Transformed Fulham takes one step closer to safety with famous Liverpool win
Scott Parker made two changes from the dominant team but failed to score against Crystal Palace last weekend; Ruben Loftus-Cheek fell onto the bench as West Londoners looked to Ademola Lookman and Bobby Decordova-Reid to trouble a fragile Liverpool with their pace. And that’s exactly what they did.
Harrison Reed and Lemina were aggressive in midfield, while Lookman ran twice behind on the left to shoot wide the first time around before seeing a second attempt deflected over the bar.
They had to stay vigilant in the back. Mohamed Salah was smothered by Alphonse Areola after Liverpool jumped on a loose ball before sneaking and shooting from the edge of the area. Xherdan Shaqiri also found the top of the net with a plunging free kick.
But it was on Parker’s side with the initiative and the fight. They looked like they would have to spoil more missed opportunities before the break before Lemina struck in the last minute of the first half.
The Gabon international, who is on loan from Southampton and will join definitively if Fulham beat the drop, pushed his way past Salah to win the second ball on a free kick before pulling a weak effort perfectly into the far corner – nothing less than the visitors deserved.
Liverpool responded quickly after the restart, with Areola making a magnificent save to deny Diogo Jota’s fierce volley as Jurgen Klopp sent Sadio Mane just past the hour mark.
Parker knew what was to come and, with Liverpool controlling the ball but not yet having created much, the Fulham manager sent Loftus-Cheek to forward Josh Maja to protect his lead.
Liverpool struggled, Shaqiri fired a shot past Areola’s goal but couldn’t find an equalizer as the Frenchman, with Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Anderson in the lead, faced whatever came their way .
Newcastle are Fulham’s closest rival downstairs. Brighton lost more points on Saturday but should have the quality to beat the drop, while Steve Bruce presides over meltdowns and turgid football as shown in their 0-0 draw with West Brom.
As the Magpies fight the fires, Parker has never given up and has everyone with him.
“Scott Parker knows how to make the players feel good, that they feel confident,” Frank Zambo Anguissa said in the Observer on Sunday morning. “He always finds the words to reach us. If he tells you it’s possible, you believe it’s possible.”
Fulham are hard to beat at the back – Liverpool have scored more goals this season – and are attractive to watch in the future.
The Cottagers welcome Newcastle, who are one point ahead with a game in hand, on the last day of the season. Parker will have no illusions that this season will go on the wire.
The former midfielder has done a tremendous job in West London since his drop in with their relegation almost confirmed two seasons ago. For a Newcastle side that features football on display this weekend, staying one step ahead of a Fulham side that have struggled after a dismal start with a good mix of courage and glamorous football would be a challenge. parody.
Parker just hopes that their bad start doesn’t ultimately call into question everything that followed.