Premier League – Fulham hold Liverpool

A lacklustre Liverpool failed to exploit Chelsea‘s inability to beat Newcastle after they were held to a goalless Premier League draw by Fulham at Anfield.

FOOTBALL Liverpool Fulham Torres Pantsil - 0

A poor match mirrored Chelsea’s own bore-draw with the Magpies and Liverpool stay second, behind Chelsea on goal-difference.

Liverpool lacked the injured Steven Gerrard and left Xabi Alonso on the bench and, as a result, were strangely subdued going forward.

Apart from Mark Schwarzer‘s superb save from Robbie Keane after the ball kindly deflected into the path of the Irishman off strike partner Fernando Torres, the hosts barely troubled the Cottagers with Keane in particular looking sluggish and Torres’s keen running not matched by his shooting.

Keane’s chance aside, the first half was Fulham’s in terms of opportunities.

Andrew Johnson poked weakly at Reina when put through following a corner, while Jimmy Bullard forced consecutive saves from Pepe Reina, first with a sweet strike from the edge of the box and then with the subsequent corner.

Liverpool started the second half with more vigour and Torres forced Schwarzer to tip the ball behind after a smart run inside from the left wing.

The corner that followed caused the visitors some problems, although Dirk Kuyt could not convert at the far post.

The Dutchman had a superb chance to put his side ahead on 70 minutes when, after a good move that involved Alvaro Arbeloa and Albert Riera, he angled a rising drive to the top-right corner only to be denied by an excellent stop from Schwarzer.

Alonso was introduced for the sluggish Javier Mascherano and the Reds immediately upped the ante.

Kuyt, who started the match on the right wing, adopted a more advanced role and popped up on the left to send a shot flashing inches over the top right corner.

Liverpool started to control the game, as Ryan Babel came on and immediately sent a low drive just wide after leaving Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil for dead.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez surprisingly brought Kuyt off for young Frenchman Nabil El-Zhar, a relatively defensive move that tightened their formation but reduced their impact going forward.

Fabio Aurelio sent a low volley wide after Fulham failed to fully clear a corner and Alonso summed the match up when he sent a shot from the edge of the box into row Z.

Torres could have won it in the final minute but his shot was deflected over for a corner, and Fulham ran the clock down to hold on for an excellent draw that puts them ninth.

Reda Maher / Eurosport