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Fulham hard done by at Liverpool

last updated Thursday 27th January 2011, 11:26 AM
Fulham defender John Paintsil
Fulham defender
John Paintsil
John Paintsil

Liverpool's renaissance under Kenny Dalglish continued as victory over Fulham lifted them into their highest Barclays Premier League position of the season.

It was not the most notable of performances, although there were plenty of spells of good football from the hosts, as John Pantsil's second-half own goal divided the teams.

But the Reds registered back-to-back wins for the first time since early November to move up to seventh, within six points of fifth-placed Tottenham, and maintain the feeling of optimism which arrived when Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson earlier this month.

The last time the legendary Scot faced a Fulham team at Anfield he was player-manager on the occasion of a 10-0 League Cup victory in September 1986 against the then third-division side - and he did not even score.

There was to be no repeat of those fireworks, understandably considering Liverpool's still fragile form and the Cottagers' precarious position.

Until Pantsil put through his own net the main talking point was the goal Fernando Torres had disallowed after just six minutes.

Liverpool's last match, the 3-0 win at Wolves, had prompted much debate - and subsequent sexism controversy - about female referee's assistant Sian Massey.

On that occasion she made the correct call in not flagging Raul Meireles offside for the Reds' opening goal at Molineux.

Match Stats Liverpool Fulham
Goals 1 0
Possession 54% 46%
Goal attempts 14 11
On Target 3 5
Passing Success 80.7% 78.0%
Tackles 29 25
Tackles Success 48.3% 72.0%
Corners 6 2
Off-sides 6 0
Saves 4 1
Fouls 11 13
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: SkySports
Male counterpart Mick McDonough was not so accurate as he wrongly ruled the Spain international was offside before he slotted Meireles' through-ball past David Stockdale.

Fortunately for the assistant referee, Pantsil prevented him making the headlines.

Portugal international Meireles was man of the match at the weekend and he started brightly again as he kept the advanced midfield role even on captain Steven Gerrard's return after suspension.

It was he who got on the end of Martin Kelly's right-wing cross to direct a low header goalwards which the goalkeeper turned around his post.

Stockdale was called into action again in the 25th minute when Glen Johnson, playing at left-back, cut inside to unleash a right-footed shot which the keeper tipped over.

Clint Dempsey forced Jose Reina into a low save just before the half-hour but the Spain international should not have been given a chance seconds later when Andrew Johnson cut the ball back to the penalty spot but Moussa Dembele hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Daniel Agger fired a low 30-yard drive wide and Torres headed over from Kelly's cross in added time at the end of the first half as the hosts failed to make their dominance pay.

Maxi Rodriguez had a shot blocked by Aaron Hughes but when a cross was swung back into the area the Argentinian wasted his free header with an aimless looping effort.

But that was forgotten when Liverpool took the lead in the 52nd minute.

Dirk Kuyt's interception of Dempsey's pass touched the ball into the path of Torres on the edge of the penalty area and he unleashed a shot which deflected off Brede Hangeland and rebounded back off the post.

Pantsil and Stockdale got in the way of each other in the resulting melee with the defender, under pressure from Meireles, slicing an attempted clearance over his own goalline.

The Fulham right-back tried to make amends when his cross picked out Dempsey but the American volleyed straight at Reina.

Meireles' quick counter-attack from Reina's throw almost brought the second goal as his attempted pass to Rodriguez deflected off Hughes and had Stockdale scrambling at the foot of his left-hand post to recover.

The Fulham centre-back proved equally effective at the other end as his header forced Reina into a full-length dive to prevent the ball creeping inside the post.

Seconds later Meireles displayed his rarely-seen defensive duties by hacking Hangeland's header off the line with the goalkeeper beaten.

Liverpool hung on, something they have struggled to do in the past, as Dalglish's influence continued to be felt.

At the final whistle the PA system played Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Optimism is definitely growing at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has no intention of settling for seventh place after a 1-0 victory over Fulham lifted his side to their highest position in the Premier League this season.

''I think we are better than that,'' he said. ''It is getting a bit more realistic but we are not getting carried away with being seventh - that is not where this football club wants to be.

''We want to be further up than that but to do that we have to win more games and that is what we will try to do, starting against Stoke next Wednesday.''

Asked what his long-term objective was he replied: ''To beat Stoke next Wednesday, the same we have done here since I can remember. We have never come in at the start of the season and said 'we're going to do this or that', we just went out to do the best we could.

''At the end of the season we added up the points to see where we were and I don't any reason to change that. It never did us any harm. It is the only way I know, that is the way I was brought up.''

On the game he felt his side did well to keep the determined Cottagers at bay.

''I think Fulham will be feeling a little hard-done by because they will think they deserved something from the game,'' he added. ''But there have been many games when we thought we deserved more from it than we got.

''Tonight the boys showed a great deal of determination and effort and it is great credit to them after a hard run of games. I think that type of victory tonight has been a long time coming because we worked hard we got a little bit of good fortune.

''We had some bad luck because Fernando's goal was onside but we never got it so kept going. Referees make bad decisions, we make bad decisions and players make bad decisions. It is just the way of life.''

Fulham boss Mark Hughes also felt his side deserved more from the game.

''We are shaking our heads in there,'' he said. 'I've been involved in many teams as a player and a manager coming here where we've been totally dominated and been lucky to get anything. Tonight was the complete opposite. To take the game to Liverpool and not get anything was disappointing.''

Liverpool Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Meireles,Poulsen (Aurelio 80), Kuyt (Shelvey 66), Gerrard, Maxi, Torres.
Subs Not Used: Gulacsi, Cole, Pacheco, Wilson, Ngog.

Goals: Pantsil 52 og.
(Pantsil and Stockdale got in the way of each other in the resulting melee with the defender, under pressure from Meireles, slicing an attempted clearance over his own goalline)

Fulham Stockdale, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird,Duff (Gera 63), Sidwell, Murphy, Dempsey, Dembele,Andrew Johnson.
Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Kelly, Salcido, Kamara, Greening, Davies.

Booked: Pantsil (69,f).

Att: 40,466

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

Source soccernet
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