After The Match 


Fulham-Liverpool 0-2 (0-1)           19.4.08                          PL
Goals: Pennant (17), Crouch (70)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Skrtel, Riise, Benayoun, Pennant, Mascherano, Lucas, Voronin, Crouch
Subs: Carragher (Hyypia 46), Alonso (Mascherano 72),
Aurelio (Voronin 82)
Not used: Itandje, Torres
Yellow: Healy (67)
Red: None
Referee: M Atkinson
Attendance: 25,311
Shots on target: 5-4
Shots off target: 4-8
Blocked shots: 3-2
Fouls conceded: 9-10
Corners: 3-3
Offsides: 4-1
Possession: 48.3-51.7
Yellow: 1-0
HEADLINES "This year
we have
a better squad..."
Rafael Benitez

2104: Pennant has role to fulfil at Anfield
2004: Hodgson: We'll keep believing
1904: Benitez praises squad effort
1904: Second-string Reds punish Fulham 


Pennant has role to fulfil at Anfield

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Jermaine Pennant has already made an impact in the Champions League this season - and I don't mean his reckless red card in Portugal which undermined Liverpool's campaign almost before it had started.

It was Pennant's 18 minute cameo against Inter which helped turn a finely poised last-16 tie Liverpool's way.

And it's why he could be an invaluable weapon on Liverpool's substitutes' bench tomorrow night.

There have been times this season when Pennant has been described as a few vowels short of a good Scrabble score.

After that red card in Porto, his manager talked of “a mistake he must learn from.”

Barely 48 hours later a jilted ‘Page Three stunner’ revealed that Pennant tried to break an Xbox addiction by playing Scrabble – but “spent ages trying to save the letters to put the word ‘zoo’ on the board because he thinks it’s high scoring.”

He might still struggle with words and letters, but on a football field he's learning.

He still elicits more negative reaction from fans than perhaps any other player in the Reds squad.

But that's down to his perceived off-field persona rather than a lack of talent on it.

His attitude all season has been much improved, after he ended the last campaign with an excellent display in a Champions League final.

He can deliver damaging crosses, go past full-backs for fun and unlock defences with a perceptive pass.

All that has been lacking from his arsenal is a goal or two.

And on Saturday at Fulham he even rectified that.

Pennant may yet have a significant role to play in Liverpool's season.

Hodgson: We'll keep believing


Roy Hodgson refused to criticise Fulham and said they would fight to the death to stay in the Premier League after the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

Goals by Jermaine Pennant after 16 minutes and Peter Crouch, 20 minutes from the end, knocked the stuffing out of Fulham after a lively start against a Champions League-conscious Liverpool side showing eight changes from the side which beat Blackburn last week.

But Hodgson said: "I thought we matched Liverpool - one of the best sides in the country - most of the way.

"We paid for a couple of mistakes at the back when the ball was despatched powerfully into our net and we didn't take our own chances.

"But we gave a good account of ourselves and there are still nine points to play for, even though the fact Bolton won today and Birmingham have a game to play means our position has deteriorated.

"Of course I'm disappointed and I won't make a fool of myself by making outrageous claims - but until it is mathematically impossible for us to stay up we will fight on.

"I certainly don't think we lacked determination or spirit.

"I think we played well for most of the match and gave it our best shot but any side Liverpool field is a good one and hard to beat."

Benitez praises squad effort

By Peter Fraser - Sky Sports

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez believes his squad proved a point to the rest of the Premier League in their 2-0 victory over Fulham.

The Reds lost 1-0 away to relegation threatened Fulham last season as Benitez fielded a weakened side ahead of a UEFA Champions League showdown with Chelsea, which earned the Liverpool boss criticism from a number of other Premier League bosses.

And this season it was a case of déjà vu as Liverpool travelled to Craven Cottage ahead of Tuesday's first leg meeting with Chelsea in the final four of Europe.

