After The Match 


Liverpool-Fulham 5-1 (2-1)         15.03.06                         PL
Goals: Fowler (16), Brown (34 o.g.), Morientes (70), Crouch (89), Warnock (90)                         John (25)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Traore, Garcia, Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Fowler, Morientes
Subs: Cisse (Fowler 68), Crouch (Morientes 81),
Warnock (Kewell 88)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia
Yellow: Brown (31), Bridge (71), John (90)
Red: None
Referee: A Wiley
Attendance: 42,293
Shots on target: 8-2
Shots off target: 7-3
Possession: 58.6-41.4
Fouls conceded: 9-12
Corners: 8-2
Offsides: 5-10
Yellow: 0-3


HEADLINES "But the only thing I have been signing tonight
has been autographs."
    Rafael Benitez

1603: Fowler delights at goal return
1503: Benitez 'talking' about contract
1503: Coleman calm after Anfield defeat
1503: Five-star Reds crush Fulham  


Fowler delights at goal return

By Ian Doyle - Daily Post

Robbie Fowler last night celebrated his first goal since his return to Liverpool and admitted: "It's been a long time coming."

The striker was on the mark as Rafael Benitez's side discovered their shooting boots in emphatic fashion to thump Fulham 5-1 at Anfield.

It was Liverpool's first win in four games and consolidated third place in the Premiership, moving them to within two points of Manchester United albeit having played two games more.

Fowler set Liverpool on their way in the 16th minute, and after Collins John equalised for the visitors, an own goal from Michael Brown was followed by second-half strikes from Fernando Morientes and substitutes Peter Crouch and Stephen Warnock.

But it was Fowler's first strike for Liverpool since signing from Manchester City that drew the biggest cheer from the home supporters.

And the forward said: "It doesn't matter that it wasn't at the Kop. A goal is a goal no matter which end it goes in. I'm pleased to get off the mark again.

"It's been a long time and people have pointed out that fact, but I'm on my way again.

"Another pleasing thing is that the other strikers have scored as well that takes the heat off us a bit. I've waited a long time for this and I'm just really pleased to get off the mark again."

Benitez moved to praise Fowler, whose 172nd goal for Liverpool moves him level with Kenny Dalglish in the club's all-time scoring records.

"It was his first legal goal!" said Benitez, referring to the three strikes Fowler has seen chalked off since his return. "It was the first goal and was really important for him.

"Working as hard as he does now and having scored three goals that haven't counted, it was important for him and for his confidence that he has scored."

Fowler was substituted with 21 minutes remaining, a move that was met with jeers from sections of the Anfield crowd. But Benitez said: "He wasn't injured, I just decided to change him. It might have been easier for me to keep him on but I had to do the best for the team.

"I know we have to talk about Fowler, but Crouch, Morientes and Cisse also needed to do something and they have done a really good job."

The result was Liverpool's biggest win of the season and the first time they had scored more than twice in a league game Since January 2. Fowl-er's opener was also the first Premiership goal scored by a Liverpool striker this year.

"The long wait is over," added Benitez. "It was a fantastic game for the strikers and the team, and as a manager to see all the strikers involved in goals is important. They scored three goals and there was an assist for Cisse.

"The strikers needed to score. They were playing well but they needed to score. Maybe we can finish talking about those things now.

"I hope it will give them more confidence. If one striker scores one goal he can continue playing but all three have scored and one has had an assist and now we have a problem."

Of the game, Benitez added: "It was an open game and I don't like to see that at Anfield. Fulham were playing good counter attack and I said we needed to control the game. I thought at times we were too wide and not compact enough."

Benitez 'talking' about contract

By Andy Clarke - Sky Sports

Rafael Benitez has dismissed reports that he has signed a contract extension at Liverpool but admitted that he is talking to the club about his future.

With three years left to run on his existing deal, Benitez is believed to be reasy to sign a one-year extension, keeping him at Anfield until the summer of 2010.

Speculation has linked the former Valencia boss with a return to his native Spain to manage Real Madrid, but after seeing his side thrash Fulham 5-1 to end their goal drought he insisted he is happy at the club.

"We are talking about the future, I have three years left on my contract here so there is no hurry, I have not signed anything," Benitez said.

"My relationship with the fans is excellent, as is my relationship with the board.

"We are happy, I am happy and there is not a problem at all with our relationships. But the only thing I have been signing tonight has been autographs."

Robbie Fowler scored his first goal since returning to Liverpool from Manchester City, Fernando Morientes ended his 14-match barren spell and Peter Crouch touched in his sixth goal since his summer move from Southampton.

