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Barclays Premier League

Anfield (ATT 42,331) 11th April 2010 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: A Marriner

Liverpool Liverpool vs Fulham Fulham

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Fulham 0

Fulham foil Liverpool hopes

Cottagers repel Liverpool barrage as European hopes flounder

By Danny Wright.   Last Updated: 11/04/10 6:13pm

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Liverpool: Fulham frustration

Liverpool: Fulham frustration

Fulham put in a superb rearguard action to inflict a severe dent on Liverpool's hopes of attaining a UEFA Champions League place by earning a richly deserved 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Man of the match: Alberto Aquilani ran the show for Liverpool and he was the best player on the pitch by some distance. His passing and drive were immense, and they provided Liverpool with their only real source of attacking threat. Shot of the match: Javier Mascherano tried his luck from distance in the first half but his superb strike was matched only by Mark Schwarzer's fine save. Save of the match: Schwarzer's save from Mascherano looked best on the cameras, however his block to deny Maxi Rodriguez a few minutes before was crucial to keep his goal in tact. Talking point: Are Liverpool's Champions League hopes over? Can they recover and make up the ground on Manchester City? Is Roy Hodgson the lead contender for manager of the season after guiding his team to the Europa League semi-finals? Should Bobby Zamora be given a chance in the England World Cup squad?

Without the injured Fernando Torres, Liverpool lacked the cutting edge needed to unlock a well-drilled Fulham outfit that defended stoutly in the face of the home side's onslaught, and they were left to rue two dropped points in their chase for a top-four spot.

Rafa Benitez's team dominated the opening half and their best chance came when Ryan Babel floated a ball into the channel for the Maxi Rodriguez, who took the ball down beautifully before forcing a smart save from Mark Schwarzer.

The Australian had to be at his best again moments after as Javier Mascherano drove a shot towards the top corner, which the keeper did well to claw away as his side held firm going into the interval.

The barrage on the Fulham goal continued in the second period, however a Babel strike - turned behind by the impressive Schwarzer - was all they had to show for their dominance and Roy Hodgson's side left with a draw that capped off an impressive week following their progression into the Europa League semi-finals.

Dominated possession

The Reds had numerous opportunities to beat their fellow Europa League semi-finalists but drew a blank.

They also came up against a goalkeeper in good form in Schwarzer, who produced a number of saves including a fine stop from a powerful Babel drive.

Torres scored twice in Thursday's stunning victory over Benfica but left the field early to rest a knee injury.

Manager Benitez had expected the striker to be fit but he failed to even make the bench.

Dirk Kuyt and Lucas - Liverpool's other two scorers on Thursday - also had to make do with places among the substitutes along with Yossi Benayoun as Benitez made four changes.

David Ngog, Alberto Aquilani, Maxi Rodriguez and Babel were the men to come in but none made the difference against a resolute Fulham side.

Liverpool dominated possession throughout and Jose Reina, fresh from signing a new six-year contract, barely had a shot to save.

Yet their dependence on Torres was again all too evident. Fulham were able to boast their leading scorer and hero of their European run,

Bobby Zamora, following a fitness test on an Achilles injury, but the England World Cup hopeful endured a quiet afternoon.

The Reds should have taken the lead with just three minutes on the clock after Babel won a corner.

Steven Gerrard swung the ball in from the left and it was headed back towards goal by Daniel Agger after touching a Fulham defender.

It fell invitingly for Babel inside the six-yard box but the Dutchman failed to make any connection with a volley.

Gerrard created a chance for Ngog with a superb crossfield ball into the area but the Frenchman had to stretch and volleyed wide.

The tone for most of the afternoon was set with Liverpool much the livelier side but meeting continual frustration in the final third.

Another good move by Liverpool saw Gerrard pull back a Glen Johnson cross for Aquilani, who then flicked the ball up and attempted an overhead kick but Schwarzer saved comfortably.

Moments later Rodriguez took the ball down in the area to shoot but Schwarzer blocked.

Babel then delivered a good cross for Aquilani but the Italian headed over.

Frustrated

Mascherano tested Schwarzer with a powerful 30-yard drive just after the half-hour but the Australian saved well to his right.

Greening, already booked, was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for blocking Johnson 10 minutes before half-time as Liverpool continued to dominate without breaking through.

Liverpool pressed on and created three good chances for Aquilani after the break but the former Roma midfielder was unable to take any of them.

The first he scuffed weakly at Schwarzer before winning a corner with a shot the keeper palmed over the bar.

The ball came to him again soon after but this time he sliced wide from 25 yards.

Fulham spent large spells defending on the edge of their own area as Liverpool continued to push but they did so manfully, getting plenty of players behind the ball.

Gerrard got in a shot on target but Aaron Hughes blocked and Daniel Agger volleyed wide.

Schwarzer also seemed unbeatable, producing a brilliant save low to his right to keep put a fierce drive from Babel, cutting inside from the left.

Liverpool attempted to freshen up their attack by introducing Kuyt and Benayoun midway through the second half while Fulham withdrew the isolated figure of Zamora.

Kuyt was straight into the action and picked out Sotirios Kyrgiakos with a good cross only for the Greek to head over.

Another substitute, Daniel Pacheco, also had a powerful effort blocked. Time ran out for Liverpool and, not for the first time this season, their supporters left frustrated.

LiverpoolTeam StatisticsFulham
0Goals0
01st Half Goals0
7Shots on Target1
10Shots off Target0
9Blocked Shots2
10Corners1
8Fouls19
2Offsides0
1Yellow Cards3
0Red Cards0
86.7Passing Success72.3
20Tackles27
80Tackles Success74.1
64.8Possession35.2
66.2Territorial Advantage33.8

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 1 3
2 Manchester City 1 3
3 Arsenal 1 3
4 Liverpool 1 3
5 Swansea City 1 3
6 Aston Villa 1 3
7 Hull City 1 3
8 Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
9 Everton 1 1
10 Leicester City 1 1
11 Sunderland 1 1
12 West Bromwich Albion 1 1
13 Crystal Palace 1 0
14 Manchester United 1 0
15 Southampton 1 0
16 Queens Park Rangers 1 0
17 Stoke City 1 0
18 West Ham United 1 0
19 Burnley 1 0
20 Newcastle United 1 0

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