Bobby Zamora’s first-half goal gave Fulham the lead before a strike from Fernando Torres levelled matters. Erik Nevland put Fulham in front in the second-half with a stylish finish from close range. Liverpool were then reduced to nine men after both Degen and Carragher were shown straight red cards. Clint Dempsey rounded off the scoring late on.
Liverpool made a bright start to the match, lining-up with a somewhat unusual 4-2-3-1 formation, which featured plenty of interchanging of positions between midfield and attack. It took the Whites some time to grow accustomed to their opponents’ formation, during which time Liverpool were certainly on top in terms of possession.
Following a couple of positive runs from Clint Dempsey, Fulham managed assert themselves more effectively. Whilst chances were few and far between in the opening period Fulham were looking inventive going forward and Dempsey was heavily involved in most of the promising moves.
When in possession Liverpool were doing their utmost to work the ball back and forth along Fulham's defensive line – hoping to find space for the killer pass. On 18 minutes a good opportunity presented itself to Liverpool when Kuyt managed to evade the attentions of Konchesky to play a dangerous low pass across the face of the Fulham goalmouth. Thankfully Torres was unable to reach the ball. Nonetheless, the balance of play had shifted markedly back in Liverpool’s favour, with Fulham on the back foot for extended periods.
A lofted diagonal ball into the Fulham penalty area from Lucas on 21 minutes found Benayoun at the back post; the Liverpool attacker unleashed a strong shot which rattled Mark Schwarzer’s crossbar.
The Whites took the lead in the 23rd minute against the run of play with an incisive attack. Damien Duff received the ball just outside the Liverpool penalty area and hit a firm low pass behind the Liverpool defensive line – Bobby Zamora was on hand to place a side-footed finish past Pepe Reina.
The goal momentarily knocked Liverpool off their stride as Fulham took the upper hand in terms of possession – however, Liverpool were back on top as the first-half reached its closing minutes. The equalising goal came in the 42nd minute through Fernando Torres. The Spain international connected sweetly with a volley on the edge of the penalty area to beat Schwarzer.
Roy Hodgson made two half-time changes, replacing Damien Duff with Zoltan Gera and Diomansy Kamara with Erik Nevland.
Nevland’s first moment of action came when he ran on to a delightful lofted pass from Zamora only to be nudged off the ball at the last minute in the penalty area.
With both sides eager to take the lead, the second-half was full of action and entertainment. Bobby Zamora, who was having a fine game, had the Liverpool defence in trouble on 57 minutes after a powerful run was halted somewhat clumsily by Kyrgiakos.
Zamora was involved again moments later when he fed a cross to Zoltan Gera who controlled the ball well before getting his shot on target.
Zamora had the Liverpool defence in trouble once more when he was brought to ground in the area by Jamie Carragher after another strong run. A penalty appeal rang around the Cottage but referee Mason was not interested.
The game continued, balanced on a knife-edge, with Fulham looking more dangerous than in the first-half. Liverpool, having replaced Torres with Babel, were looking momentarily disjoined up front.
Fulham retook the lead in stylish fashion through Erik Nevland. Paul Konchesky did well to win possession out wide and he made good ground into the area before clipping a cross to the back post to Zoltan Gera. The Hungarian international headed the ball back into the danger zone where Nevland was waiting to cleverly flick the ball over the line.
Fulham almost added a third on 76 minutes when the ball fell to Zamora in the box but he was unable to get his effort on target.
Philipp Degan was shown a straight red card on 78 minutes after his studs-up challenge on Dempsey, just as the American was clearing the ball. The nightmare continued for Liverpool moments later when Jamie Carragher, the last Liverpool defender, brought down Zamora. The referee had no hesitation in producing the second red card of the match.
Dickson Etuhu replaced Jonathan Greening before Clint Dempsey finished off the scoring with a wonderful goal. Bobby Zamora fed the ball to Nevland who exchanged passes with Dempsey, cutting open the Liverpool defence and allowing the American international to slot home from close range.