Liverpool battled their way to a nervy 2-1 victory at struggling Fulham on Sunday, with a positive result tinged with a few negative aspects.
Premier League, Craven Cottage
March 17, 2019
Goals: Mane 26′, Milner pen 81′; Babel 74′Milner’s Winning Mentality
James Milner is one of only two Liverpool players with a Premier League winners’ medal—Daniel Sturridge is the other—with the Reds’ lack of winning experience something many see as a shortcoming in their title quest.
Sure, others have won trophies abroad, with Fabinho lifting the Ligue 1 title with Monaco for example, but Milner is a figure the Reds often look to in big moments.
One of the most mentally resolute players in the squad, it was no surprise to see the 33-year-old step up when it really mattered, stroking home a vital penalty late on.
In truth, his second-half cameo was far from outstanding—his sliced clearance played a part in a calamitous equaliser—but few players are more nerveless from 12 yards.
Mohamed Salah‘s performances have been nowhere near as bad as some have claimed recently, with key contributions made despite his goalscoring drought.
The 26-year-old experienced a disappointing day against Fulham, however, and it is increasingly clear that his desperation for a 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool is taking its toll.
It never happened for Salah at any point on Sunday and he was guilty of being greedy in the final third, seemingly opting for personal milestones over his team’s success.
That may sound harsh, but the Egyptian needs to get this drought out of his head.
It is threatening to be to the detriment of his team-mates, and such is his brilliance as a footballer there is no doubting that the goals will flow again soon.
A golden opportunity late on summed up his current plight, but a key positive is that he continues to get himself in those positions.Complacency on Show?
Liverpool’s trip to Craven Cottage was meant to be a saunter in the spring sunshine, especially with confidence flowing after the midweek victory at Bayern Munich.
Despite controlling matters throughout though, the Reds were far too complacent as the minutes ticked by, with 1-0 always a horribly dangerous scoreline.
Anything can happen when you are only a goal up, and fortunately, Sergio Rico’s late foul on Sadio Mane and Milner’s subsequent spot-kick saved Liverpool’s blushes.
It is wrong to sound too negative on a day when the Reds went top of the Premier League, but this must be a warning sign ahead of the final seven league games of the season.Van Dijk’s “Weakness” Exposed?
Van Dijk has been a monstrous presence this season, putting together one of the great campaigns by a Liverpool defender.
Much of the talk in the buildup to the game was regarding former Reds winger Ryan Babel’s comments about Van Dijk having a “weakness.”
“He does have a weakness, I don’t want to say what it is. I don’t think in the Premier League anyone has made that aware yet,” said Babel.
Could it be that that weakness is his casual nature?
That was certainly on show when Babel capitalised on a limp header back by his Netherlands team-mate, eventually tapping into an empty net after similarly poor work by Alisson.
Van Dijk is the world’s best centre-back at the moment—one error shouldn’t change that—but if there is one minor criticism it is that he is almost too laid back for his own good sometimes, and that is something he himself has acknowledged.
Hopefully, that is the last mistake we see from him in an otherwise unrivalled season.Pressure on City
Right, let’s finish on a positive, seeing as Liverpool won!
Results are all that matter at this point in the season, and after experiencing the disappointment of the Fulham equaliser it was an impressive response by the Reds.
Three points were imperative at Craven Cottage and the win means Klopp’s team take a two-point lead over City, having played a game more.
While the champions remain favourites to retain their title in May, there is now a mental pressure on them heading into the international break.
Liverpool have done all they can to make them work for it, and it will be interesting to see how City respond when they themselves head to Fulham on March 30.
Pressure can do funny things.
We can all take a deep breath for a few weeks while the players head off to represent their countries—fingers crossed no injuries are picked up—and we go again at home to Tottenham in a fortnight.
Henderson was not present as the Reds fought back from a second-half scare to secure the three points at Craven Cottage and return to the top of the Premier League.
Having limped off after just 13 minutes of the 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich in midweek, the captain instead remained on Merseyside, with Fabinho taking his place in the starting lineup.
Called up by Gareth Southgate for the upcoming Euro qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro, it was speculated that Henderson could be forced to withdraw and be replaced by James Ward-Prowse.