Stephen Warnock also fired his first goal for the club as Fulham capitulated in the final minutes, with Liverpool's other goal coming from the boot of the visitors' midfielder Michael Brown.

Benitez was delighted that his goal-shy strikers had at last got on the scoresheet.

He said: "They were all waiting to score and it was important for their confidence that they did.

"Everybody will want to talk about Robbie's first goal since he returned here, but I was equally pleased with the goals from the other strikers too."

Coleman calm after Anfield defeat

By Andy Clarke - Sky Sports

Fulham manager Chris Coleman refused to criticise his players despite their 5-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

Robbie Fowler, Fernando Morientes and Peter Crouch were among the Liverpool scorers, while Collins John grabbed his 11th goal of the season during a promising first half spell for the visitors.

John, Steed Malbranque and Zat Knight all missed good chances for Fulham before they collapsed late on, conceding twice in the closing two minutes.

Coleman was pleased with some of the football his side played and he felt they had performed much better than in their last two matches - heavy defeats to Arsenal and Everton.

"It looked as if we had been battered after those last few minutes, but I cannot criticise the players after that," he said.

"I was not happy with the way we played at Everton on Saturday and told them that. But we played some very good stuff (tonight).

"It is never easy when you come to Anfield. We have been smashed by Arsenal, beaten at Everton, but did not think we deserved to lose by five after the way
we played."

Coleman explained why his players were angry at the final whistle, several of them surrounding referee Alan Wiley in front of the Kop.

He said: "It was pure frustration, we had just lost 5-1 and some of the lads were very upset by some of the decisions that had gone against us."

Five-star Reds crush Fulham

By Andy Clarke - Sky Sports

Liverpool rediscovered their touch in front of goal to beat Fulham 5-1 and close to within two points of Manchester United.

Robbie Fowler's first goal of his second Anfield spell set them on their way and Fernando Morientes broke his long barren spell by adding the third.

Peter Crouch then touched in a late fourth after coming on as a substitute to ensure that the club's much-maligned attacking trio all got their names on the scoresheet.

In between, Collins John scored his 11th goal of the campaign to level before Michael Brown's unfortunate own goal restored Liverpool's advantage.

Liverpool had gone 11 matches since they last found the net twice, but Fulham are such abject travellers that this game was always going to present an opportunity for goals for Rafa Benitez's side.

Despite heavy defeats to Arsenal and Everton in their last two outings, Fulham retained their commitment to attack and they were rewarded when they became only the third visiting side to score a Premiership goal at Anfield this season.

They had other chances, too, most notably a powerful header from Zat Knight early in the second half which beat Jose Reyna and smacked against a post, but their problems are at the other end of the field.

The Cottagers crumbled so badly in the closing stages that Liverpool carved them open at will and could easily have made the final scoreline even more humiliating.

Liverpool began the game on the front foot but weak early efforts from Morientes and Fowler suggested that it was going to be another difficult night for the strikers.

However, the confidence came flooding back once Fowler had given the Liverpool supporters the moment they had been craving since his return from Manchester City in January.

Harry Kewell's corner from the left was flicked on by Luis Garcia and Fowler, untroubled by the attentions of any Fulham defenders, headed in firmly at the far post.

Further chances followed for both Fowler, who glanced a header wide from a Djimi Traore cross and Morientes, who fired into the side-netting from a narrow angle.

Liverpool were knocked out of their stride by a mistake from Daniel Agger, whose loose ball fed Luis Boa Morte. He released John, who finished calmly, threading a low shot beneath Reyna.

More Fowler magic restored the home side's confidence, though, as he played in Kewell and the Australian's low cross was turned into his own goal by Brown.

Fulham continued to press with John firing wide and Steed Malbranque missing the target with a snap-shot from eight yards, and after Garcia's thumping shot struck the crossbar Knight's towering header hit the post.

Benitez withdrew Fowler to a chorus of boos from the Kop, replacing him with Djibril Cisse, and the switch paid immediate dividends when the Reds grabbed the killer third goal.

Steven Gerrard's cross was met powerfully in the air by Cisse and although Tony Warner smuggled the ball off the line, Morientes was on hand to slam it back into the roof of the net.

On came Crouch for Morientes and the England striker's first involvement brought his sixth goal for the club, as he cleverly flicked in Gerrard's low cut-back.

Fulham's heads dropped and they conceded a fifth goal in injury time when Stephen Warnock rifled in a low shot for his first Liverpool goal.

Chris Coleman's side, who have taken only three points away from home, welcome neighbours Chelsea to Craven Cottage at the weekend as they protect an eight-point advantage over Birmingham. They are not out of danger yet.

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Thor Zakariassen