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Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 17:10 GMT
Liverpool see off Fulham
Liverpool's Murphy celebrates with goalscorer Anelka
Fulham 0-2 Liverpool
E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

Liverpool kept up the pressure on the Premiership pace-setters with a crucial win at Fulham.

Nicolas Anelka struck early in the first half to provide the platform for a typically resilient Liverpool performance.

And substitute Jari Litmanen added a second in the final seconds to keep Liverpool right in the title-chasing pack with Manchester United, Newcastle United and Arsenal.

Liverpool were not at their best, but once again demonstrated the priceless ability to grind out vital results despite failing to hit the heights.

Assistant manager Phil Thompson will have been delighted by Liverpool's ruthless edge up front, which punished Fulham's failure to take advantage of a succession of chances.


Results like this show the fantastic character in this Liverpool side
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
Anelka's intervention with his second goal in successive weeks demonstrated his increasing influence on Liverpool's season, while Litmanen showed exactly why he is a cult figure at Anfield with a brilliant second.

Liverpool decided to rest Michael Owen and paired Anelka with Emile Heskey in attack.

It was a move that paid almost instant dividends when the France striker put Liverpool ahead after 13 minutes, scoring at the second attempt with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area after his first effort struck Rufus Brevett.

Fulham's response was spirited, with Jean Tigana's team undaunted by going behind to the Anfield championship chasers.

Jari Litmanen scores Liverpool's second
Jari Litmanen scores Liverpool's second
Steve Marlet and Steed Malbranque combined with fellow countryman Louis Saha, but his volley rebounded to safety off the bar.

And Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz was forced into a brilliant saving tackle on Marlet as he shaped to shoot.

The Swiss defender needed lengthy treatment, but his pain will have been equalled by Liverpool's pleasure at Henchoz's bravery.

Luis Boa Morte twice threatened as Fulham pushed forward, and Liverpool were slightly fortunate to survive until half-time unscathed.

Fulham's fans were furious two minutes after the interval when Boa Morte tumbled under challenge from Abel Xavier.

The Craven Cottage crowd waited expectantly for referee Alan Wiley to point to the spot - but he caused uproar by refusing their claims and booking Boa Morte for diving.


I thought we were unlucky and Liverpool were lucky - I thought he minimum we deserved was a point and the players gave their maximum
Fulham assistant manager Christian Damiano
Liverpool's attacking efforts had been few and far between, but Danny Murphy forced Fulham keeper Edwin van der Sar into a fine save from 25 yards.

Van der Sar's opposite number Jerzy Dudek, back after a groin injury, was in action seconds later with an excellent block from Steve Marlet's header.

Fulham's performance summed up their season - plenty of effort and pretty passing but no precision in front of goal.

And as the seconds ticked away, Marlet delivered another example of their wastefulness when he escaped the attentions of the Liverpool defence but pulled his left foot shot wide.

They were punished when, in stoppage time, substitute Litmanen made sure of the points by nodding Xavier's long ball past the stranded van der Sar and then scoring from a tight angle.


Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Goma, Ouaddou, Brevett, Legwinski, Malbranque, Davis (Clark 25), Saha, Marlet, Boa Morte (Hayles 66), Clark (Collins 76).

Subs Not Used: Taylor, Melville.

Booked: Legwinski, Brevett, Boa Morte.

Liverpool: Dudek, Xavier, Hyypia, Henchoz, Wright, Smicer (Barmby 71), Hamann, Murphy, Riise, Anelka (Litmanen 80), Heskey.

Subs Not Used: Kirkland, McAllister, Owen.

Booked: Wright, Hyypia.

Att: 21,103

Ref: A Wiley (Burntwood).

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Steve Wilson
"This was a big win for Liverpool"
Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson
"Anelka had a great game"
Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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