But speaking after Liverpool’s latest win, Klopp provided a positive update on the 28-year-old’s fitness, saying he would be back fit in “three or four days.”
“It’s Hendo, and Hendo will go to the national team,” he told reporters.
“I think it will be two or three days still at Melwood, to make the rehab, and it looks positive.
“It looks positive, and I think he’s in contact with Gareth about when he can train in that moment, then he goes to the national team.
“If he plays, probably Gareth will decide then.
“But how I said after the [Bayern] game, it was really positive. Still not able to play today, but it was not that serious. Now in three or four days he should be fine.”
It is unlikely Klopp is entirely content with Henderson heading for duty with the Three Lions, with the preference no doubt being to remain on Merseyside and prepare for the visit of Tottenham on March 31.
But the positive is that the midfielder will be back fit soon, and able to boost Liverpool’s options in the middle of the park.
Naby Keita also missed Sunday’s win with a minor injury, but having been omitted from the Guinea squad to play the Central African Republic he can concentrate on his recovery.
Klopp’s side lead the Premier League table heading into the international break after moving two points clear of Manchester City, who have played one fewer fixture, but having come so close to a damaging draw at Craven Cottage.
Victory was ultimately secured in the 81st minute when Mane was perhaps fortunate to have been awarded a penalty following a challenge by the hosts’ goalkeeper Sergio Rico, and Milner scored from the spot.
“We want to stay in the race. That’s what we did,” said Liverpool boss Klopp. “Nothing is decided, but we can make sure we stay in the race.
“[First is] the best position you can be in. City don’t look as if they drop a lot of points, so we have to win, to win and to win. Now they have a game in hand but it was very important we won. We were really all very happy. You could see in our reaction.
“I didn’t see us panic. I liked how we reacted. The penalty doesn’t say we are sensational. Five or 10 minutes before the equaliser, we had so many little mistakes.
“We controlled the game completely, and then we gave Fulham the ball and the crowd woke up. But we had a very intense week, going to Munich, coming back, travelling to London, so I’m completely fine. Average game, sensational result.”
Klopp was asked whether Jordan Henderson would be fit for England’s Euro 2020 qualifiers with the Czech Republic and Montenegro, given his absence on Sunday with an ankle injury, and he responded: “He will go to the national team. He has two or three days still at Melwood, but it still looks positive.
“When it looks positive and he can train, he will go to the national team. He was not able to play, but it’s not that serious. In three or four days, it should be fine.”
Fulham, who are 13 points from safety with seven games to play, have lost their last seven games and their next fixture is at home to reigning champions City after the international beak.
Caretaker manager Scott Parker has so far overseen three defeats from three despite some improved performances and he is aware he needs to start producing results.
“I’m really disappointed,” the 38-year-old said. “We were well in the game. Then Sergio’s made a mistake and we couldn’t hold on to what would have been a massive point.
“I understand that, in the position I’m in, my main focus is seeing improvements. But I understand it’s about results. I want them more than anyone. Do I see an improvement? For sure I do. But we’re just trying to get some results.”
Virgil van Dijk held his hands up after making a rare, yet ultimately incidental, error during Liverpool’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Fulham.
The No.4 has been practically flawless throughout 2018-19, but played an unwitting part in Ryan Babel’s goal at Craven Cottage, which drew the home team level in the 76th minute.
A breakdown in communication between Van Dijk and Alisson Becker enabled the centre-back’s fellow Dutchman to nip in and score against his former club.
The man who would end up the Reds’ match-winner, James Milner, shouldered partial responsibility for the concession after the game, with Van Dijk doing the same.
“It’s one of those situations where you try to head it back. The ball was a little too short and it was a difficult ball to get, and Ryan was good to intercept the ball and score the goal,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It gave them some belief but obviously that happens sometimes in games. Mistakes are a part of football, you have to take it and I will as well.”
A victory that lifts Liverpool back above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League was earned by Milner’s ice-cool, 81st-minute penalty.
However, Van Dijk believes the visitors should have had the three points sewn up earlier.
“I think in the first half we could have maybe killed the game and scored a second goal and make it a little bit easier,” he said.
