|A 90th minute Steven Gerrard penalty saw brave Fulham fall to an undeserved 3-2 defeat against at Craven Cottage.|
Sascha Riether Card was given for a foul
Kieran Richardson Card was given for celebrating in an unsporting manner
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted due to an injury
Assist by Steven Gerrard
Assist by Daniel Sturridge
Philippe Coutinho Card was given for a foul
Jordan Henderson Card was given for a foul
Steven Gerrard Card was given for celebrating in an unsporting manner
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
A 90th minute Steven Gerrard penalty saw brave Fulham fall to an undeserved 3-2 defeat against Liverpool on Wednesday evening at Craven Cottage.
The Whites started the game brightly and went ahead after eight minutes in comical fashion when Kolo Toure sliced Kieran Richardson’s cross into his own net, although Daniel Sturridge levelled before half-time after collecting an excellent Gerrard pass.
Liverpool started the second half the brighter of the two teams, but it was the home side who retook the lead when Richardson crashed in from close range following a mistake by Martin Skrtel.
A deflected Philippe Coutinho strike brought the Reds level once again, before they stole the points in stoppage time from the spot after Sascha Riether hacked down Sturridge.
René Meulensteen made just one change to the side which drew with Manchester United, as Darren Bent was rewarded for his goalscoring exploits with a starting berth – Muamer Tanković the man to make way.
Fulham created the first chance within 50 seconds, despite Liverpool kicking-off. Steve Sidwell intercepted a loose pass and laid the ball off to John Arne Riise who pumped a ball upfield that found its way to Bent via Lewis Holtby. The striker controlled neatly before feeding Ryan Tunnicliffe whose near-post shot was turned behind for a corner by Simon Mignolet.
The Whites had started the game at a quick tempo and won another corner shortly after, following good work by Richardson, with Dan Burn nodding Holtby’s delivery over.
Fulham’s positive start was rewarded in the eighth minute, although there was a huge slice of luck about it. An intelligent pass from Holtby found the equally smart run of Richardson down the left and the winger swung in a low cross that Toure volleyed back towards goal and over the despairing grasp of Mignolet.
The home side were bossing the play and two minutes later Bent did well to nod a long ball back into Holtby’s path, with the midfielder lashing a low effort narrowly wide of the post from just outside the box.
Luis Suarez fashioned Liverpool’s first decent opening of the game 13 minutes in when he skipped into the Fulham penalty area before trying to catch Maarten Stekelenburg out at his near post. Fortunately the keeper was alert to the danger and pushed the ball behind for a corner.
Suarez was beginning to turn on the style and four minutes later he span away from Burn in the box, but the centre-back recovered well to put him off the subsequent shot which sailed harmlessly over.
There was then a huge heart in mouth moment for Fulham fans when Sidwell attempted to volley a 60-yard pass back to Stekelenburg. The Whites skipper seemed to hit it into the path of the lurking Suarez, but the Dutch stopper read the danger well to reach the ball first and smash it out for a throw.
Sturridge was fortunate to receive a wayward pass 20 yards out after 27 minutes but his shot was never troubling Stekelenburg who claimed easily.
Superb running by Richardson down the left in the 35th minute culminated in him whipping over a dangerous cross that Bent rose to meet, only to send his header some way over.
William Kvist then won another corner when his shot deflected wide, with Sidwell seeing his header from the set-piece going behind off a Liverpool body for another set-piece. That led to some neat interplay between Kvist and Holtby, with the latter dragging an effort wide after making a fraction of space for himself in the area.
Completely out of nothing, Liverpool levelled with four minutes remaining of the half. A loose ball fell to Gerrard just inside his own half and he delivered an exquisite first-time pass up the pitch to send Sturridge clean through. The striker opened his body up to fire beyond Stekelenburg and in via the post.
Sturridge looked to put his side in front before the half was over as he managed to get away from Kvist 20 yards from goal, but lost his footing when he struck and the ball flew over.
Suarez showed excellent skill to nip beyond Riether in a wide position five minutes after the restart. The full-back tracked back well but ended up hauling the striker down and earning a yellow card for his troubles.
Sidwell then showed remarkable vision when he tried his luck from inside his own half after spotting Mignolet off his line. He struck his effort well and it appeared to be on target, but the Belgium international back-peddled quickly to catch the strike at the second attempt.
Suarez was presented with a golden opportunity in the 55th minute when Sturridge chipped a neat ball onto his chest. He shimmied to make space away from Riether, but dragged his left-footed strike wide of the far post.
Coutinho then followed Riether into the book when he dragged down Richardson who had tried to burst away.
The Reds were beginning to turn the screw and had three chances in close succession. First, Suarez dragged a ball across that face that nobody was able to get on the end of, then Gerrard saw a shot blocked, before Sturridge’s effort deflected behind for a corner.
That then resulted in another chance for the visitors but Coutinho’s curled effort was too close to Stekelenburg who claimed comfortably. The danger wasn’t gone though and just after the hour mark Suarez saw an excellent arrowed strike from 17 yards come back off the far post.
But, just as Liverpool’s was in the first half, Fulham got a goal against the run of play. A wicked Riether cross was inexplicably sent back across the six-yard box by Skrtel, with Richardson the gleeful recipient as he smashed in from close range. A passionate celebration that involved the removal of his jersey saw the Fulham man booked, though.
The first change of the evening arrived in the 71st minute when the excellent Richardson was replaced by former Red Alexander Kačaniklić.
Seconds later Fulham found themselves on level terms once again and, for the second time in four days, the opposition was aided by a sizeable deflection. This time it was Coutinho, who saw his effort fly off the toe of Kvist and beyond the outstretched grasp of Stekelenburg.
There was concern for the wellbeing of our goalkeeper shortly after when his former Ajax colleague Suarez caught him in the head with his boot. Thankfully he returned to his feet after treatment, although wasn’t able to continue, with David Stockdale taking his place between the sticks.
Jordan Henderson was next to be cautioned when he scythed down the marauding Bent in the middle of the pitch, although Fulham may have been better served if advantage had been played as Holtby looked to play Kačaniklić in on goal.
Brendan Rodgers made his first change of the night with eight minutes remaining, replacing Raheem Sterling with Joao Teixeira.
Liverpool almost punished Riise for giving away possession when they broke with pace a minute later. The ball ended up at Coutinho’s feet but the Brazilian’s first-time effort flew marginally wide of the far post.
Positive running by Kačaniklić at the other end then resulted in a shooting opportunity for Holtby, with his strike from range deflecting behind for another corner. Liverpool countered from that set-piece, though, culminating in Teixeira bending one over the angle of post and crossbar.
Heartbreakingly, just as 90 minutes approached, Riether dived into a challenge with Sturridge in the penalty area and chopped down the England striker. His national team captain then stepped up to emphatically plant an ill-deserved winner into the corner of the net.
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Date: Wednesday 12 February 2014
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Phil Dowd
Line-up: Stekelenburg (Stockdale 76'); Riether, Heitinga, Burn, John Arne Riise; Tunnicliffe, Kvist, Sidwell, Richardson (Kacaniklic 71'); Holtby; Bent
Unused substitutes: Hangeland, Kasami, Duff, Cole, Parker
Head Coach: Rene Meulensteen
Line-up: Mignolet; Flanagan, Skrtel, Touré, Cissokho; Coutinho (Agger 90'), Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling (João Teixeira 82'), Sturridge, Suarez
Unused substitutes: Jones, Kelly, Moses, Allen, Aspas
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
|11||West Ham United||26||28|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||26||24|