Reds slump, Fulham triumph
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: 22/10/05 4:55pm
Those present at Craven Cottage paid their respects to Johnny Haynes and then saw Fulham do a favourite son proud as they outbattled Liverpool in an impressive 2-0 victory.
Collins John scored his third goal in as many games on the half hour mark before Luis Boa Morte doubled Rafa Benitez's woes when he grabbed Fulham's second in stoppage time.
Much has been made of Liverpool's lethargic domestic displays in comparison with their clinical European raids and never was it more so apparent than on their latest trip to the capital.
The first period did nothing to dispel any notion that suggests Benitez has created a side for the continent but not The Premiership, as Liverpool's players played with a complete lack of wit, vitality or spark.
It was a truly leaden performance, Harry Kewell toiled on his return but understandably looked ring-rusty, Fernando Morientes continues to look a pale imitation of the colossus that reigned in Spain and without Steven Gerrard, Liverpool lack a heart.
Fulham should have been ahead within five minutes but on his first Premiership start, Australian Ahmad Elrich failed to read the script and contrived to sky the ball over when left unattended five yards from goal.
Better than results have suggested, Fulham were eager and crisp in the tackle and whilst their passing at times lacked a cutting edge, their desire to keep the ball on the floor would have pleased Haynes.
When the goal arrived it will be Josemi who has to take responsibility, as he failed to come out in unison with the rest of Liverpool's back-four, allowing John to take the ball on his chest and finish calmy from the penalty spot.
If Liverpool created not a single chance worthy of note in the first period, then at least after the interval they caused occasional consternation, for first Mark Crossley and then Tony Warner, who replaced the veteran when he pulled-up midway through the half.
Kewell's forty yard lob threatened to embarrass a stranded Crossley when he punched meekly, but the ball landed on the top of his goal, before Warner - albeit inadvertently - became a super-sub.
An outstretched glove denied Morientes on the volley and then Liverpool substitute Luis Garcia thought he had scored but Warner was equal to the Spaniard's curling effort with a fabulous sprawling tip wide.
Sami Hyypia, thrown forward, connected well with a volley but Warner again did well at his near post before the industrious Djibril Cisse threatened again but his snapshot from the angle was parried over.
Into stoppage and Malbranque's clever approach on the left caught Liverpool flat-footed, Boa Morte was played in with a disguised pass and from eight yards he crashed the ball high and past Jose Reina at his near post to earn Fulham a deserved three points.
Fulham v Liverpool player ratings.
|3||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||8|
|10||Total Fouls Conceded||15|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||16||28|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||16||17|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||16||14|