“In the second half they obviously had belief and they could play freely as they have nothing really to lose. I think we made it pretty difficult for ourselves with the goal we conceded obviously, but in the end we got the three points and that’s what matters.”
The Reds now sit two points clear of City, who have a game in hand, domestically and have a Champions League quarter-final against FC Porto on the horizon following their impressive victory over Bayern Munich in midweek.
On his side’s prospects heading into the final weeks of the season, Van Dijk continued: “[It’s] not bad, no. The media makes it sound even negative sometimes!
“It’s a fantastic position that we are in and we have to enjoy it but you know we want to go all the way. It’s going to be tough because Manchester City are fantastic and the Champions League is very tough like we know, so we’ll see. We will take it game by game.”
Last Updated: 18/03/19 11:13am5:40 Jurgen Klopp hailed his Liverpool side for retaking the lead against Fulham Jurgen Klopp hailed his Liverpool side for retaking the lead against Fulham
Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool are at the beginning of their development, not the end after their "massive" 2-1 win at Fulham on Super Sunday.
Liverpool went two points clear at the top of the Premier League above second-place Manchester City, who have a game in hand, as goals from Sadio Mane and James Milner (pen) gave them a nervy win.
Ryan Babel had equalised for Fulham after a mix-up involving Virgil van Dijk and Alisson with just 16 minutes remaining, and though Klopp said the game was "average", he was overjoyed with the scoreline.
📊Liverpool have dropped points against only 1 of their remaining 7 opponents in PL this season (drew v Chelsea & beaten Tottenham, Southampton, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolves) pic.twitter.com/qckwwkBcDY— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 17, 2019
He told Sky Sports: "Now I like the result more with the 2-1 than the 1-0, because coming back from a situation like that. I think we fully deserved to win the game. It was an average game, massive result.
"First half was a bit rusty. Second half we could have finished it off and then it is clear at 1-0 if you don't kill it off that can happen. Babel was there, that is how football is. They deserved a goal but we deserved three points. A brilliant afternoon I have to say.2:59 Highlights from Liverpool's 2-1 Premier League win at Fulham on Sunday Highlights from Liverpool's 2-1 Premier League win at Fulham on Sunday
"I am not in any doubt about my players' nerves. It is about intensity. We go for perfection but it is rare that you get it. People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end.
"They are cool enough. On our day we are a flying team, that's all there, but the consistency is rare."
Liverpool rounded off a fine week with the victory, having beaten Burnley 4-2 last Sunday and then Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 before being drawn with Porto in the quarter-final.Sadio Mane celebrates with Liverpool team-mates after opening the scoring
Klopp insists he needs to deal with the post-Champions League midweek matches better, but is delighted to go into the international break before returning to "fight" for the Premier League title with seven games remaining.
"We played Burnley, Munich and Fulham, it's like three different kinds of sports actually, and obviously it's difficult.Fulham vs Man City
March 30, 2019, 11:30am
"We started really well, and did a lot of good things but lost the rhythm a bit. I am not the most experienced manager and I have similar problems after Champions League games.
"Let's go, let's go for it, let's fight, all that stuff. Today we set again the basis for the finish, and it's good. We only have to win and I smile all day."Mane is the key man now
As Mohamed Salah's form has dipped, Sadio Mane has stepped up for Liverpool when it mattered most, writes Adam Bate.Mane is the key man now
It was the timing of Mane's run that was the key factor in the first goal but it's the timing of the forward's run of form that has been absolutely crucial to maintaining Liverpool's title push. They are back at the top of the Premier League and that could not have happened without him...Play Super 6
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Jürgen Klopp described Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Fulham as ‘an average game, a sensational result’ after his side returned to the summit of the Premier League.
James Milner kept his nerve to strike home a penalty with nine minutes of normal time remaining at Craven Cottage to ensure the Reds moved back to the top of the table, two points clear of Manchester City having played a game more.
The Reds had opened the scoring midway through the first half as Sadio Mane slammed in his 20th goal of the season; however, Ryan Babel levelled on 74 minutes when he netted against his former club following misjudgement between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
Read on for a summary of Klopp’s post-match press conference…
On the game and Liverpool’s performance...
