MX23RW : Friday, March 22 09:02:03

Live Commentary: Fulham 1-2 Liverpool - as it happened

Relive Liverpool's narrow 2-1 win over Fulham as James Milner scores a late penalty to send the Reds back to the top of the Premier League table.
Live Commentary: Fulham 1-2 Liverpool - as it happened
© Reuters

Liverpool regained top spot in the Premier League table this afternoon courtesy of a narrow 2-1 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the title-chasing visitors shortly before the hour mark, but Liverpool failed to build on that lead before gifting Fulham an equaliser 14 minutes from time.

A misunderstanding between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to steal in and score what could have been a costly goal, but parity lasted just seven minutes as James Milner dispatched a penalty after Sergio Rico had dragged Mane to ground.

Find out how all of the action unfolded in West London courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

2.10pmGood afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash between Fulham and Liverpool!

It is second from bottom versus second from top at Craven Cottage, where Liverpool could move top of the table and Fulham are looking to kickstart the most unlikely of great escapes. Time really is running out for the hosts, but they face a Liverpool side that knows only a win will do for their title ambitions.

Kickoff is just five minutes away, so let's have a quick look at the team news before we get started...

2.12pmFULHAM STARTING XI: Rico; Fosu-Mensah, Chambers, Ream, Bryan; Seri, Cairney, Anguissa; Ayite, Mitrovic, Babel

SUBS: Fabri, Christie, Odoi, McDonald, Sessegnon, Kebano, Vietto

2.14pmLIVERPOOL STARTING XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Lallana; Salah, Firmino, Mane

SUBS: Mignolet, Lovren, Milner, Sturridge, Moreno, Shaqiri, Origi

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go! Fulham get us underway for what could be a huge game at both ends of the table!

3 minIt has been a positive start from Fulham, who have seen plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges. Neat passing has never been their problem this season, though, it is the telling moments at both ends of the field which have hurt them.

4 minThe first glimpse of goal for Liverpool as Lallana flicks the ball into the box and Chambers fails to deal with it. Salah manages to get in behind him, but can't catch his right-footed effort properly.

6 minSeri tries to clip a pass over the top for Babel to run on to, but the pair aren't on the same page and Matip deals with it easily.

8 minLiverpool are seeing more and more of the ball now. They have played a few nice bits of football in the Fulham half early on, but the final pass is just lacking at the moment.

9 minSHOT!  We've seen Seri hit them from distance already this season, but he doesn't get this one right. He tries a curler into the top corner from 25 yards, but Alisson watches it fly comfortably past the post.

11 minMagnificent pass from Matip as he picks out Robertson steaming down the left flank. The Scot gets the better of the defender before cutting inside, but with plenty of space he puts his low cross too close to the keeper.

12 minNow it's Van Dijk's turn to ping an outrageous pass forward, picking out Salah from a good 65-70 yards away, and on his weaker foot too. Bryan nicks the ball off Salah, but that was a great pass.

14 minAlmost a quarter of an hour gone in this match and still no shots on target from either side - Fulham will be happy with that. The hosts will need to push for a goal of their own at some point, though, as time is running out for their survival hopes.

15 minAlexander-Arnold whips a cross into the middle and as ever puts it into a good position, but it is just too far in front of Firmino.

17 minFulham are packing out the edge of the box when Liverpool are on the attack. They are very deep and very narrow, and Liverpool have not been able to find a way through that yet.

18 minCHANCE!  Decent chance for Liverpool from a corner as Matip is left in oceans of space. He tries to pick out the far corner, but doesn't get enough on his header when he probably should do better. Where was the Fulham marking there, though?

20 minFirmino tries to play the ball through for Salah, but Lallana is stood in his way and the ball ends up running behind for a goal kick.

22 minStill not too much to shout about in the opening quarter of this game so far. Fulham are doing a decent job of containing Liverpool, but the Reds aren't quite at their best so far either.

24 minBabel springs into life against his former club, bundling past Fabinho before exchanging passes with a teammate and seeing his eventual shot blocked before it can trouble Alisson.

25 minAnother good position goes begging for Liverpool, who just seem to be thinking about things too much when they get into the final third. Firmino picks the ball up in a good position and gives it to Lallana, but he is hesitant in the area and eventually it comes to nothing.


26 minGOAL!  There is the breakthrough, and it comes as Liverpool finally find that moment of quality in the attacking third!

