The Cottagers' shock 3-1 success at Old Trafford last weekend left Sir Alex Ferguson berating his players but Gerard Houllier's men gave it their all and snatched a winner with an 89th-minute penalty. It was all too much for Fulham's Luis Boa Morte, who was booked seconds after the converted spot-kick - and shown a straight red card a minute later for scything down Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
Earlier, Heskey - who scored a brace in Wednesday's 4-3 Carling Cup victory at Blackburn - smashed home a superb 17th-minute opener. Liverpool's former Fulham right-back Steve Finnan drilled a left-foot cross into the box and Heskey, arriving ahead of Andy Melville, slammed the ball into the back of the net with a sweet first-time volley. It was a costly moment for the previously out-of-favour Melville. Fulham's club captain was making his first league appearance of the season due to Alain Goma's knee injury. However, Fulham grabbed an equaliser six minutes before the break which owed much to the determination of Moritz Volz and Steed Malbranque - but also to Steven Gerrard. Volz outpaced Djimi Traore on the right flank and Malbranque nipped in to cross. However, Gerrard stuck out a leg and deflected the ball straight to Saha at the far post. He converted with ease from five yards. Goalkeepers Mark Crossley and Jerzy Dudek were on top form to prevent further goals until two minutes from time. That was when Zat Knight upended Sinama-Pongolle and Danny Murphy slotted home the decisive spot kick. Michael Owen had returned to the Liverpool line-up after recovering from a swollen ankle. Mark Crossley made his league debut in Fulham's goal due to Edwin van der Sar's groin injury. Sami Hyypia's eighth-minute header from Murphy's left-wing corner was unconvincingly fumbled round the far post by Crossley but alarm bells rang in the visitors' defence two minutes later, with Hyypia saving Jerzy Dudek from acute embarrassment. The Reds keeper, outside the box, lost his footing attempting to intercept Malbranque's long ball thumped towards Saha. Fulham's Frenchman scuffed the ball goalwards and Hyypia blocked. But it was the Merseysiders who powered into the lead with Heskey's stunning goal after 17 minutes. It was the England front man's fifth strike of the season.
Saha wasted a decent opportunity to equalise, heading wide from a corner, and the home team were hit by the early withdrawal of Mark Pembridge - who had been struggling for this match after being injured at Old Trafford. Fulham came back into the game and grabbed their somewhat fortunate equaliser in the 40th minute and on the stroke of half-time, Saha cut inside from theright and forced Dudek to scramble across his goal and save at the foot of his left-hand post.
And only a stunning save by Dudek denied Saha his second of the game four minutes after the interval. Harry Kewell's clearance cannoned off Lee Clark and Saha lashed a ferocious volley goalwards and Dudek stuck out his left hand to save impressively. Kewell attempted to make amends for his error at the other end but dragged a shot wide. Murphy was booked for a wild tackle on Malbranque which left the Frenchman in obvious distress. Fulham hung by their fingertips in the 64th minute when Crossley bravely saved at the feet of Vladimir Smicer and Heskey's acute follow-up effort spun wide off the heels of Jerome Bonnissel. Crossley was the home side's saviour again as the contest ticked into the final 20 minutes. Smicer charged onto a through-ball, hitting a shot which deflected off Bonnissel and brought the best out of Crossley - who stretched out a hand to palm the ball over the crossbar. And there was late drama as Knight's rash challenge on Liverpool substitute Sinama-Pongolle gave away the decisive penalty. Murphy made no mistake from the spot, sending Crossley the wrong way to slot home the winner. Boa Morte was booked as the teams lined up to kick off again and a minute later the Portuguese winger - the last man as Fulham's defenders pushed up for a free-kick - made an horrendous lunge on Sinama-Pongolle as he advanced over the half-way line. Referee Rob Styles duly compounded Fulham's misery by showing a straight red card to Boa Morte.