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Liverpool 0-1 Fulham Prem36 Daily Mail

last updated Thursday 03rd May 2012, 1:02 PM
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Dominic King at Daily Mail

Liverpool (0) 0 Fulham (1) 1

Some things will not change.

Liverpool might finish the season winning two trophies but they still cannot win at home.

Such has been the extraordinary nature of Liverpool's campaign, it was probably unrealistic to expect a routine, comfortable win to prepare for the FA Cup final.

But how Kenny Dalglish must wish that was what his team produced.

Instead, on a night when Fulham won on Merseyside for the first time, Dalglish found himself reading the riot act to his squad and being confronted by a welter of alarming statistics.

This, truly, was no way to prepare for a season-defining showdown with Chelsea and Dalglish was blunt with his message for those who had hoped to stake a late claim for Wembley.

'The attitude and approach was all wrong,' said Dalglish, who made nine changes to the side that won 3-0 at Norwich on Saturday.

'If you go into the game with a bad attitude you get a bad performance.

In fact you couldn't describe it as a performance.

'I have to take part of the blame as I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to get minutes on the pitch and a chance to push their case.

We can't play at that tempo, we have to play higher.

One or two did well but apart from that it wasn't a good night for us.

' That is putting it mildly.

Defeat, which was inflicted by Martin Skrtel's fifth-minute own goal, means Liverpool have squandered an incredible 30 points at Anfield.

Should they fail to beat Chelsea in their last home league game next Tuesday, a tally of five wins would be their lowest since 1948-49.

They also need to score five against their Wembley opponents to avoid this being their lowest home scoring campaign since 1903-04.

Dalglish may have argued that this game would have no bearing on what happens at Wembley but it has hardly filled supporters with confidence.

Perhaps a lack of cohesion and unfamiliarity with one another contributed to Liverpool's sloppy start and their sluggishness enabled Fulham to pilfer an early lead they never looked like relinquishing.

Clint Dempsey, scorer of the goal that won the reverse fixture in December, started the move, ushering in former Liverpool left back Jon Arne Riise.

His cross was scuffed by Alex Kacaniklic, another Anfield old boy, but the ball ricocheted into Skrtel and Liverpool's captain on the night was powerless to stop it diverting beyond Alexander Doni, the Brazilian who is understudy to Pepe Reina.

With Fulham bringing only a handful of supporters, the goal was greeted with an eerie silence.

The visitors could scarcely believe their good fortune, while the home supporters shook their heads wearily.

It was a scene they have witnessed many times this season.

Jonjo Shelvey came closest to securing parity before the break but, after being picked out by Maxi Rodriguez, the midfielder's shot was eventually cleared off the line by Brede Hangeland via a parry from Schwarzer.

Andy Carroll, meanwhile, saw a looping header sail over the bar.

Having stood with his hands stuffed into his sports coat for much of the 45 minutes, occasionally barking out orders in exasperation, Dalglish took the opportunity to regroup during the break and replaced Jordan Henderson with the more direct Stewart Downing.

Yet that did not lead to a stream of chances.

Too many passes went askew and Liverpool needed Doni to be alive to the danger when Damien Duff burst through to prevent them falling further behind.

Hangeland was arguably Fulham's best performer but there were others, such as Moussa Dembele, Riise and the tireless Dempsey, who made big contributions.

To put it another way, they were never hanging on for dear life.

Riise, Dempsey and substitute Kerim Frei all had opportunities to extend Fulham's lead late on and they now have given themselves a real chance of finishing above Liverpool in the table after bouncing back spectacularly from last weekend's 4-0 drubbing at Everton.

'We are delighted with the way we played because we had a few good chances late on to wrap it up,' said Billy McKinlay, who was overseeing operations for manager Martin Jol, after the manager had failed to recover from a chest infection.

'The response to Saturday's poor performance was evident.

It was a terrific response, just what we were looking for, and the players deserve a lot of credit.

Anfield is still a difficult place to come, there's no doubt about that.

'Being level with Liverpool on points shows what a good season we've had.

Hopefully this result will cheer Martin up a bit - put it this way, I'll enjoy our conversation more than I did after Saturday's match.

' And he will have enjoyed it a good deal more than the ones which were held inside the home dressing room.

Liverpool: Doni, Kelly, Coates, Skrtel, Aurelio (Jose Enrique 65), Henderson (Downing 46), Shelvey, Spearing, Maxi, Carroll, Kuyt (Sterling 76).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Carragher, Flanagan, Robinson.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Duff, Murphy, Dembele (Baird 86), Kacaniklic (Frei 58), Dempsey, Pogrebnyak (Etuhu 80).
Subs Not Used: Stockdale, Orlando Sa, Kasami, Briggs.

Goal: Skrtel 5 og.

Att: 40,106

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

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