Saturday 4 April 2009, 5:30pm at Craven Cottage, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC

86' Yellow Card

Zoltán Gera Card was given for a foul

76' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Olivier Dacourt
Off:Danny Murphy

79' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Zoltán Gera
Off:Simon Davies

87' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Erik Nevland
Off:Andrew Johnson

85' Yellow Card

Ryan Babel Card was given for a foul

89' Yellow Card

Martin Skrtel Card was given for a foul

65' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Ryan Babel
Off:Andrea Dossena

76' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Yossi Benayoun
Off:Dirk Kuyt

90' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Daniel Agger
Off:Steven Gerrard

A dogged Fulham defensive display was undone by a late injury time strike from Liverpool substitute, Yossi Benayoun, who popped up to hand The Reds a valuable three points as their bid for the Premier League title continues apace.

Fulham certainly rode their luck in the first half, with the visitors striking the woodwork four times. Chances for the Whites were few and far between whilst, in contrast, Liverpool were left ruing their luck on countless occasions.

Roy Hodgson named an unchanged starting line-up for the visit of title-chasing Liverpool following Fulham’s last home win over Manchester United.

The opening minutes of the game saw both sides playing with guile and patience as two similar styles of football came face-to-face - the result of which was an opening exchange pleasing on the eye and full of tactical battles.

However, the early state of parity was broken on nine minutes when two efforts from Andrea Dossena almost gave the visitors the lead. Mark Schwarzer did well to tip Dossena’s first shot over the bar and, from the resulting corner, the ball again fell to Italian whose rising effort took a deflection on its way to the crossbar.

A lax pass from Martin Skrtel on 15 minutes gave Bobby Zamora a good chance to advance on the Liverpool back line. His only passing option was Andy Johnson, who had made a diagonal run off the shoulder of the last defender, unfortunately Zamora’s pass was behind Johnson and the move ran out of steam.

Following a spell in which Fulham looked to have successfully limited Liverpool’s freedom on the ball, the Whites eventually allowed Liverpool’s playmaker, Xabi Alonso, time on the ball, he picked out a raking pass deep into Fulham’s defence which culminated in Torres forcing Schwarzer into a fantastic reaction save down to his left. The Australian goalkeeper was also alert enough to push the ball away from danger at the second time of asking.

With space at a premium, both teams were looking to the creative forces of Danny Murphy and Alonso respectively to provide defence splitting passes.

Liverpool struck the woodwork for the second time in the first half when Alonso volleyed Aaron Hughes’ firm headed clearance back towards goal with interest. The Fulham woodwork was to thank for the third time moments later when Steven Gerrard sent Torres clear. The Spanish international was forced wide but whilst he was able to get his shot past Schwarzer, he couldn’t find the back of the net.

Liverpool were again left cursing their luck when Dossena’s 36th minute diving header resulted in the ball hitting the crossbar, rather remarkably, for the fourth time in the opening 45 minutes.

The Whites were well and truly on the back foot as the first half drew to a close, yet through a combination of fine last-ditch defending and calmness under pressure, the Whites managed to reach half time on level terms.

The half time interval allowed Fulham to regain their composure and even though the second half restarted with Liverpool firmly in control, Roy Hodgson’s men did a sterling job of keeping their shape.

Liverpool managed to break through Fulham’s two banks of four on 52 minutes but Torres tamely headed Insua’s cross into Schwarzer’s arms. Despite their need for all three points, the visitors maintained their patience on the ball and were certainly not looking to rush into any reckless attacking manoeuvres.

In an attempt to give his side more impetus, Rafa Benitez introduced Ryan Babel to the action in place of Dossena.

Paul Konchesky’s fiercely struck free-kick on 64 minutes spurred Pepe Reina into action, with the Spanish keeper looking somewhat surprised with the pace of the effort as he made a routine catch.

As the Fulham defence continued to repel wave after wave of Liverpool attack, the visitors gradually started to work the game to their advantage due to the fact that the Whites were simply unable to keep the ball long enough to kill any of The Reds' momentum.

A penetrative Liverpool counter-attack on 70 minutes had Fulham on the back foot but the Whites survived thanks to a last-ditch block from John Pantsil. Liverpool’s attacks grew all the more frequent and Schwarzer twice denied the visitors with valuable stops.

Murphy was replaced with Olivier Dacourt on 75 minutes as Roy Hodgson looked to keep Fulham’s midfield area tight. The hard-working Fulham Captain left the field to a healthy ovation as he handed the armband to Aaron Hughes. Simon Davies made way for Zoltan Gera minutes later.

Fulham’s goal continued to lead a charmed life when somehow the ball rolled wide after a dramatic penalty area scramble which saw Gerrard’s shot diverted toward goal by substitute Yossi Benayoun.

Fulham’s final change of the game saw Erik Nevland replace Andy Johnson on 86 minutes. The Norwegian certainly made a impact, setting up Dempsey with a good opportunity to run at Liverpool defence with a clever flicked header.

There were desperate scenes in the Fulham goalmouth moments later though, as Benayoun drilled a shot wide from close range. However, the Israel international, who seems to hold a scoring jinx over Fulham, was not to be denied late into injury time. The ball came to him and he managed to keep his composure before slamming a powerful shot past a stranded Schwarzer.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 4 April 2009
Kick-off: 5:30pm

Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Attendance: 25,661

Referee: Steve Bennett


Line-up: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Davies (Gera 79'), Murphy (Dacourt 76'), Etuhu, Dempsey; Zamora, Johnson (Nevland 87')

Unused substitutes: Zuberbühler, Kallio, Baird, Kamara


Line-up: Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Dossena (Babel 65'); Kuyt (Benayoun 76'), Lucas Leiva, Alonso, Insúa; Gerrard (Agger 90'); Torres

Unused substitutes: Cavalieri, Riera, Mascherano, Ngog

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Liverpool 31 67
2 Manchester United 29 65
3 Chelsea 31 64
4 Arsenal 31 58
5 Aston Villa 30 52
6 Everton 30 48
7 West Ham United 31 44
8 Wigan Athletic 30 41
9 Fulham 31 40
10 Manchester City 31 38
11 Tottenham Hotspur 31 38
12 Bolton Wanderers 31 37
13 Stoke City 31 35
14 Blackburn Rovers 31 34
15 Hull City 31 34
16 Portsmouth 30 33
17 Sunderland 31 32
18 Newcastle United 31 29
19 Middlesbrough 31 27
20 West Bromwich Albion 31 24
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 1Mark Schwarzer
  • 4John Pantsil
  • 18Aaron Hughes
  • 5Brede Hangeland
  • 3Paul Konchesky
  • 25Simon Davies
  • 13Danny Murphy
  • 20Dickson Etuhu
  • 23Clint Dempsey
  • 9Bobby Zamora
  • 8Andrew Johnson
  • 19Pascal Zuberbühler
  • 33Toni Kallio
  • 34Chris Baird
  • 11Zoltán Gera
  • 16Olivier Dacourt
  • 10Erik Nevland
  • 15Diomansy Kamara
Liverpool (4-4-1-1)
  • 25José Reina
  • 17Álvaro Arbeloa
  • 23Jamie Carragher
  • 37Martin Skrtel
  • 38Andrea Dossena
  • 18Dirk Kuyt
  • 21Lucas Leiva
  • 14Xabi Alonso
  • Emiliano Insúa
  • 8Steven Gerrard
  • 9Fernando Torres
  • 1Diego Cavalieri
  • 5Daniel Agger
  • 11Albert Riera
  • 15Yossi Benayoun
  • 19Ryan Babel
  • 20Javier Mascherano
  • 24David Ngog