November 11, 2018 / 2:06 PM / 6 months ago

Liverpool make hard work of victory over struggling Fulham

(Reuters) - Goals by Mo Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri took Liverpool from third place to the top of the Premier League for a couple of hours at least with a 2-0 victory over bottom club Fulham at Anfield on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Fulham - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - November 11, 2018 Liverpool's Sadio Mane REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

They moved above the other two unbeaten teams, Manchester City and Chelsea, who were both playing home games later on Sunday.

Juergen Klopp’s side made hard work of it for 40 minutes, however, and could easily have fallen behind.

Just before halftime the visitors’ Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic had a headed goal disallowed for offside by the closest of margins.

Liverpool immediately counter-attacked and Salah went clear to open the scoring.

Shaqiri’s side-footed volley after 53 minutes doubled the lead, pushing Fulham towards a sixth successive Premier League defeat, which equals a club record.

With only one win in their 12 matches, they remain two points behind the rest and have the worst defensive record in the league, having conceded 31 times.

Goalkeeper Sergio Rico, on loan from La Liga club Sevilla, kept Liverpool at bay for most of the first half, making two particularly good saves from Salah.

Ryan Sessegnon, the highly regarded midfielder, missed a good chance to give the Londoners a shock lead midway through the first half.

A flick by Mitrovic put him clear but the teenager pulled his shot wide.

Then came the double blow to Fulham, who felt not only that Mitrovic was just onside when he headed in after a short-corner routine but that the ball was moving when goalkeeper Alisson took the quick free kick that allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to send Salah through.

Less than 15 seconds had elapsed between the ball being in one net and the other.

Fulham had tried to play offside in vain and their defending was poor again when the unmarked Shaqiri scored with a precise sidefooted volley from Andy Robertson’s cross.

That seemed to knock the stuffing out of them and the only surprise was that Liverpool did not further improve their goal difference.

“We scored a lot of goals last season but this season we have been solid at the back as well,” said left back Robertson.

His manager was philosophical about the key refereeing decisions, citing a wrong offside call that went against Liverpool in their previous league game.

“Against Arsenal we scored a clearer goal and didn’t get it,” said Klopp, who had made four changes after the disappointing 2-0 defeat by Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday.

He also praised the quick reactions of his players to Fulham’s disallowed goal.

Slideshow (9 Images)

“The most important thing is the reaction, that was brilliant.

“Apart from (not) scoring more goals it was a really good performance. We created, passed, had big chances, so I’m completely happy.”

Understandably less happy was Fulham’s beleaguered manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who said of the two crucial decisions: “It’s shown disrespect to my team, myself and Fulham supporters.”

Reporting by Steve Tongue; editing by Clare Fallon

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