Mohamed Salah’s penalty just before the break was enough to earn Liverpool a narrow victory over Fulham at Anfield on Wednesday night.
There was none of the drama of Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Spurs in growing up of Liverpool fifth consecutive Premier League victory for the first time since April last year.
Salah’s 39th-minute penalty, his second in consecutive games after back-to-back misses, took him on 185 goals for the Premier League giants, one behind Gerrard, as he finished fifth on the club’s all-time goalscorers list with 136 goals. .
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s behavior in the technical area has been the very model of exemplary following a misconduct charge by the Football Association over comments about Sunday referee Paul Tierney.
He was perhaps making the most of his time on the touchline, as he has until Friday to respond to the charges and, having already served a one-match ban this season, the punishment could be much harsher.
Klopp had written in his schedule notes that going 3-0 up in the first 15 minutes against Tottenham – a game they eventually won with an added-time goal – had given them some trouble.
And while they started looking as if they could do it again with Trent Alexander-Arnold alone making three attempts on target in the first 10 minutes, they lacked some of the clarity they’d shown at the weekend.
Furthermore, Fulham were also more organized than their fellow Londoners and this reduced the chances to half chances at best.
Alexander-Arnold’s forward position in midfield allowed him to get close to the opposition goal but, unusually for him, he went wide on two tries with another tame shot to goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Salah, whose cross just eluded Darwin Nunez eight meters out, swept past a pair of defenders near the backline but failed to find the target from a tight angle, while Luis Diaz also had a shot deflected wide .
Liverpool’s command of control in the opposition half was almost absolute, regularly regaining possession before Fulham had time to initiate the semblance of an attack, but much less so in their own final third.
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Virgil Van Dijk had to slide down to deflect Harry Wilson’s cross behind after the former Liverpool winger had entered the space past Kostas Tsimikas, with Carlos Vinicius exploiting Ibrahima Konate’s hesitation to force a good save by Alisson Becker.
When the breakthrough came it was no surprise that it came from a counter press after Nunez had initially lost possession 15 yards outside the Fulham penalty area.
Tosin Adarabioyo set up a short pass to Issa Diop but the midfielder, who returned to the squad due to Tim Ream’s season-ending injury, hesitated to make his pass and Nunez was on him like a shot to take the ball away from the toes with the French swing in the open air catches the attacker’s rear leg as he passes him.
Referee Stuart Attwell pointed to the spot and Salah scored a penalty identical to the one against Spurs, shot straight into the centre.
The second half was much the same, with Liverpool applying most of the pressure without really packing their lead.
This left their slim lead vulnerable and Alisson had to save well from Vinicius to avoid an equalizer with 13 minutes left to keep alive their slim hopes of Champions League qualification.
However, they still rely on United to drop points as their arch-rivals have two games in hand, starting with Brighton on Thursday.
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