Liverpool added to the pressure on Manchester United with a 1-0 win over Fulham, moving them within four points of fourth place as Mohamed Salah’s winner brought them even closer to a Steven Gerrard record.
There was none of the drama or histrionics of Sunday’s 4-3 win over Tottenham as it brought a fifth successive Premier League win for the first time since April last year.
Salah’s 39th-minute penalty, his second in consecutive games after back-to-back misses, took him to 185 goals for the club, one behind Gerrard, while he also ranked fifth on Salah’s all-time goalscorer list. the club league with 136.
Coach Jurgen Klopp’s behavior in the technical area was exemplary after a misconduct charge from the Football Association over comments about Sunday’s referee Paul Tierney.
Perhaps he was making the most of his time on the touchline, as he has until Friday to answer the charges and, having already served a one-match ban this season, the punishment could be much harsher.
Klopp had written in his program notes that winning 3-0 in the first 15 minutes against Tottenham, a game they ultimately won with an added-time goal, had caused them some problems.
And while it looked like they could replicate that with Trent Alexander-Arnold only having three attempts on goal in the first 10 minutes, they lacked some of the sharpness they had displayed over the weekend.
Furthermore, Fulham were also more organized than their fellow Londoners and that cut the chances by half at best.
Alexander-Arnold’s advanced position entering midfield allowed him to close in on his opponents’ goal but, unusually for him, he was wide on two attempts with another meek strike at goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Salah, whose cross barely evaded Darwin Nunez from eight yards out, weaved his way through a pair of defenders near the end line but was unable to find the target from a tight angle, while Luis Diaz also had a deflected shot wide.
Liverpool’s dominance of control in the opposing half was almost absolute, regularly regaining possession before Fulham had time to begin the appearance of an attack, but in their own final third it was much less.
Virgil Van Dijk had to slide to deflect a Harry Wilson cross after the former Liverpool winger burst into space behind Kostas Tsimikas, with Carlos Vinicius taking advantage of Ibrahima Konate’s hesitation to force a fine save from Alisson Becker.
When the breakthrough came, it was no surprise that it came from counter-pressure after Núñez had initially lost possession 15 yards outside the Fulham penalty area.
Tosin Adarabioyo sent a short pass to Issa Diop, but the centre-half, back in the squad due to Tim Ream’s season-ending injury, was slow to make his clearance and Nunez pounced on him like a shot to cut off the ball. on the toes with the The Frenchman’s swing into the fresh air hits the striker’s rear leg as he brushed past him.
Referee Stuart Attwell signaled the point and Salah scored a penalty identical to Spurs’, shot straight into the middle.
The second half was more or less the same, with Liverpool applying most of the pressure without really pushing their advantage.
That made their slim lead vulnerable and Alisson had to save well from Vinicius to avoid an equalizer with 13 minutes remaining to keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
However, they are still confident United will drop points as their arch-rivals have two games to go, starting in Brighton on Thursday.