, but Dimitar Berbatov is caught napping and the goalkeeper can watch the ball roll harmlessly behind.
Liverpool break through Glen Johnson down the right, with the full-back eventually whipping a dangerous ball into the area, but it's just too far ahead of Coutinho as Mark Schwarzer is able to come and collect.
Excellent play from Fulham now as Alex Kacaniklic is played in behind the defence before breaking to the by-line, but his attempted pull-back to DImitar Berbatov is just cut out by some last-gasp defending.
Eyong Enoh looks for Dimitar Berbatov with a deep delivery to the far-post, but he gets a bit too much purchase on his cross and the Belgium is unable to bring the ball under control.
An early blow for Fulham now as Kieran Richardson's injury woes continue, with the player having to be substituted after picking up another knock, Urby Emanuelson the man to replace him.
Philippe Coutinho gets another sight of goal now, and he lets fly from the edge of the area, and although the ball is swerving all over the place it eventually comes straight at Mark Schwarzer who is able to beat the effort away.
Sebastian Coates now produces almost a mirror image of Shelvey's run, this time on the right-hand side of the field, but he too is halted by some good defending as Fulham keep it tight at the back.
Jonjo Shelvey goes on a storming run through the middle of the Fulham defence, skipping past three markers only to have the ball robbed off his toe following some excellent tracking back from Aaron Hughes.
Fulham win a free-kick halfway into the opposition half and close to the touch-line but Bryan Ruiz's delivery is overcooked and bounces harmlessly behind for a goal-kick.
Liverpool are seeing plenty of the ball, although they're not doing too much with it, although a ball into the area from Stewart Downing causes some confusion, with the ball eventually being played behind for a corner.
Philippe Coutinho has a pop at goal, but it's straight at Schwarzer who makes his first contribution to the game with a simple save.
Daniel Sturridge tries to work something down the left for Liverpool, but he's eventually forced to go backwards and Fulham close down any potential avenues.
A few moments later and the Cottagers get their second corner, Damian Duff again delivering, and although he manages to clear the first man, he can't find a team-mate and Pepe Reina is out to pluck the ball out of the air.
After 52 seconds, Fulham win the first corner of the game, but Damian Duff's delivery is a poor one and Jonjo Shelvey can easily clear at the near-post.
And here they come, cheered on by a packed Craven Cottage as both sides look for as strong a finish to the campaign as possible.
The two sets of players are lined up in the tunnel and will be led out by referee Mark Halsey momentarily.
Steven Michael Brassell says: Hi Ryan, I'm a died hard Liverpudlian & we need this victory today stating that we don't just rely on the likes of Suarez & Gerrard. Today should be at least 2-0 with Coutinho (Our Messi) getting the 1st & a surprise goal from Lucas to get us all 3 points. Henderson hopefully staring on the bench!!
Adam O'Connor writes: Cant see Liverpool winning this one, Fulham too strong at home & due a win, 3-1 to the Cottagers.
Adam, living in Hanoi, also says: Carragher's last two games in a red shirt will be inspiration for liverpool to get a result 2 - 0 reds..sturridge with 2.
We've got our first caller of the day, with Chris Gurrell emailing in: No Stevie, Agger or Suarez for us today Ryan, probably for the best that Agger and Stevie aren't playing, having treatment now for injuries so they're ready for next season. Not much for us to play for today as Everton are too far away now but a win is always good to get especially away from home. Not looking for a 5-2 repeat but I can see Liverpool winning maybe 2-1 or 3-1 today with Sturridge and possibly borini getting goals.
For Fulham, Martin Jol must do without the suspended Steve Sidwell, as well as injured trio Mahamadou Diarra (knee), Ashkan Dejagah (ankle) and Simon Davies (hip), but Mladen Petric returns from a hamstring injury, albeit on the bench.
So, the stand-out absence in the Liverpool squad is that of Steven Gerrard, the Reds captain having undergone shoulder surgery this weekend, ruling him out of the side's final two games of the season. Also missing is Daniel Agger, who will undergo a series of injections in his back as part of a long-planned rehabilitation programme. Joe Allen is also out after having the same surgery as Gerrard, while obviously there is no Luis Suarez as he serves his 10-match ban
Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Richardson, Duff, Karagounis, Enoh, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Berbatov Subs: Etheridge, Riise, Senderos, Petric, Frimpong, Rodallega, Emanuelson
Liverpool: Reina, Wisdom, Coates, Carragher, Johnson, Henderson, Lucas, Shelvey, Downing, Sturridge, Coutinho Subs: Brad Jones, Jose Enrique, Assaidi, Borini, Suso, Coady, Lloyd Jones
The team sheets have just come across my desk, but why not first take the time to get involved by emailing your thoughts or predictions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share them here with our other readers.
Few would argue that there's value in a goalless draw at 14/1 but Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov has arguably been one of the signings of the season and did score a hat-trick against Liverpool in his Manchester United days, which is an 80/1 shot this time around.
Fulham, meanwhile, need only a point to all but secure their top-flight status, with the Cottagers currently 12th on the table, five points ahead of the final relegation spot and with a vastly superior goal-difference over 18th-placed Wigan. Martin Jol's side have, however, lost all four of their games since reaching the magic 40-point mark in April, while they have also taken just one point from of their last six outings.
It has been a largely uninspiring campaign for Liverpool, who find themselves seventh in the Premier League standings and out of the running for a top-five finish and a place in next season's Europa League. To make matters worse, they also sit below bitter rivals Everton, who are five points better off in sixth with just two games remaining this season.