Fulham boosted their survival hopes as they inflicted a sixth consecutive Premier League home defeat on Liverpool, winning 1-0 at Anfield.
Mario Lemina’s strike close to the half-time break earned the visitors a deserved three points that means only goal difference separates them from safety.
It also extended a dreadful run of form for the Premier League champions, whose hopes of qualifying for any form of European football next term now look under huge threat.
No doubt encouraged by their hosts’ woeful recent form, Fulham made the brighter start.
They twice went close when Josh Maja flicked an unorthodox effort just past the post before Ademola Lookman drove wide after cutting into the box too easily.
And, though Liverpool looked to respond through Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian was unable to hit the target after getting in behind on two occasions.
Fulham kept the pressure on, with only a brave Alisson stop and an excellent Neco Williams block denying Maja and Lookman respectively.
And the Reds could not deny them before half-time, with Lemina picking Salah’s pocket at the edge of the box before arrowing a brilliant low effort into the far corner.
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) March 7, 2021
Liverpool showed improvement following the break, Diogo Jota stinging the palms of Alphonse Areola with a well-struck left-footed volley just inside the box.
But their desperation to get back into the game led to gaps opening up, which Ivan Cavaleiro almost exploited in shooting wide after pinching the ball in midfield and breaking at pace.
Shortly after that chance, Jurgen Klopp looked to his bench for inspiration, introducing Sadio Mane in place of Georginio Wijnaldum.
And the Senegalese nearly levelled just minutes into his cameo, sending a looping header onto the post from Naby Keita’s cross.
But that was as close as Liverpool came across a final 25 minutes that featured surprisingly few uncomfortable moments for Fulham, who were good value for their win.
What does it mean? Fulham give themselves a chance
Having looked dead and buried earlier in the season, Fulham are now only in the Premier League’s bottom three by virtue of goal difference.
As the form team in that part of the division, Scott Parker’s side will now fancy their chances of reeling in Brighton and Hove Albion or Newcastle United before the campaign comes to a close.
Andersen shines again
Fulham barely looked flustered across the 90 minutes at Anfield but that owed a lot to some fine performances in the back four, most notably from Joachim Andersen.
The defender won all four his duels, made a team-high four interceptions – most importantly at the end to deny Sadio Mane a certain goal – and six clearances.
Klopp would doubtless have preferred to give Trent Alexander-Arnold the afternoon off but in the end did not feel he could afford to do that as the young Scouser’s replacement struggled.
Neco Williams gave the ball away a team-high 26 times, could not contain Lookman, and despite making as many passes in the opposition half as any Liverpool player, never looked like a creative threat.
Key Opta Facts
– Liverpool have lost six consecutive home league games, their longest ever such run, while they are the first side to lose six in a row on home soil in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in February 2019 (seven).
– Fulham are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League away games (W2 D6) – their longest run without defeat on the road in their top-flight history.
– Liverpool’s six league defeats at Anfield in 2020-21 is their most in a single campaign since 1953-54 (also six), when the Reds finished bottom of the top-flight.
– Fulham are the first newly-promoted side to win away at Liverpool in the Premier League since Blackpool beat Roy Hodgson’s Reds in October 2010, ending Liverpool’s run of 30 home league meetings with such opponents without defeat (W24 D6).
– Liverpool are now winless in their last eight home games in the Premier League (D2 L6), only embarking on a longer winless top-flight run at Anfield once before – 10 games between October 1951 and March 1952.
Liverpool must shake off another Anfield defeat quickly as they head to Budapest for the ‘home’ leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against RB Leipzig on Wednesday.
Fulham, meanwhile, have six days to prepare for hosting Premier League champions in waiting Manchester City at Craven Cottage.