Report as Fulham give their returning 2,000 fans plenty to cheer with a brilliant first-half performance and battling second-half display to hold Liverpool to a 1-1 draw in the Premier League
Monday 14 December 2020 06:18, UK
Liverpool missed the chance to go top of the Premier League despite recovering from a woeful first half against Fulham to salvage a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.
A draw for Premier League leaders Tottenham at Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday had opened the door for Liverpool but they were caught cold by Scott Parker's side, who were roared on by their returning 2,000 supporters and deservedly led through Bobby Decordova-Reid's blast on 25 minutes.
Fit-again Alisson kept Liverpool in it during a wretched opening half from the visitors and Jurgen Klopp's side battled back after the break, with Mohamed Salah forcing home a penalty on 79 minutes.
Despite having almost 79 per cent of possession in that second half, Liverpool couldn't find a second, though, and are now without a win away from home in five Premier League games.
They will have another chance to go top of the table when they face Tottenham at Anfield in a mouth-watering clash on Wednesday. Fulham, meanwhile, can take positives from their performance, although Burnley's win at Arsenal later on Sunday means they drop to 18th.
Fulham: Areola (8), Andersen (8), Adarabioyo (7), Aina (7), Lemina (7), Anguissa (7), Robinson (7), Reid (9), Loftus-Cheek (7), Cavaleiro (8), Lookman (8).
Subs: Kamara (5), Reed (n/a), Bryan (n/a)
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (6), Fabinho (5), Matip (5), Robertson (5), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (6), Jones (7), Salah (7), Mane (6), Firmino (5).
Subs: Minamino (6), Williams (6), Origi (n/a)
Man of the match: Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham)
The Fulham supporters were back at Craven Cottage for the first time since February, when they beat Preston in the Championship, and they saw their side make a fast start, with Mario Lemina lashing a left-foot shot wide before Ivan Cavaleiro twice drew good stops from fit-again Alisson.
The lively Cavaleiro then forced Fabinho into a risky tackle in his own box, which led to a three-minute VAR check for a penalty before referee Andre Marriner eventually stuck by his original decision that there was no foul, after checking the pitchside monitor.
The call seemed a tough one on the hosts, with Fabinho appearing to go through Cavaleiro's boot to make contact with the ball - but it didn't halt Fulham's momentum.
Ademola Lookman drove another shot at goal, which Alisson parried around the post, and from the resulting corner Decordova-Reid picked up the ball on the edge of the box and fired into the back of the net.
Antonee Robinson pushed Salah in the back in the build-up but VAR judged there to be no foul - a decision Klopp disputed afterwards.
The goal ended Fabinho's run of 970 minutes without conceding an open-play goal at centre-back for Liverpool but that kind of statistic was far from Jurgen Klopp's mind as he screamed at his players from the touchline, beating his chest, and clearly furious with his team's slow start.
Klopp's outburst failed to have the desired effect, though, and Fulham should have had the ball in the net again on 30 minutes when Tosin Adarabioyo mis-hit a close-range shot at Alisson from a free-kick and the goalkeeper pushed the ball onto Andre-Frank Anguissa's head before seeing it loop over the bar - but an offside flag spared their blushes.
It took Liverpool - missing injured Diogo Jota - until four minutes before half-time to carve out their first real chance and Sadio Mane headed that wastefully over from Curtis Jones' cross. Salah then swivelled and shot wide from inside the box just before the end of a dismal first-half for Liverpool.
A back problem led to Joel Matip being replaced by Takumi Minamino at half-time, with Jordan Henderson dropping to centre-back, and Liverpool's defence was immediately exposed when play got underway, with Andy Robertson delaying his clearance in his own six-yard box and allowing Cavaleiro to shoot at Alisson from point-blank range.
That would be a rare opening for Fulham in the second half, though, with Liverpool pegging them back from then on. Salah shot straight at Alphonse Areola from distance, Jones tried his luck soon after, and Henderson was denied by a brilliant stop from the 'keeper on 62 minutes.
Adarabioyo headed over from a corner during a rare Fulham attack. It was a better chance than Liverpool were managing to craft at the other end but then on 78 minutes, Fulham sub Aboubakar Kamara gave them a way back into the game when he turned his back and raised his arms in the defensive wall and Gini Wijnaldum's free-kick hit him on his right arm.
Salah powered the penalty past Areola - who will have felt he could have kept it out after getting a hand to it - and grabbed the ball before rushing back to the halfway line in search of a winner.
Jones almost found one in superb style when he charged through the midfield before seeing his low shot saved by Areola.
But there was no second breakthrough for Klopp's side, with Fulham holding on for a deserved point.
Fulham boss Scott Parker: "I suppose you are a little bit disappointed but as I said to the lads, it shows how far we've come. The last three games, Leicester away we got a result, Man City, OK, and then today against a team - we all know their quality - I thought first half, we were excellent. Everything we worked on, to a man, players executed. We were top, top drawer.
"You probably need another one to go in really. The second half is always going to change around a little bit with the quality of player you're up against. There's no denying we had to swallow it up a bit second half. But we looked solid."
Asked about Fabinho's tackle on Cavaleiro and the subsequent decision by referee Marriner not to award a penalty after a VAR check: "It amazes me that we've got VAR to help referees. If we didn't have VAR, I wouldn't say a word about this. We've VAR to help us, he's gone to the screen and still decided not to give a penalty! For me this is not one we need to discuss, it's not subjective, it's just a clear penalty. It is what it is, and I don't want to detract from the performance the boys put in tonight."
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "The first 30 minutes were not good. We could have lost the game in that period. We didn't because the next 60 were really good. These things can happen. They should not, but they can.
"When you look at the results, all the teams that played Champions League or Europa League during the week had a tough one this weekend. It's crazy. So just now, after all the games, maybe that was the weekend where we all felt it a little bit. But then you have to fight against it and that's what the boys did."
Fulham face Brighton at 8pm on Wednesday, while Liverpool host Tottenham on Wednesday at 8pm.