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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Fulham 1-0 Liverpool
By John Sinnott

Fulham celebrate Clint Dempsey's goal
Dempsey signed from New England Revolution
Clint Dempsey's first goal for Fulham secured a narrow win over Liverpool to ease their relegation worries.

Liverpool should have been ahead by the time substitute Dempsey sidefooted the ball past Jose Reina on 68 minutes.

Three times Antti Niemi was tested by Craig Bellamy and three times the Fulham keeper denied the Welshman.

Robbie Fowler missed an open goal for Liverpool, while Vincenzo Montella hit the post for Fulham, who had Papa Bouba Diop red-carded after a second booking.

This was Fulham's first victory in 11 league games as well as the first time they had won under caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez.

With the Champions League final looming, Liverpool's side, with nine changes, was unrecognisable from the one that got the better of Chelsea in midweek.


Along with Jermaine Pennant, goalkeeper Jose Reina was the other player not be rested and the Spaniard, who saved two penalties in Tuesday's shootout, kept Fulham at bay until Dempsey's goal.

He athletically punched clear Brian McBride's cross in the first half and after the break frustrated the American for a second time when he got to the ball before the Fulham striker.

But there was nothing Reina could do to stop Dempsey's shot.

The American started and finished the move, dissecting Liverpool's defence with a one-two with Liam Rosenior, before sweeping the ball past Reina.

This was Liverpool's ninth league loss on their travels this season and their inability to take advantage of a number of chances was key to their defeat.

The majority of those chances fell to Bellamy, who early on twice forced saves from Antti Niemi.

It was not long before Bellamy was in the box again, though this time he was unable to shoot, after he was tackled by Bouba Diop.

Xabi Alonso
Xabi Alonso looked to be headbutted by Michael Brown

Having survived those scares, Fulham began to show some attacking intent, with Montella's acrobatic bicycle kick striking the post after it deflected off Xabi Alonso.

Moments later Liverpool's Spanish midfielder had to go off for a treatment for a bloody nose after he appeared to be headbutted by Michael Brown, an infringement that went unpunished as referee Steve Bennett was looking the other way.

Towards the end of the first-half Bellamy troubled the Fulham defence twice more, flashing a shot past the post and sending over a dangerous cross that was diligently cleared by Zat Knight.

Bellamy's striking partner Fowler should have then given Liverpool the lead, but he somehow failed to steer the ball home with the goal at his mercy.

If Liverpool probably had the better of the first-half, that was never the case after the break, particularly following Dempsey's introduction, his strong running unsettling the visitors' defence.

Even so Liverpool continued to create chances, Niemi once more denying Bellamy with a reaction save, while substitute Harry Kewell - making his first appearance for Liverpool since the 2006 FA Cup final - flashed a shot past the post.

Bouba Diop was dismissed after he collected a second booking, but Fulham held on to secure three priceless points.

  • Fulham caretaker boss Lawrie Sanchez:
    "People tell me it's mathematically possible to be relegated so until it's proven we're safe I'll save the relief.

    "But we took a big, big step today. It was a big ask of the players.

    "Michael Brown said he and Alonso ran into each other, there was no headbutt. I believe my captain if he says that. He did say they clashed heads but added there was no intent."

  • Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on Brown's challenge on Alonso:
    "You can use 20 referees, 2,000 cameras and a lot of electronic systems but if you don't want to see it you won't. Unbelievable.

    "If the officials had seen it then it could have changed the game.

    "Big money has been spent in the electronics system for the officials yet nobody could see anything."

    Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Christanval, Knight, Bocanegra, Radzinski (Volz 90), Brown, Diop, Davies, Montella (Dempsey 53), McBride (Helguson 86).
    Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Routledge.

    Sent Off: Diop (90).

    Booked: Diop, Brown.

    Goals: Dempsey 69.

    Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Paletta, Hyypia, Insua (Finnan 75), Pennant (El Zhar 65), Alonso, Sissoko, Gonzalez (Kewell 77), Fowler, Bellamy.
    Subs Not Used: Padelli, Hobbs.

    Booked: Fowler, Arbeloa.

    Att: 24,554

    Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

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