Liverpool got off to a dream start, taking the lead after only 35 seconds with their first attack of the match. The lively Luis Suarez was played into space down Fulham’s right flank, enabling him to get into the area and play a low pass across the danger area. Carlos Salcido’s interception was only half cleared by Mark Schwarzer and the ball fell kindly for Maxi Rodriguez, who side-footed home from eight yards.
The game had barely settled down before the visitors doubled their lead and Maxi registered his second strike of the game. Carlos Salcido was caught under a lofted ball forward and Glen Johnson was on hand to play a delicate cross to the back post where Maxi was waiting with a clean finish past Schwarzer.
Buoyed by their quick-fire opening, Liverpool continued to dominate the opening exchanges as the Whites fought hard to settle down and establish their natural game.
But just as Mark Hughes’ men started to build up a head of steam Liverpool managed to mount a dangerous counter-attack as Suarez was played in behind Brede Hangeland, the Liverpool man fell to ground in the penalty after losing control of the ball – but the referee decided in favour of Fulham, ruling no infringement from the chasing Hangeland.
Liverpool made it three just minutes later with a moment Mark Schwarzer would rather forget. Dirk Kuytchanced his hand with a speculative shot from the edge of the area which squirmed past the Fulham ‘keeper at his near post and trickled into the net.
Liverpool continued to look dangerous as the first-half progressed, and it was through the impressive Luis Suarez that the majority of their best chances were coming. The Uruguayan repeatedly demonstrated an uncanny knack for finding space in Fulham’s back line.
Fulham were denied what looked like a certain goal on 33 minutes when Clint Dempsey’s volley from Simon Davies’ corner was cleared off the line by Glen Johnson. Despite the score line Fulham stayed positive and were looking game for a goal as half-time approached.
Mark Hughes started the second-half with a substitution, replacing Simon Davies with Bobby Zamora. The change saw Mousa Dembele move out to the right flank allowing Zamora to join Gudjohnsen up front.
Fulham certainly looked brighter in attack after the break with good opportunities falling to Dempsey and Gudjohnsen early on. And Zamora’s influence brought an almost immediate result as he teed up Mousa Dembele with an opportunity that the Belgium international took with aplomb. The Fulham substitute held off the attentions of his marker before touching the ball to Dembele who placed a left footed finish past Pepe Reina on 57 minutes.
Andrew Johnson Replaced Eidur Gudjohnsen on 67 minutes as Mark Hughes looked to build on Fulham’s second-half momentum.
But Liverpool pulled away from the Whites again on 70 minutes with a thunderbolt from Maxi, who completed his hat-trick with a fierce 25 yard drive that flew into the top corner via the fingertips of Mark Schwarzer.
The goals continued to come for Liverpool and Luis Suarez made it five for the visitors on 75 minutes. Jonjo Shelvey won possession in midfield and with Suarez peeling away from the Fulham defence on the far side; the final pass was a simple one. Suarez took a touch to round Schwarzer to side foot the ball home.
With the encounter apparently petering out, Steve Sidwell got his name on the score sheet with a wonderfully taken consolation on 85 minutes. Carlos Salcido’s delivery into the box was only cleared as far as Sidwell on the edge of the area, the Fulham midfielder took a touch before hitting an unstoppable strike past Reina.