We started better and then we lost the rhythm a little bit because of two things. Fulham are a really good football-playing side; I saw the last two games, and over the season I saw a few more, but I had to watch the last two games more intensely. They are a really good football-playing team, in the moment without getting really dangerous in front of goal. It means they play around and we have to run a lot, in a week where you played on Wednesday. For us, it would be easier if we’d had more chances to win the ball; you cannot win the ball because they just play around, you have to only close the gaps until they make a mistake or you win the ball one time. It’s a strange one, it’s so different to the two games we played in the week, Burnley, Munich and now Fulham. They were three nearly different kind of sports.
That cost us a bit of rhythm. We scored a wonderful goal and we could have had more of these situations, we were still dominant. But when they had the ball we had to work a lot. Second half, I thought we were a bit clearer in the situation and had better chances in the box, we immediately started better. That’s all OK, it’s a normal game against a good football team. We could have scored one or two more before Fulham. We let them back a bit into the game, with counter-attacks and passing the wrong ball. It’s just the intensity of the competition, it’s nothing to do with nerves. Trent passed the ball into the middle, they get the ball, pass only one time and then Babel is against one or two [defenders]. These situations hurt, but it’s normal.
The goal they scored, I thought a little bit we begged for it – there were two or three moments where we asked for it. There were two or three moments not exactly like that but they had their best moments in that period of the game – and then finally they scored. But then I actually saw the reaction of my players and I’m really pleased with that. It was a good reaction. After they got the equaliser, we were again much clearer than we were before the equaliser. So, all good, a good reaction. Not a perfect football game but, in a difficult week for us, a sensational result.
On Milner taking the penalty…
Mo scored a lot of goals and then he got the penalties as well, but when Millie is on the pitch I think it makes sense – wonderful. Doubts, no, but even Millie is a human being and you can fail. Very, very good.
On the character his team showed to respond after the equaliser…
Football is sometimes like this; now we got a penalty and we say we didn’t panic. I didn’t see us panic, that’s right – I liked how we reacted – but we needed a penalty for that situation. That doesn’t say we were sensational, the boys are human beings. I was sure we would not panic, we would not show the nerves you are all waiting for. We are long enough in this situation. We know it’s difficult for other teams to beat us, that always gives us the opportunity pretty much to win it. Most of the draws we had, we were closer to winning the game. That gives us confidence, that we know another chance will come – go for it and do the right things. We didn’t do the right things before; five or 10 minutes before the equaliser we had so many little mistakes that made it a wild game. We controlled the game completely and then we gave Fulham the ball, the crowd came and it was a bit more exciting again. We had a very intense week, going to Munich and coming back, travelling to London is not around the corner for us. So I’m completely fine – average game, sensational result.
On being top going into the international break…
It’s the best position you can be in. For us, it was clear – it is always clear – City don’t look like they’ll drop a lot of points, so we have to win and to win and to win. That’s our job to do. They don’t play today, we knew that, but now they have a game in hand. That doesn’t mean we are now far away from them or something like this. It is very important that we won today; I think you could see it in our reaction after the game, we are really all very, very happy about it. The most important thing now is they all come back healthy again. For quite a lot of players they will come up against quite an intense time, two games for most of them and then we start immediately against Tottenham. An interesting game against a really good football team. Nothing is decided, all we can make sure is we stay in the race – and we want to stay in the race. Today we showed that, so all good.
On whether Fulham could take confidence from their performance today into their next game with Man City…
It’s after the international break. I don’t know exactly how many international players Fulham have that will have to go, but City have a lot, I’m pretty sure, so that’s then always a different game. Fulham play good football. The next step for them, Scott [Parker] will do it by himself, but it is to create something and [create] chances or whatever. It didn’t feel that we were properly under threat even when they had the ball, to be 100 per cent honest, but a lot of things are really good. This is my second game against Fulham – my first game at Fulham – it’s kind of the DNA of the club, I know how they got promoted last year and they’re really a football-playing side. There is so much potential here. What I liked today is they looked quite calm, they’ve kind of accepted a situation and now come on, let’s play football again. They worked so hard for it, a few more years so hard for it, to get into the Premier League. Now maybe it looks like next year they will not be there, but ‘now let’s enjoy it still’ – and that’s how it was. [It was] difficult to play against them, I have to say, really difficult.
