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Resilient Reds strike late to win away at Fulham

Liverpool managed a nervy 2-1 win against a tough Fulham side as the Anfield outfit move two points clear on top of the table. 

Three days after Liverpool’s triumph in the Champions League, Jurgen Klopp’s side made two changes in midfield. Adam Lallana came in for James Milner and Fabinho replaced the injured Jordan Henderson.

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First Half

Liverpool took the initiative early on, with Lallana looking to find space in between the lines and create opportunities for the front three. A looping ball from the Englishman resulted in Mohamed Salah’s first – of many – opportunities in the game.

The Reds began to assert their authority on the game and Virgil Van Dijk continued to show why he is so revered by Liverpool fans. The Dutchman launched a fantastic cross-field pass to Andrew Robertson, whose subsequent ball was unfortunately collected by Fulham’s goalie Sergio Rico.

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Liverpool should have broken the deadlock earlier with a Joel Matip header from a corner. The wiry defender failed to hit the target after making himself free in the box.

Just five minutes later, Liverpool opened the scoring. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino combined on a beautiful one-two play to secure Mane’s seventeenth league goal of the season.

Nevertheless, Fulham did threaten, with Ryan Babel getting some joy on the left wing. The Dutch international and former Liverpool player found Tom Cairney, who shot it well over the goal.

Second Half

The Reds continued to look dangerous and should have doubled their lead five minutes after the interval. A deep cross by Robertson towards Georginio Wijnaldum nearly resulted in Liverpool’s second.

Liverpool had the majority of the chances in the second half but Fulham continued to hang about. A Floyd Ayité goal being chalked off by the officials for offside made it obvious the Cottagers were not backing down.

In the 72nd minute, Mane hit the top of the crossbar after an Alexander-Arnold corner. Liverpool were punished for not killing the game off as a number of individual mistakes piled up.

Milner’s wild clearance ended up towards his own defence. Some miscommunication between Alisson and van Dijk meant the Dutchman’s late header was weak and Alisson was forced to rush the ball. Babel was alive to the danger and charge the ball, making his way past the Liverpool keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net.

Similar to previous seasons at Craven Cottage (Benayoun in 2008/09, Gerrard in 2013/14) Liverpool had to conjure up a late winner in order to salvage their title challenge.

A bizzare foul by Sergio Rico on Mane in the box resulted in referee Craig Pawson blewing his whistle for a penalty. Up stepped James Milner, who atoned for his error in the Fulham equaliser by scoring.

The penalty conversion ensured that Liverpool went back on top the Premier League table going into the international break.

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