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Barclays Premier League

Craven Cottage (ATT 25,693) 9th May 2011 - Kick off 20:00 Ref: L Mason

Fulham Fulham vs Liverpool Liverpool

Fulham 2

M Dembele (57)
S Sidwell (86)

ft

Liverpool 5

M Rodriguez (1, 7, 70)
D Kuyt (16)
L Suarez (75)

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Maxi magic destroys Fulham

Argentinian ace claims another hat-trick in Reds romp

By Ben Collins.   Last Updated: 09/05/11 10:55pm

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Maxi: Hat-trick hero

Maxi: Hat-trick hero

A Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick set Liverpool on course for a thrilling 5-2 win at Fulham.

The Reds had the chance to climb above Tottenham into fifth place and took full advantage, charging into a 3-0 lead inside 16 minutes.

Maxi gave them a dream start as he swept in the opener after just 32 seconds and the Argentinian midfielder doubled Liverpool's lead just six minutes later.

A Mark Schwarzer error then gifted Dirk Kuyt his fifth goal in five games as the Reds ran riot against a Fulham side which won their last two games 3-0 and had kept six clean sheets in their last seven home games.

Moussa Dembele pulled one back for the hosts in the 57th minute but Maxi restored Liverpool's three-goal cushion in the 70th minute with his seventh goal in three games, which have included two hat-tricks.

Luis Suarez then claimed a richly-deserved goal five minutes later yet Steve Sidwell scored the goal of the night late on, smashing in a 25-yard half-volley to claim a consolation for the Cottagers.

Man of the Match: Luis Suarez was so good he even topped hat-trick hero Maxi Rodriguez. The Uruguayan striker just would not stop running, causing no end of problems for the Fulham defence. He repeatedly turned his marker, ran at defenders and lost his man to got into those little pockets, just as he did for his deserved late goal. Moment of the Match: Maxi's superb 20-yard strike gave Mark Schwarzer no chance and sealed a second hat-trick in just three games. Goal of the Match: That strike was, in fact, topped by Steve Sidwell's late consolation for Fulham, a fine half-volley from 25 yards that flew into the top corner. Gaffe of the Match: Liverpool's first goal came after a comedy of errors in the Fulham defence but Mark Schwarzer's howler for the third was even worse as he let a tame Dirk Kuyt shot through his grasp at his near post. Save of the Match: It would have been even worse for Fulham had Schwarzer not denied Jonjo Shelvey low to his left at the death. Talking points: Just how good was this Liverpool performance? Could they even be title contenders again under Kenny Dalglish next season?

Manchester United are set to surpass Liverpool by securing a record 19th league title but on this showing Liverpool could be serious contenders again next season - and all this without captain Steven Gerrard and record signing Andy Carroll.

Carragher landmark

Carroll didn't even travel as he suffered a slight injury in training but Jamie Carragher remained in defence to make his 666th appearance for Liverpool - moving him second on the club's all-time list.

Yet it soon became apparent it would not be a bad omen for Liverpool as Aaron Hughes' slip let Suarez in, Carlos Salcido and Schwarzer then made a hash of clearing his low cross and Maxi took the chance to convert from 10 yards.

Chris Baird then played Glen Johnson onside and the full-back crossed for Maxi to turn the ball in from close range at the far post.

Liverpool were rampant, to the glee of a large travelling contingent, and Suarez saw a penalty appeal turned down before a howler from Schwarzer made it 3-0.

There was little power in Kuyt's shot from just inside the penalty area but the goalkeeper allowed the ball to squirm underneath him at the near post.

Maxi turned Suarez's cut-back over as Fulham continued to be run ragged out wide, although just before the break, Fulham's Clint Dempsey saw Johnson clear his half-volley off the line from Simon Davies' corner.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes threw on Bobby Zamora for Davies at the break and the England striker had an immediate impact, leading to Dempsey firing just over from the edge of the box.

Eidur Gudjohnsen also dragged a 20-yard effort wide before Baird fed Zamora, who laid off for Dembele to take a touch before curling home beautifully beyond Jose Reina.

Suarez superb

Liverpool remained a threat on the break, though, particularly through the fine movement of the effervescent Suarez.

Yet it was Maxi who killed off any hope of a Fulham fightback, completing his hat-trick with a stunning 20-yard drive into the top corner.

Suarez made it another five-star performance for Kenny Dalglish's men when he raced onto substitute Jonjo Shelvey's through-ball and rounded Schwarzer to prod home his fourth Liverpool goal.

The Uruguay striker beat the offside trap again moments later only to blaze over while Sidwell pounced on a loose clearance and fired into the top corner.

Liverpool kept coming forward, though, and Schwarzer denied Shelvey before Jay Spearing and Kuyt both had efforts blocked on the line late on.

FulhamTeam StatisticsLiverpool
2Goals5
01st Half Goals3
4Shots on Target9
4Shots off Target7
4Blocked Shots1
6Corners5
17Fouls12
1Offsides1
5Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
77.4Passing Success74.8
17Tackles25
76.5Tackles Success76
49.1Possession50.9
56.8Territorial Advantage43.2

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Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 31 73
2 Arsenal 32 66
3 Manchester United 32 65
4 Manchester City 32 61
5 Liverpool 32 57
6 Southampton 32 56
7 Tottenham Hotspur 32 54
8 Swansea City 32 47
9 West Ham United 32 43
10 Stoke City 32 43
11 Crystal Palace 32 42
12 Everton 32 38
13 Newcastle United 32 35
14 West Bromwich Albion 32 33
15 Aston Villa 33 32
16 Sunderland 32 29
17 Hull City 32 28
18 Queens Park Rangers 33 26
19 Burnley 32 26
20 Leicester City 31 25

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