On whether Jordan Henderson will be back after the international break…
It’s Hendo. Hendo will go to the national team; two or three days at Melwood to do the rehab, but it looks positive. I think he is in contact with Gareth [Southgate] so when he can train in that moment, he will go to the national team. If he plays, Gareth will decide then, but it’s really positive. He was still not able to play today but it was not that serious – and now, in three or four days, he should be fine.
A nerveless late penalty by James Milner secured a vital 2-1 win for Liverpool at Fulham on Sunday.
Sadio Mane’s superb opener midway through the first half put the visitors in charge, but former Reds forward Ryan Babel levelled against the run of play with 76 minutes on the clock.
However, all three points were sealed five minutes later when substitute Milner stepped up to convert in front of an elated away end after Mane had been fouled in the area.
Here are five talking points to emerge from a dramatic afternoon at Craven Cottage…
Liverpool will spend the international break at the summit of the Premier League.
Top spot was reclaimed from Manchester City with Sunday’s victory, and the Reds now sit two points clear - albeit having played one game more than Pep Guardiola’s team - as the season edges towards its conclusion.
Next up: Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in a fortnight’s time.
With 11 goals in his last 11 appearances, it’s fair to say Mane is a man in form.
And, just four days on from his breath-taking brace at the Allianz Arena, Liverpool’s No.10 was at it again at Craven Cottage.
Slick, quick link-up with Roberto Firmino afforded Mane the chance to extend his rich vein of goalscoring form 26 minutes in - and it was no surprise whatsoever when he fired past Sergio Rico with unerring certainty.
That strike took the Senegalese to 20 for the season in all competitions - equalling his total for the entirety of 2017-18 - and means he now sits just one goal adrift of current Premier League Golden Boot front-runner Sergio Aguero, who has 18 to his name.
Liverpool still have seven Premier League games left to play this term - and they have already topped their points total for the whole of last season (75).
Their 31 top-flight matches to date in 2018-19 have yielded 23 wins, seven draws and just the one defeat.
And that the Reds’ current tally of 76 points has only been bettered four times by the club in the 28-campaign Premier League era is testament to the remarkable relentlessness of Klopp’s current vintage.
Late goal specialists
Eighteen of Liverpool’s 70 Premier League goals have now been scored in the final 15 minutes of games this season - more than any other team in the division.
In terms of significance, though, Milner’s ice-cool, 81st-minute spot-kick is right up there with the most important.
There were echoes of Steven Gerrard in 2013-14 as the No.7 stepped up in front of the visiting fans at Craven Cottage - same end, same outcome, same wild celebrations in the away end.
Milner has now scored 13 of the last 14 Premier League penalties he has taken, by the way. Not bad.
Seventeen Premier League starts, zero defeats.
Fabinho has now been on the winning side on 13 occasions when he’s been named in Liverpool’s XI in the top flight, with the other four matches ending in draws.
The Brazil international once again stamped his authority on proceedings in west London, with only Andy Robertson making more passes for the Reds than his 75.
Some 89.3 per cent of Fabinho’s passes were accurate too, putting him second behind Virgil van Dijk in the list of Liverpool players who started the match, while Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the only two players to have more touches than his total of 84.
James Milner's penalty kept Liverpool's Premier League title challenge on track with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Fulham on Sunday afternoon.
The vice-captain calmly converted a spot-kick nine minutes from time after a foul on Sadio Mane, whose first-half goal was cancelled out when former Reds forward Ryan Babel pounced on a defensive mix-up.
It meant Jürgen Klopp’s side moved back to the top of the table, two points clear of Manchester City having played one match more than the reigning champions.
Klopp made two changes to the XI that started in Munich in midweek, with Fabinho and Adam Lallana selected to replace Jordan Henderson, who missed out due to injury, and Milner.
Liverpool quickly established control of possession at Craven Cottage and Mohamed Salah’s eyes lit up when, just four minutes in, Lallana’s lofted pass over the defence was nudged into his path.
