Liverpool were lucky to escape Craven Cottage with a point, as the Reds produced a lethargic, uninspiring Premier League performance but managed to scrap enough to find a way to secure a 1-1 draw.
Scott Parker’s side set out their stall from the off, and forced splendid saves from Alisson early on before they finally found the breakthrough, courtesy of a fierce strike from Bobby Decordova-Reid.
Fulham should have gone into the break with a more secure lead after an anaemic first-half display from Liverpool, but were made to rue their profligacy after Liverpool’s second-half pressure finally paid off and Mohamed Salah levelled the scoreline from the penalty spot.
And after hearing that Diogo Jota could miss up to two months of action through an injury sustained in the draw at Midtjylland in midweek, Liverpool were dealt a further injury blow when Joël Matip was replaced at half time after complaining of back trouble.
Fulham began the game optimistically, keeping the tempo high and firing a few speculative efforts from range. Ivan Cavaleiro beat the offside trap inside four minutes to run through on goal, but the returning Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson stood tall to block his well-struck effort.
Despite getting on the ball more after the opening 10 minutes, Cavaleiro was there again to shoot unchallenged at the goalkeeper on the quarter-hour mark, but once again Liverpool’s No.1 was alert to smother the effort.
The game’s fast pace was slowed down altogether after VAR official Lee Mason took four minutes checking a Fabinho challenge on Cavaleiro in the penalty area – only for on-pitch referee Andre Marriner to say no foul after consulting the pitch-side monitor for less than 30 seconds.
But it didn’t halt the home side’s momentum, as they took the lead before the half-hour mark. Liverpool failed to adequately clear their lines from a corner, allowing Bobby Decordova-Reid to hit a venomous effort from just inside the penalty area which left Alisson with no chance.
It took 40 minutes for Liverpool to create a genuine chance, when Curtis Jones curled a delightful cross to the far post where it was met by Sadio Mané, but the Senegalese could not keep his header down with one eye on the advancing Alphonse Areola.Embed from Getty Images
If the Reds were lucky to be only one behind at half-time, their luck completely deserted them at the break as Joėl Matip failed to re-emerge from the dressing room with an injury. Takumi Minamino replaced him, and Jordan Henderson and Fabinho formed a centre-back pairing with no recognised centre-back on the pitch.
It was the Reds’ newest makeshift central defender who had his side’s best opportunity of the game up to that point just after the hour mark, but the skipper couldn’t beat Areola after being slipped in beautifully by Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool needed a momentous stroke of luck if they were going to get back into this one, and they got it when Georginio Wijnaldum drove a free-kick into the wall with ten minutes to go, which struck the arm of Fulham substitute Aboubakar Kamara. Referee Marriner instantly pointed to the spot, and Salah made no mistake from 12 yards to restore parity.
Despite a push for a late winner, Liverpool had to settle for a hard-earned but perhaps undeserved draw – but after Matip’s injury, the Reds’ real concern will be over who will be fit enough to face high-flying Tottenham Hotspur in midweek.
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