Liverpool's capitulation as champions stooped to an unprecedented low as Fulham boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 win at Anfield which condemned Jurgen Klopp's side to a sixth successive home defeat.
Klopp made seven changes in the wake of Thursday's defeat by Chelsea but they failed to inspire the Reds as their horrendous home run continued against the relegation-threatened Cottagers.
Mario Lemina punished slack defending from Mohamed Salah to rifle in his first Fulham goal on the stroke of half-time as Scott Parker's side were rewarded for their adventurous approach at the home of champions.
Substitute Sadio Mane clipped the crossbar in the second half and a crucial stoppage-time clearance from Joachim Andersen prevented Liverpool from salvaging a point as they failed to win for an eighth consecutive game at Anfield for the first time since 1958.
By contrast, it was a memorable first managerial visit to Anfield for Parker as he guided Fulham to only their second victory away at Liverpool which sees them move level on points with 17th-place Brighton in the battle for survival.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), N Williams (5), R Williams (6), Phillips (6), Robertson (6), Milner (6), Wijnaldum (5), Keita (6), Shaqiri (5), Salah (5), Jota (6).
Subs: Fabinho (5), Mane (6), Alexander-Arnold (5).
Fulham: Areola (7), Tete (8), Andersen (8), Tosin (8), Aina (8), Reed (7), Lemina (8), Lookman (8), Cavaleiro (7), Decordova-Reid (7), Maja (7).
Subs: Mitrovic (6), Loftus-Cheek (6), Robinson (n/a).
Man of the Match: Joachim Andersen
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Fulham plunder as Anfield foundations crumble
With an eye arguably on Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second-leg with RB Leipzig, Klopp made seven pre-match changes, but they were pounced upon by a Fulham side fighting for their lives.
The visitors came close to taking an early lead when January loan signing Josh Maja shanked a volley wide inside three minutes, and Fulham's adventurous approach went on to cause Liverpool's makeshift defence issues throughout the first period.
Ademola Lookman had the beating of Neco Williams, tormenting the Liverpool right-back throughout with driving runs which he could have capped with goals had he found the target with two shots early in the first half.
- Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to the team beaten by Chelsea, with Diogo Jota, Neco Williams, Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips among the returnees.
- Bobby Decordova-Reid and Kenny Tete returned as Fulham made team changes from the defeat to Tottenham.
Liverpool were indebted to two smothering save from Alisson Becker before the half-hour mark when he prevented Maja from bundling the ball home at the second attempt after reaching Kenny Tete's cross to the back post.
Neco Williams was undone by another run in behind from Lookman on 35 minutes but recovered in time with a crucial last-ditch block which turned the Fulham forward's shot over the bar.
Salah looked sharp in the final third as he looked to draw a line under his midweek substitution against Chelsea. But having flashed a couple of early chances wide of the Fulham goal, the Egyptian's week took a turn for the worse a minute before the break.
Salah dithered in possession on the edge of his own area after Liverpool had cleared a cross into the box, inviting pressure from Lemina who picked his pocket and rifled a low shot past Alisson which gave Fulham the half-time lead.
Klopp resisted the temptation of making changes at the start of the second half, which was greeted by the low buzz overhead of a banner-carrying plane which the message 'Unity is Strength. Let's go Reds. YNWA'.
It almost inspired the Reds to an instant response, with Diogo Jota's thunderous volley expertly tipped away by Alphonse Areola within three minutes of the restart.
Mane was introduced just after the hour mark but even he was unable to spark Liverpool into life as he failed to convert a header from Shaqiri's cross and scuffed an effort into the ground from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross.
Liverpool ramped up the pressure late on but Fulham's stout defensive performance was typified by Andersen's stunning late clearance as Liverpool's Anfield woes continued to leave their top-four hopes in tatters.
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher:
"So often at these stages last season, Liverpool scored late goals, even the year before when they were chasing down Man City. That man [Jurgen Klopp] rightly called his side the 'mentality monsters' and they deserved that tag. But right now, they are like 'mentality midgets'.
"Every time there is a bit of adversity, you go behind in a game, his team is just not dealing well with adversity at any stage in this last three or four months.
"It's not acceptable from Liverpool, that sort of performance, and I'll tell you what, I played in some really poor Liverpool teams. These defeats, at home, against the level of opposition, you need to find something from somewhere. It looks like top four positions now are a long way off."
Anfield has fallen - Match stats
- Liverpool have lost six consecutive home league games, their longest ever such run, while they are the first side to lose six in a row on home soil in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in February 2019 (seven).
- Liverpool's six league defeats at Anfield in 2020-21 is their most in a single campaign since 1953-54 (also six), when the Reds finished bottom of the top-flight.
- Fulham are the first newly-promoted side to win away at Liverpool in the Premier League since Blackpool beat Roy Hodgson's Reds in October 2010, ending Liverpool's run of 30 home league meetings with such opponents without defeat (W24 D6).
- Liverpool are now winless in their last eight home games in the Premier League (D2 L6), only embarking on a longer winless top-flight run at Anfield once before - 10 games between October 1951 and March 1952.
- Excluding penalties and own goals, Liverpool have failed to score with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League (including 16 today). Since we have exact times of shots available in the competition (2006-07), this is the longest such scoreless run of shots on home soil by any side.
What the managers said...
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "There were moments we could have had more of an impact on the game. Conceding that goal before half-time was a massive blow. We tried to react, and the boys showed that. In the end if we don't score goals that's a big problem.
"We never had a momentum in the season, really, in the Premier League at least. You can see that. It's still in the boys, they still have it all, but in the moment can't show it. It would be a masterpiece to find out how we change that overnight.
"The only good thing is we play a different competition in three games and hopefully we can show a different face there.
"Fulham will cause us problems - it's clear. They're in a good moment, they're a good team. We all agree a team like this should stay in the Premier League."
Asked if Fulham 'wanted it more', Klopp said: "The winner is always right. My boys wanted it. It's easy to judge, 'they have won it so wanted it more.' I don't think that's the problem. I don't have to stand here and say we're fighting for this or that."
Fulham manager Scott Parker: "First half I thought we were every bit what I wanted us to look like. The chances we created, the boys stuck to the plan, and we were worthy of the first goal.
"But again at the end, the whole second half, we had to show another side to us, character, resilience, doggedness. I'm so proud of the team today.
I've always said to the team: 'The way we're playing, things will change' and today we're on the right side of that, so it's massive.
"There is momentum with us as a team. When it's all said and done at the end of the season, we'll work out whether we were good enough or not.
"I'm pleased for the lads, that they've got what they deserve, because for large parts of this season, and in the last 10 or 15 games, we haven't got what we deserved."
Man of the Match - Joachim Andersen
Ademola Lookman was the shining light in an impressive offensive display. The marauding Kenny Tete deserved recognition from his tireless efforts down the right flank. But the inspired performance of captain Andersen typified the fighting spirit of Fulham. Alongside Tosin, the Cottagers have a centre-back pairing that will be the foundations of their survival bid if they pull of their relegation escape.
Liverpool 'host' RB Leipzig in their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday at 8pm in Budapest, before travelling to Wolves on Monday Night Football at 8pm - live on Sky Sports Premier League. Fulham host league leaders Manchester City on Saturday at 8pm.