Bolton boss Gary Megson - who is also battling against the drop - had urged Benitez to field a full-strength side, but the plea appeared to fall on deaf ears as the Spaniard made eight changes to the side which defeated Blackburn last weekend.

But as goals from Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch secured the points in West London, Benitez believes his side demonstrated their strength in depth.

"When you have 38 games you have a lot to do yourself," Benitez told Sky Sports News when asked if he had been angered by speculation he would field a weakened side.

"Everybody needs to concentrate on their own team. I don't know the team selection of the other team so I try to win with my team."

Meanwhile, Benitez praised the performance of his squad and the Spaniard believes he now has far better players at his disposal in comparison with this time last season.

"The team is playing well and we are winning games," Benitez added.

"Today we were using players that needed to prove their qualities so that is why I am really pleased with the performance of the team.

"This year we have a better squad and you saw today we have enough quality. If you want to fight for trophies you have to use the squad."

Second-string Reds punish Fulham

By Gareth Maher - Setanta Sports

Liverpool claimed a 2-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage to inflict further misery upon the relegation-threatened side.

Jermaine Pennant opened the scoring with an angled shot that Fulham keeper Kasey Keller could do nothing about, and Peter Crouch wrapped up the win with a shot that went through the shot-stopper's legs.

Everything looked to be in favour of Fulham as this game started. The visitors named a second-string line-up, the crowd were voicing their encouragement, and the momentum came under their control.

The midfield quartet of Clint Dempsey, Jimmy Bullard, Danny Murphy, and Simon Davies were busy trying to spread play down the channels and feed their strikers with balls in behind the Liverpool defence.

Bullard, in particular, stood out as he was constantly looking for the ball to feet, making charging runs forward, and tracking back whenever he was needed. However, one would think that he would have more of an impact if there was a deep-lying midfielder covering him.

A number of half chances cropped up for the home side - mainly coming from set-pieces - but not one of their players had to composure to convert them as they struggled to test Jose Reina in the Liverpool goal.

Then against the run of play the away team took the lead on 17 minutes through Pennant, who blasted in at the near post following a lovely weighted pass by Lucas Leiva.

It was a goal that exposed a lack of pace in the Fulham defence with Brede Hangeland struggling to get close to Pennant, but also Lucas was awarded far too much space in midfield to pick out his pass.

Heads immediately dropped for both the home players and fans with that goal. Any chance of erecting a comeback were shut out by the resilient Javier Mascherano, who was simply superb in the middle of the park for The Reds.

Brian McBride and David Healy both had decent chances to execute volleyed efforts, but fluffed the opportunties presented to them. They would not get many more chances after that.

After the break a fightback was expected from Roy Hodgson's team, but they trotted out onto the pitch looking deflated, dejected, and already relegated. It was exactly the type of response that the home supporters did not want.

While Liverpool didn't dominate for the entirety of the game, they did enough to ensure that they looked the more likely to light up the scoreboard and that is exactly what happened when they got their second of the afternoon.

On 70 minutes, Crouch was the second Englishman to celebrate a goal and Pennant was again involved as he slid a pass to the lanky striker to shoot straight at Keller. It didn't look like there was much venom behind it, but the ball somehow went through Keller's legs and into the back of the net.

A heart starting beating, albeit tamely, in the Fulham team and they piled forward looking to snatch something from the game. Bullard and Dempsey were excellent, yet it proved to be too difficult for them to inspire their fellow team-mates.

Hodgson made positional changes and brought on fresh legs, but half chances from Dempsey and Leon Andreasen did not have their desired impact and they were typical of the overall play by The Whites in this game.

Liverpool, who had one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final with Chelsea, were professional in this win to aid their pursuit of cementing fourth place in the league.

Relegation is looking like a real possibilty for Fulham now as they sit second from bottom with just 27 points taken thus far this campaign, and this performance will not have done much to fuel their confidence.

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Thor Zakariassen ©