By Tariq Saleh
Kenny Dalglish once again displayed why he deserves to become the Liverpool manager on a full time basis, after his side put on a wonderful performance and thumped Fulham at Craven Cottage last night.
This was a shadow of the Liverpool side who were struggling to win away from home early in the season. The confidence within the Liverpool team was evident from the very start as they took the lead just 32 seconds into the match. Lucas played a lovely ball behind the Fulham defence for Luis Suarez to run on to on the left hand side, and despite the Uruguayan’s cross being cut out Maxi Rodriguez latched on to the loose ball and placed it into the far left corner of Mark Schwarzer’s goal.
The game was barely 10 minutes old and Maxi Rodriguez was at it again. This time Liverpool attacked down the right flank and after leaving Carlos Salcido trailing, Glen Johnson stood up a delightful cross to the far post for a lively Maxi to stroke home on his left foot.
Liverpool added a third before the 20 minute mark and it was an uncharacteristic mistake by the usually reliable Mark Schwarzer as he allowed a soft Dirk Kuyt strike to bobble in underneath his body. Fulham were rattled and had no answer to Liverpool’s quick start.
Fulham were fortunate to go in only 3-0 down at the break as tormernter-in-chief Luis Suarez wouldn’t give the Fulham defence a moments rest. The Reds number 7 shot over from a tight angle and was unlucky not to have had a penalty after being bundled over by Brede Hangeland.
Fulham began the second half brightly and scored within 13 minutes of the restart. Moussa Dembele curling a lovely left footed strike beyond the helpless dive of Pepe Reina. But Fulham hardly threatened the Liverpool goal after that and the night would belong to Maxi Rodriguez. The Argentinean rifled a shot into the top corner from just outside the area to complete his second hat-trick in three games, his 7th goal in 3 games. He left the match to a standing ovation from the mass Liverpool supporters soon after.
Just five minutes later Luis Suarez got the goal his performance thoroughly deserved. A beautifully weighted ball by Jonjo Shelvey put Suarez clean though and he coolly rounded Schwarzer and slotted in. Suarez was full of running and after rounding Salcido with ease he cut the ball back to Kuyt for a sixth but his goal bound effort was blocked on the line by Chris Baird.
Liverpool continued to press for a sixth goal but it was Fulham who got the final goal of the game. The ball fell kindly to Steve Sidwell outside the area and he hit a sweet volley in to the top corner of Reina’s goal, followed by a muted celebration.
Liverpool kept up their hopes of a Europa League place next season and now lie 2 points clear of Tottenham in 5th place. The two sides meet on Sunday at Anfield