Possession was the key factor in the opening minutes of this game as both sides opted to start with a patient outlook. Liverpool appeared content to keep hold of the ball in their half – waiting for the opportunity to play passes through to Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.
An incisive move from Fulham produced the first real opening of the match on five minutes when Bryan Ruiz fed the ball to Mousa Dembele who was left in a one-on-one situation with Pepe Reina. Unfortunately Dembele’s effort was struck the Liverpool keeper.
The pace of the game picked up as Liverpool, through Carroll, almost netted the opener moments later – with the target man placing his shot straight at Mark Schwarzer from seven yards out.
Dickson Etuhu was making his influence felt in the middle of the park, repeatedly winning possession back for the Whites in important areas as Liverpool started to grow in confidence. Whilst efforts from Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele kept Reina busy as Fulham demonstrated their potency going forward.
Jordan Henderson could count himself unlucky not to find his name on the score sheet after he stuck the woodwork with a well placed shot on 27 minutes. The ball bounced back across the face of goal and away to safety.
The entertainment continued with both sides producing football pleasing on the eye. Clint Dempsey took the ball wonderfully on 34 minutes to craft and opening and force Reina into action.
A series of corners early in the second-half had Fulham defending desperately; Mark Schwarzer eventually ended the sequence, authoritatively claiming a corner from Charlie Adam. Fulham demonstrated admirable determination in defence, with John Arne Riise’s acrobatic clearance after a save from Schwarzer the defining moment.
There were more nervy moments for the Whites when Liverpool broke away on the counter-attack after the ball fell kindly. With Charlie Adam bearing down on goal, Philippe Senderos brought the Liverpool midfielder to ground right on the edge of the penalty area. Craig Bellamy stepped up only to see his shot ricochet off that wall and spin behind for another corner.
Bobby Zamora was replaced by Andrew Johnson on 70 minutes after putting in a hard-working display up front. Johnson would certainly pose the Liverpool back line a different problem and he indirectly had a hand in the situation that led to Jay Spearing’s sending off on 71 minutes.
Johnson’s closing down of Jose Enrique resulted in a poor clearance which eventually ended up at the feet of Dembele, who drew the red card challenge from Spearing.
Despite being reduced to ten men, Liverpool maintained their threat in attack. But Fulham replied when a fine move from Fulham saw Clint Dempsey strike the woodwork. Fulham kept the pressure up and Dembele cold have handed the Whites the lead but he fired straight at Reina from a promising position.
Mark Schwarzer the produced a stunning save to tip Stuart Downing’s long-range onto the post. It proved to be a crucial save as Fulham took the lead just minutes later.
Danny Murphy’s shot was too hot for Reina to handle and Dempsey was on hand to fire the rebound home from close range.
Fulham managed to see out the remaining minutes to claim all three points.