Liverpool suffered a sixth consecutive home defeat as Mario Lemina’s first-half goal sealed a 1-0 win for Fulham at Anfield.
The Cottagers pressed Liverpool from the get-go and had by far the better first half as Liverpool’s inexperienced defenders could barely handle the marauding Ademola Lookman down the left-hand side.
Yet with Lookman going close and Josh Maja forcing a fine save from Alisson, it looked as though Scott Parker’s men would fail to take advantage of their dominance ahead of the interval.
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But 60 seconds before half-time, Mario Lemina dispossessed Mohamed Salah on the edge of his own box before striking past Alisson and giving his side a well-deserved lead.
A plane flying over Anfield in the second half displayed a banner calling for unity, but Liverpool struggled for cohesion and inspiration and once again to find any real rhythm in the final third.
Diogo Jota forced a brilliant diving save from Alphonse Areola with a volley inside the box, but by and large Fulham defended brilliantly and restricted Liverpool to pot shots and speculative efforts from distance.
Substitute Sadio Mane hit the bar with a header in the closing stages but yet again Liverpool struggled for goals at home as the Cottagers took all three points and put the Reds' top four hopes in real jeopardy with yet another defeat.
Fulham, meanwhile, edge closer to Premier League survival as they go level on points with Brighton while remaining in the relegation zone on goal difference.
MAN OF THE MATCH - ADEMOLA LOOKMAN
From the first minute to the minute he was substituted, Ademola Lookman was a thorn in Liverpool's side as he ran the Reds' backline ragged. Flair, stepovers and dangerous balls into the box gave Fulham the momentum and the confidence they needed to win this one.
TALKING POINT - TOP FOUR IN JEOPARDY FOR TOOTHLESS REDS
Jurgen Klopp made seven changes ahead of this one but it was the same lacklustre, insipid Liverpool side we’ve grown so used to in 2021.
We keep thinking the Reds have hit their nadir but each week there’s a new low that puts their top four chances in further and further doubt.
They’re four points off the Champions League spots now, with all the sides above them having played fewer matches. They need to get better, very, very soon.
Liverpool: Alisson 6, N Williams 5, R Williams 5, Phillips 4, Robertson 5, Milner 4, Wijnaldum 5, Keita 3, Shaqiri 5, Salah 4, Jota 6. Subs. Fabinho 6, Mane 6, Alexander-Arnold 6.
Fulham: Areola 7, Tete 7, Andersen 8, Tosin 8, Aina 6, Reed 7, Lemina 8, Lookman 9, Cavaleiro 7, Decordova-Reid 6, Maja 7. Subs. Mitrovic n/a, Loftus-Cheek 6, Robinson 6.
45’ - GOAL! LIVERPOOL 0 FULHAM 1 (Lemina) - Wow! Yet another setback for Liverpool. Salah is dispossessed on the edge of the box by Lemina who just whacks it into the corner across Alisson. Simple and well deserved. Salah had to do better there though. Parker is buzzing on the sidelines!
49’ - SAVE! That's more like it! Areola pulls off a brilliant save as Jota volleys goalwards from 12 yards. The 'keeper dives to punch the ball up and out. What an equaliser that would have been.
71’ - 20 minutes left of normal time and Liverpool are yet to create a real opening aside from that Jota volley. BUT! BAR! The loopiest of headers from Mane strikes the bar.
90+3’ - WOW! Andersen with an unbelievable block at the death! Robertson is in down the left and squares for Mane but Andersen is there to clear it. Brilliant defending. Keita is booked among the chaos.
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