ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
LIVERPOOL 5-1 FULHAM
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
Wednesday 15th March 2006 (20:00) at Anfield
Liverpool's much-maligned strikers found their scoring touch as the Anfield men stopped the rot with a win which maintains their bid for the runners-up spot in the Barclays Premiership.
Before the match Fernando Morientes, Peter Crouch, Robbie Fowler and Djibril Cisse had managed one goal between them in 51 combined hours on the pitch.
By the end Fowler had netted his first since his return from Manchester City and Morientes and Crouch had both got on the scoresheet - with young full-back Stephen Warnock also weighing in with his first for the club.
For long spells Fulham - ambitiously playing with two wingers throughout - gave Liverpool plenty of jitters.
But a side who have not won away all season were never going to keep it up to the end and Liverpool found their soft underbelly to achieve their highest league score of the season.
After successive defeats by Benfica and Arsenal, it was just the boost they needed with boss Rafael Benitez believed to be adding another year to his contract at the club.
Liverpool made five changes from the side which lost at Arsenal, with Xabi Alonso suspended and Sami Hyypia - still nursing a hamstring strain - Crouch and Warnock rested to the bench and Jan Kromkamp not in the squad. In came Daniel Agger, Fowler, Morientes, Djimi Traore and Harry Kewell.
Fulham also made changes with Ian Pearce, Wayne Bridge, Michael Brown, Collins John and former Everton striker Tomasz Radzinski returning to the side following the 3-1 defeat at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Liverpool had the ball in the net inside two minutes after a succession of crosses were not cleared properly - but Luis Garcia's close-range finish was flagged offside.
In the 16th minute the Kop - and Fowler - got the goal they had been waiting for since his return to the club.
Kewell's ball in from the left was flicked across goal by Luis Garcia and Fowler reacted instantly to turn a header past Warner - his first goal in his ninth game since his homecoming.
Kewell's cross presented Fowler with another chance which he headed wide of the far post before he set up Morientes with an opportunity the Spaniard drove into the side-netting.
Fulham were level in the 25th minutes when Agger's poor pass in midfield eluded Steven Gerrard, allowing Mark Pembridge to find John in yards of space - and he took full advantage to home in on Jose Reina and drill a low shot past the goalkeeper.
Brown was booked in the 31st minute when a flaying arm caught Kewell in the face - and worse was to follow for the midfielder four minutes later.
Zat Knight slipped in midfield, conceded possession and looked to pull a thigh muscle. While he was on the ground, Luis Garcia claimed the ball and fed Kewell, whose low cross was turned into his own net from a yard out by Brown.
Knight returned before the restart, and Fulham continued to show enterprise in midfield and John saw another effort flash inches wide, before Steed Malbranque drove wide.
Liverpool set about searching for a third goal which would take the nerves out of their play and in the 50th minute Luis Garcia took a pass from Morientes and curled a fine shot from the corner of the box against the bar.
But at the other end Knight headed against a post from Bridge's free-kick, while the pace of Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte constantly troubled Liverpool's defence.
Jamie Carragher blocked a Pearce header and Agger got in the way of a Boa Morte shot as Fulham kept coming forward.
In the 69th minute Cisse replaced Fowler and Phillippe Christanval took over from Knight - and a minute later got their third when Morientes blasted high into the net from six yards after Cisse's header from Gerrard's cross had been blocked by Warner.
Bridge was booked in the aftermath of Morientes' goal - his first in 16 games - and soon after Brian McBride replaced Radzinski.
Crouch replaced Morientes nine minutes from time, with Warnock taking over from Kewell with two minutes left.
Both were soon on the scoresheet, with Crouch getting a faint touch on a Gerrard shot, before Warnock netted in the last minute after a parry from Tony Warner.
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|Match Report filed: 15 March 2006|