Mane is given far too much room out wide left and brings it inside before playing a cute pass down the channel for Firmino. The Brazilian cuts it back from the byline back to the in-form Liverpool man, who applies the finishing touch to a devastating one-two.

Sadio Mane celebrates with teammates after opening the scoring for Liverpool against Fulham on March 17, 2019© Reuters

28 minSAVE!  Salah tries his luck from range and it looks like being an easy one for Rico, but he spills it at first. The poacher that is Van Dijk is sniffing around for it, but Rico collects it at the second attempt.

30 minHere is that incisive Liverpool opener from Mane, who now has 11 goals in his last 11 games for the club...

32 minThe onus really is on Fulham now - they were happy to contain Liverpool for the most part before but they now need to push more, which could in turn open up more space for Liverpool at the other end.

34 minAs a team, Liverpool's form has dropped off in 2019, but individually Sadio Mane is right up there with the best this year...

35 minCHANCE!  Salah carries the ball across the field before giving it to Robertson, who exchanges passes with Lallana to get in behind. The full-back doesn't have many options and therefore goes for goal, but Rico has his angles right and makes the save.

37 minSHOT!  A rare foray forward for Fulham as Babel beats Alexander-Arnold down the left before cutting the ball back for Cairney, but the midfielder's effort from range flies well off target.

39 minYELLOW CARD!  Fabinho picks up the game's first booking for a mistimed challenge on Cairney.

41 minThe Fulham fans want a quickfire second yellow for Fabinho as he brings Seri to ground. Referee Craig Pawson correctly ignores the appeals, but Fabinho will be walking a tightrope now.

43 minAnother impressive Mane stat...

45 minThere will one minute of added time at the end of this first half.


3.10pmLiverpool lead at half time at Craven Cottage following a dominant first-half display, although Fulham are still in this game with the deficit only at one.

Liverpool's level of dominance should translate into more than a one-goal lead, but they have not created as many chances as their possession might suggest.

3.12pmIt was the in-form Sadio Mane who got the only goal of the game so far, and it came from the standout piece of attacking quality from the opening 45 minutes.

The Senegalese forward exchanged passes with Firmino inside the area before sweeping home the return pass, after Firmino had picked him out with a really good cutback from the byline. That is now 17 Premier League goals for him this season, and 20 across all competitions.

3.14pmThe other notable chances have come from Liverpool too, with Salah snatching at an early one, Matip glancing a header wide when he should have done better and Robertson drawing a save from Rico.

Liverpool have enjoyed acres of space in the wide positions, but Rico has not been tested as much as he might have expected so far. Liverpool still need at least one more before they can relax, but they were comfortably on top in that first half.

3.16pmAs for Fulham, their only notable sights of goal have come from range as both Seri and Cairney have missed the target, but they will need to step things up in the coming 45 minutes.

Thirteen points separate them from safety with only seven-and-a-half games remaining, and defeat today would see them slip ever closer to an immediate return to the Championship. They have no choice but to throw caution to the wind.

46 minKICKOFF:  Liverpool get us underway for the second half at Craven Cottage. No changes for either side at the interval, but Milner was warming up vigorously during half time.

48 minQuick start to the half from Liverpool as Wijnaldum drills a low cross into the box which Firmino tries to flick home. Fosu-Mensah is in close attendance, though, and makes an important block.

50 minA cross from the right is missed by Fosu-Mensah and reaches Mane, but he takes too long over a decision and eventually plays it in for Robertson, who sees his cross blocked.

52 minCHANCE!  Big chance for Liverpool to double their lead as Robertson stands the ball up into the middle. Salah is coming in at the back post, but Wijnaldum stretches to get there in front of him and can only put his header over from close range.

54 minAlexander-Arnold whips a devilish corner into the box which Matip is interested in, but he can't get anything of it and it is also too far in front of Firmino at the back post.

56 minCHANCE!  Liverpool are peppering the Fulham box with crosses at the moment, and the latest falls to Van Dijk at the back post. He gets on the end of Fabinho's cross and tries to nod it back across the face of goal. Rico pushes it away, though, and it arrives at Matip too quickly for him to turn it home.

58 minFulham have the chance to break, but it is immediately snuffed out by Van Dijk. Unflappable from the Dutchman.

60 minWe're past the hour mark at Craven Cottage now and still the deficit remains just one, which means that Liverpool are still in this game. The Reds have looked more dangerous in the second half, but the rain is pouring down now and the conditions could make things more difficult from hereon in.

