Fulham 1-2 Liverpool: Sadio Mane and James Milner send Reds top with nervy win
Highlights and report as Liverpool go top by two points above Man City, who have a game in hand
By Gerard Brand at Craven Cottage
Last Updated: 17/03/19 10:52pm
James Milner's late penalty moved Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League with a nervy 2-1 win at Fulham on Super Sunday.
Title challengers Manchester City were in FA Cup action on Saturday and now have a game in hand, but Liverpool took advantage as Sadio Mane finished off (26) for his 20th of the campaign after a fine move involving Roberto Firmino.
After Alisson clumsily failed to fully reach a weak Virgil van Dijk header back, former Liverpool man Ryan Babel nipped in and turned the ball into an empty net (74) to stun the visitors, but they were back in front shortly after as Milner scored from 12 yards (80) following Sergio Rico's tug on Mane.
The result means Liverpool are two points clear at the top of the Premier League, but second-place Manchester City have played one game less. Fulham have lost their last seven and remain 19th.
Fulham: Rico (5), Fosu-Mensah (6), Chambers (6), Ream (6), Bryan (6), Seri (5), Anguissa (6), Babel (6), Cairney (6), Ayite (5), Mitrovic (6)
Subs: Sessegnon (6), Christie (5), Kebano (NA)
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Van Dijk (6), Matip (7), Robertson (7), Fabinho (7), Wijnaldum (7), Lallana (6), Mane (8), Firmino (7), Salah (6)
Subs: Milner (7), Origi (6), Sturridge (NA)
Man of the match: Sadio Mane
Despite looking resolute early on, Fulham were undone by a fine Reds move. Starting and finishing it, Mane galloped into the box on the left, slipping in Firmino at the byline before latching onto his cut-back to turn home from nine yards for his seventh goal in five games.
Andrew Robertson then stung the hands of Rico from a tight angle after a one-two with Adam Lallana, as Fulham struggled to deal with Liverpool's threat down the left.
Liverpool continued to dominate after the break as Van Dijk forced a fine save from Rico after heading a Fabinho ball back across goal, but Fulham began to create anxiety for Jurgen Klopp as Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's long-range volley was well held by Alisson.
Liverpool made two changes from the midweek win in Munich as Lallana and Fabinho came in for Milner and Henderson, who was out injured.
Scott Parker made four changes after the defeat at Leicester as Fosu-Mensah, Seri, Anguissa and Ayite replaced Odoi, Sessegnon, McDonald and Nordtveit.
Mane was denied a second after his near-post header from a corner hit the top of the crossbar, before Liverpool gifted the hosts an equaliser via a horrible defensive mix-up.
Attempting to tidy up Milner's miscued clearance, Van Dijk's weak header back was awkward for Alisson, allowing Babel to steal in and then finish off into the empty net.
But Liverpool were back in front six minutes later as Rico clumsily dragged the shoulder of Mane after spilling a routine Mohamed Salah shot, allowing Milner to step up and slam straight down the middle.
Liverpool missed two chances to wrap it up late on as Rico stopped Salah's one-on-one effort and Gini Wijnaldum flashed just wide from range, but there was still a sigh of relief at full time as Klopp's side came through a tough second half.
Scott Parker: "Gutted, disappointed, mainly for the players really. I said before the day how hard everyone has been working this week. Even as slow as we were in the first half in the attacking third, I saw things which were part of what we want, and then certainly second half."
Jurgen Klopp: "We go for perfection but it is rare that you get it. People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end. They are cool enough. On our day we are a flying team, that's all there, but the consistency is rare."
Man of the match - Sadio Mane
Luckily for Liverpool, while Mohamed Salah struggles to make the impact he had last season, Mane is on fire. He's scored seven in his last five, and looks the sharpest of Klopp's front three going into the final two months of the season.
Mane is the key man now
As Mohamed Salah's form has dipped, Sadio Mane has stepped up for Liverpool when it mattered most, writes Adam Bate.
- Liverpool have extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 10 matches (W6 D4 L0) and went back to the top of the Premier League for the first time since March 1st.
- Fulham have now lost 25 of their last 26 Premier League matches against the 'big six' (W0 D1 L25), losing all 11 this season.
- Liverpool's James Milner extended his Premier League record of never losing a game in which he's scored - it now stands at 51 games (W40 D11 L0).
|Distance (player)||Anguissa (11.6km)||Wijnaldum (11km)|
- Ryan Babel became the first player to have previously played for Liverpool in the Premier League to score against them in the competition since Christian Benteke in April 2017.
- Sadio Mane has scored nine Premier League goals in 2019 for Liverpool - the joint-most in the competition along with Sergio Aguero.
- Roberto Firmino's last seven Premier League assists for Liverpool have been for either Mohamed Salah (four) or Sadio Mane (three).
Fulham now host Manchester City on Saturday, March 30 at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League, while Liverpool host Tottenham the following day on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4.30pm.