On this occasion, though, the Egyptian could only skew a shot wide of the target from the six-yard box.
Jean Michael Seri dispatched a curler from left to right too high to concern Alisson Becker at the other end, but it was a fleeting glimpse for the home side as the visitors dominated.
Andy Robertson might have done better than find the goalkeeper with a low cross after his sprint into space along the left was picked out by Joel Matip – a tactic consistently employed by Klopp’s men – and Trent Alexander-Arnold swept in a fine delivery from the other flank that evaded his teammates.
A more intricate move generated the breakthrough for Liverpool on 26 minutes.
Mane got it, having released Roberto Firmino into freedom in the left channel of the area and dashed into the middle to meet the return pass with a thudded finish beyond Sergio Rico.
The No.10 reached the 20-goal mark for the season with the emphatic conversion, equal with his tally for the entirety of the previous campaign.
Robertson saw a shot blocked from the angle after another clever give-and-go with Lallana, before Babel scampered clear of Alexander-Arnold down the left and pulled a pass back to Tom Cairney, whose strike sailed over.
And so Liverpool carried a one-goal advantage into the half-time interval.
With the weather worsening in London, the Reds continued to set the tempo in the game and Lallana’s persistence and strength in the area almost forced a second goal.
He managed to hold off a series of challenges and turn the ball to Georginio Wijnaldum; his diagonal hit across the hosts’ box was flicked towards goal by Firmino but blocked by Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Wijnaldum headed into the stand from Robertson’s cross, with Salah perhaps better placed behind him, and Rico then thwarted Virgil van Dijk’s nod after Fabinho had hoisted a delivery to the far post.
But with the deficit only one, Fulham began to rally and had the ball in the net on 64 minutes, though Floyd Ayite was offside when he diverted a deflected shot around the reach of Alisson.
Moments later, the Liverpool goalkeeper had to get down to collect a tricky strike from the edge of the box by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, following a breakaway led at speed by Babel.
With 20 minutes remaining, Klopp sent on Milner and Divock Origi for Lallana and Firmino, and from the resumption of play Mane guided a header from Alexander-Arnold’s corner off the crossbar.
It was a pivotal piece of misfortune, because Fulham soon levelled.
Milner’s clearance towards his own goal forced Van Dijk to shepherd possession back to Alisson but his pass fell short and Babel capitalised on their hesitations to tap into an unguarded net.
The Reds had to find another way – and they did.
The clock showed 80 minutes when Salah’s latest shot was fumbled by Rico, and Mane’s urgency on the follow-up drew a clumsy foul by the home stopper and earned a penalty.
Substitute Milner took responsibility from 12 yards and deftly clipped a cool finish down the middle to snatch three more crucial points in the Premier League title race.
Liverpool FC Women fell to a 3-0 defeat away to Manchester City FC Women in the quarter-final of the SSE Women’s FA Cup on Sunday.
Georgia Stanway netted twice and Janine Beckie was also on the mark for Nick Cushing’s side.
After impressive victories over MK Dons and Millwall Lionesses in the competition, Vicky Jepson knew her team faced a difficult test against a City side who are one of the strongest teams in the Women’s Super League.
The Reds started the game brightly with the pace of the recalled Rinsola Babajide causing plenty of problems for the City backline.
Babajide came close to the opening goal on 23 minutes when she cut inside and fired an effort just wide.
Two minutes later the home side were ahead when Beckie pounced to net beyond the reach of Anke Preuss.
England stopper Karen Bardsley was then the hero for the home side when she made a superb stop to deny Babajide an equaliser.
Jepson’s side applied themselves well again in the second half but City managed to get the key second goal when Stanway made it 2-0 on 68 minutes.
Liverpool FC Women had no luck in front of goal and substitute Leandra Little went close with a glancing header that landed just wide after a superb delivery from Jemma Purfield.
To rub salt into their wounds City added a third goal three minutes from time when Stanway grabbed her second goal of the contest.
Liverpool FC Women: Preuss, Robe, Purfield, Rodgers (Hodson, 90), Fahey, Bradley-Auckland, Babajide, Coombs, Sweetman-Kirk, Murray (Little, 75), Daniels.