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Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 19:31 UK

Fulham 0-1 Liverpool

By Ian Hughes

Liverpool players celebrate
Benayoun's goal keeps Liverpool in the hunt for a first league title since 1990

Liverpool moved top of the Premier League with a dramatic injury-time winner from Yossi Benayoun at Fulham.

The Reds, now above Manchester United by two points having played two games more, struck very late after hitting the woodwork four times in the match.

Andrea Dossena hit the bar twice - each time with a header, Xabi Alonso volleyed against the bar and Fernando Torres dragged a shot against the post.

But on 92 minutes, Benayoun drove in from 12 yards to snatch victory.

Benyoun's strike was met with wild celebrations on the touchline as Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and his staff released pent-up emotions after they had been frustrated viewers for more than an hour-and-a-half.

It had looked as though Liverpool would fail to win a game they had dominated, particularly in the first half, and that would have seriously harmed their chances of winning their first league title since 1990.

Win puts pressure on Man Utd - Benitez

But instead, they have applied maximum pressure on United, who play Aston Villa on Sunday.

Benitez's players were right to show their relief having cut through their opponents time and again only to be frustrated by the frame of the goal.

Typically, Steven Gerrard and Torres were involved in most of Liverpool's best moments.

The Spain striker set up Dossena for Liverpool's first chance but the make-shift left winger saw his shot tipped over.

From that corner, Martin Skrtel's shot was flicked on by Dossena's head and the ball bounced off the top of the bar.

Fulham looked a different side - despite an unchanged line-up - to the one that beat Manchester United last time out, offering nothing in attack as strikers Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora were cut adrift from their team-mates.

Additionally, Fulham's defensive plan of denying Gerrard the space to work between the defence and midfield lacked execution. It was the England midfielder who played in Torres, but Mark Schwarzer was equal to the striker's low shot.

606: DEBATE
Skrtel doesn't need boots

Schwarzer was beaten soon after when Alonso cracked a thunderous volley from 25 yards but again the bar came to the keeper's rescue.

There was a sense of deja vu when Gerrard and Torres combined again - an excellent one-two cutting open the defence - only to see the Spaniard's shot come back off the post.

And incredibly, Liverpool were denied by the woodwork once more when Dossena met Gerrard's superb cross with a diving header and it smacked back off the bar.

Surprisingly there was little urgency on show from Liverpool after the break.

Fulham's doggedness - which has seen them take points off all the top four sides this season - was again in evidence and seemed to be carrying them to a share of the points.

A weak Torres header was all Benitez's side could produce in the first 25 minutes after the interval.

Then an injection of pace from substitute Ryan Babel - on for Dossena - almost unlocked Fulham, but the Dutchman's cross-shot was cleared by John Pantsil.

Late goal 'bitter pill' for Hodgson

It seemed to wake Liverpool from their lethargy and Schwarzer did well to push away Gerrard's low cross as a host of attackers queued up to add a finishing touch.

And after a goalmouth scramble, Benayoun - who had been on the pitch for only five minutes - flicked a heel at another Gerrard cross and the ball went only inches wide.

Benayoun created another chance for himself in the final minutes, but his near-post shot went wide.

But the Israeli was fortunate to get a chance at redemption and he took it when the ball came his way in the box and he arrowed a shot into the top corner.


Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey, Murphy (Dacourt 76), Etuhu, Davies (Gera 79), Zamora, Johnson (Nevland 87).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Kamara, Kallio, Baird.

Booked: Pantsil, Gera.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Alonso, Lucas, Kuyt (Benayoun 76), Gerrard (Agger 90), Dossena (Babel 65), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Riera, Mascherano, Ngog.

Booked: Babel, Skrtel.

Goals: Benayoun 90.

Att: 25,661

Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Yossi Benayoun 7.92 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Pressure is on Man Utd - Benitez
04 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Premier League as it happened
04 Apr 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
04 Apr 09 |  Premier League


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