Scott Parker said there was “a lot of emotion” after his Fulham side secured a crucial win to give their survival hopes a huge boost and continue Liverpool’s incredible slump.
Mario Lemina’s goal on the stroke of half-time, after the Gabon midfielder had dispossessed Mohamed Salah, inflicted a sixth successive Premier League home defeat on the Reds and saw Parker’s side draw level on 26 points with 17th-placed Brighton.
It was Fulham’s first win at Anfield since 2012, while champions Liverpool are now struggling to finish in the top four after another uninspired performance at home.
The Reds, who won the title last season by 18 points, had gone 68 home league matches unbeaten before their current run started with a loss to Burnley in January.
Since then they have also lost on home soil to Brighton, Manchester City, Everton, Chelsea and now Fulham.
“It’s a big win. There’s a lot of emotion and I am very proud,” said Parker. “I am happy for the players and the team because they got nothing short of what they deserved. There was a resilience and real attitude to keep the ball out of the net and defend.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made seven changes following the defeat to Chelsea in attempt to freshen things up, but Fulham were the better side and carved out four chances in the opening half an hour alone.
Ademola Lookman, who was given the freedom of Anfield, twice got behind the inexperienced Reds defence but could not finish while Josh Maja was denied by a brave save by Alisson.
The winner came after Liverpool thought they had cleared a free-kick but Salah was caught on the ball by Lemina who produced an arrowed finish, his first goal since joining on loan from Southampton.
Diogo Jota, making his first start since 28 November, was denied an equaliser by an acrobatic save from Alphonse Areola early in the second half before substitute Sadio Mane hit the post with a looping header.
But Liverpool were poor and have now failed to win their last eight home games.
Weary Liverpool look broken
It was this time last year that Liverpool went 25 points clear at the top of the table after a win over Bournemouth in front of a raucous Anfield crowd.
Twelve months on and Premier League games at Anfield have become an uncomfortable watch for Klopp and this was another stodgy repeat of recent performances.
The Liverpool manager’s attempts to shake things up by making wholesale changes backfired as Fulham, who have spent most of the season in the bottom three, took advantage of another inexperienced centre-back partnership in the shape of Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams.
Lookman and Maja were a constant source of worry as they exploited huge pockets of space before Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, was dispossessed by Lemina for the goal.
Klopp sent on Mane, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold in an attempt to rescue the game but, despite an improved second-half showing, this was another woeful performance which extended an inexcusable run of home losses.
Liverpool have yet to score a goal in open play at home in 2021.
A plane circled above Anfield during the game towing a banner which read: ‘Unity in Strength – Let’s Go Reds YNWA’.
But Liverpool, who are in Champions League action on Wednesday, have the weary look of a team who cannot wait for the season to finish.
From 10 points from safety to fighting chance
Fulham boss Parker let out a huge scream of delight at the final whistle after this momentous win.
As recently as 13 February the Cottagers were 10 points from safety, but this result will give them huge belief for the final 10 games of the season.
A performance full of character and spirit was characterised by Joachim Andersen’s clearance right at the end, the Fulham skipper saving his side with Mane poised to turn home Andy Robertson’s centre.
Too many times this season Fulham have struggled to turn draws into wins but there was a dogged resilience about they way they went about their work.
They are now unbeaten in eight games away from home, their longest without defeat on the road in their top-flight history.
Fulham still have work to do but two wins on Merseyside – this result coming three weeks after a 2-0 win at Everton – has helped transform their campaign.
It’s runaway leaders Manchester City up next, but it will be home results against Wolves, Burnley and, on the final day, Newcastle that will determine whether Fulham will be in the Premier League next season.
‘We’re missing a goal and a clean sheet’ – what they said
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: “The obvious thing was missing a goal and a clean sheet. It was always clear that Fulham would cause us big problems with the situation they are in and the one we are in.
“It was clear we had to adapt. We started quite well, we were direct and Mo Salah caused them problems but we didn’t finish the situations off. Then Fulham were good.
“Our last line was completely new. We had balls in behind where we had to run a lot because we were not high enough or just not in the right position and we conceded the goal.”
Fulham boss Scott Parker: “In the first half I thought we were fantastic. We created numerous chances and we stuck to the plan in terms of how we wanted to cause them problems.
“The main thing coming into the game was ‘can we put our stamp on it?’ – easier said than done of course.
“We deserved this result and we have deserved better results over the last few weeks.”
First since Huddersfield – the stats
- Liverpool 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 the first newly-promoted side to win away at Liverpool in the Premier League since Blackpool beat Roy Hodgson’s Reds in October 2010.
- Excluding penalties and own goals, Liverpool have failed to score with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League (including 16 on Sunday).
- Having kept just four clean sheets in their first 21 Premier League games of the season, Fulham have since kept five in their last seven in the competition, conceding just two goals in this run.
- 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.
- All three of Fulham midfielder Mario Lemina’s Premier League goals have been scored away from home, each also coming in a different season (in 2017-18 v West Brom, 2018-19 v Newcastle and this season v Liverpool).
Liverpool turn their attention to the Champions League on Wednesday (20:00 GMT) as they look to see off RB Leipzig after establishing a 2-0 first leg lead in the last-16 tie. Fulham have a free week to prepare for the visit of runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City next Saturday (20:00).
- 76N WilliamsSubstituted forAlexander-Arnoldat 76′minutes
- 46R Williams
- 7MilnerSubstituted forFabinhoat 76′minutes
- 5WijnaldumSubstituted forManéat 62′minutes
- 8KeitaBooked at 90mins
- 20JotaBooked at 42mins
- 6Thiago Alcántara
- 2TeteBooked at 38mins
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 18LeminaBooked at 47mins
- 19LookmanSubstituted forRobinsonat 83′minutes
- 17CavaleiroSubstituted forMitrovicat 85′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 27MajaSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 67′minutes
- 29Zambo Anguissa
Match ends, Liverpool 0, Fulham 1.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Fulham 1.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) is shown the yellow card.
Hand ball by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).
Attempt missed. Nathaniel Phillips (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Sadio Mané with a cross.
Naby Keita (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Naby Keita (Liverpool).
Mario Lemina (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Joachim Andersen.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Kenny Tete.
Naby Keita (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Kenny Tete (Fulham).
Attempt saved. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Offside, Liverpool. Xherdan Shaqiri tries a through ball, but Sadio Mané is caught offside.
Substitution, Fulham. Aleksandar Mitrovic replaces Ivan Cavaleiro.
Offside, Liverpool. Trent Alexander-Arnold tries a through ball, but Mohamed Salah is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Nathaniel Phillips (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold with a cross.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tosin Adarabioyo.