62 minReally good defending from Ream as he watches Salah all the way when one-on-one with the Liverpool man. It was a rapid break from the visitors with Salah choosing to go alone, but Ream did really well when Salah tried to cut back inside.

64 minIt is absolutely bucketing it down in West London at the moment. Torrential rain, when the match started in glorious sunshine.

64 minDISALLOWED GOAL!  There is a warning shot for Liverpool! Liverpool have the ball in the back of the net after a quick Fulham break, but it is quickly - and correctly - ruled out for offside against goalscorer Ayite.

65 minFULHAM SUB: Change for the hosts as Seri is replaced by Ryan Sessegnon.

66 minYELLOW CARD!  Anguissa goes into the book for a kick on Mane, although it wasn't malicious at all.

68 minSAVE!  Fulham are knocking on the door now! The hosts are suddenly flying forward with three on one, but Salah does really well to race back to help Robertson. Babel doesn't do enough, but it eventually falls to Ayite who draws a good save from Alisson.

69 minThis game is far from over, and if Liverpool didn't know that before then they certainly do now. Fulham are growing in confidence and Liverpool could do with a second as soon as possible to quell that fightback.

71 minImportant sweeping up from Alisson to come out and beat Mitrovic to Babel's through-ball. This is end-to-end stuff at the moment.

72 minLIVERPOOL SUBS: Double change for Liverpool here as Firmino and Lallana are replaced by Divock Origi and James Milner.

73 minOFF THE BAR!  Liverpool are within inches of a second as Mane darts to the front post and glances a looping header towards goal from a corner. The keeper can only watches as it flies past him before clipping the crossbar.

74 minFULHAM SUB: Change for Fulham as Cyrus Christie replaces Fosu-Mensah.


74 minGOAL!  Oh my word, what a big goal this could be in the title race! Liverpool's failure to add a second has been punished, and it is two of their best performers who are involved in a dreadful error!

Van Dijk tracks a long ball forward back towards his own goal before trying to nod the ball back to Alisson, but he doesn't put enough on it. Babel latches on to it, but Alisson still should do more as he misses the ball and leaves the former Liverpool man with the simplest of tap-ins.

76 minA huge, huge 15 minutes await in the title race here. Can Liverpool rescue three points here?!

77 minSalah tries to roll away from his marker before putting the ball into the box, but Bryan gets a touch on it and Rico collects at his near post.

79 minCrucial defending again from Bryan as he clears the ball away almost from underneath his own crossbar after a wicked delivery from Robertson. Moments later Origi tries his luck from range, but sees his effort deflected over for a corner.

80 minPENALTY!  Liverpool have a penalty! Rico spills Salah's effort into a dangerous area and then drags Mane back when trying to atone for it!


81 minGOAL!  Big, big response from Liverpool! Seven minutes after the equaliser, they regain the lead as Milner puts the penalty straight down the middle. The referee had no option but to point to the spot.

83 minFULHAM SUB: Another change for the hosts as Neeskens Kebano replaces Cairney.

85 minCLOSE!  Liverpool almost put the game to bed as Milner tees up Wijnaldum, who curls the ball just wide of the target from the edge of the box. That was not far away at all.

87 minCHANCE!  That goal just still will not come for Salah! Mane carries the ball forward and wait for Salah to join him before sliding the winger in. However, Salah then fires his finish straight at the keeper when he should have done better.

89 minSHOT!  ...and he really wants that goal too. Here he tries a shot on the turn from the edge of the box but fires it high and wide when there were again other options available.

90+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+2 minLIVERPOOL SUB: Final change for Liverpool as Daniel Sturridge replaces Salah.


4.13pmWell, wasn't that a scare for Liverpool?! It looked for a moment as though their title challenge might fall down at Craven Cottage, but they hit back and in the end James Milner's penalty sends them back to the top of the table heading into the international break.

Mane had earlier opened the scoring for the visitors, only for Babel to equalise after a horrible misunderstanding between Van Dijk and Alisson of all people.

4.15pmRight, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's contest as Liverpool survive an almighty scare to regain top spot in the table at the expense of Fulham, who look increasingly doomed. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

We also have live coverage of the second Premier League game of the evening between Everton and Chelsea coming up for you this afternoon, so be sure to check back in for that too!

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring against Bournemouth on February 9, 2019
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