x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Liverpool red and buried

The red mist descended on west London yesterday when Liverpool had two men sent off as their game against Fulham boiled over.

LONDON // The red mist descended on west London yesterday when Liverpool had two men sent off as their game against Fulham boiled over. First the Swiss defender Philipp Deglan was given his marching orders for a late lunge on Clint Dempsey and then the referee Lee Mason had no option but to send off Jamie Carragher as he pulled back Bobby Zamora. Beating Manchester United last Sunday sparked what seemed to be a revival at Anfield but that proved to be shortlived yesterday as a goal by former Old Trafford player Erik Nevland sparked the rout of the Reds and the flurry of red cards .

Nevland scored Fulham's second goal in their 3-1 victory as Liverpool lost their fifth league game of the season. Zamora opened the scoring for Fulham whe he met Damien Duff's cross from the right and coolly slotted the ball past Pepe Reina to stun the travelling support at Craven Cottage. Once again, the absence of their captain Steven Gerrard seemed to deflate Liverpool and while the manager Rafa Benitez is quick to dismiss claims he relies too heavily on the England midfielder, his absence was telling.

Alberto Aquilani was also missing with a virus while Andriy Voronin cut a disconsolate figure as he struggled to provide an adequate partner forFernando Torres. But the the sublime Spaniard was able to pick up where he left off against United last Sunday. Just when Fulham thought they had engineered a surprise half-time lead, Torres fired a superb volley into the far corner. Hodgson's contract expires at the end of the season and with interest from Sweden and Norway well known around Craven Cottage, the Fulham fans must be nervously watching developments regarding a possible extension. He has created a team capable of competing with the likes of Liverpool and his words of wisdom at half-time galvanised Fulham and his substitutions proved the difference as Liverpool were rocked.

Zoltan Gera and Nevland were introduced at the interval and both combined to deadly effect. Winger Gera found former United striker in the area and the Norwegian expertly flicked home with 15 minutes remaining. Liverpool's hopes to get back into the game were dead-and-buried in the space of four minutes. First, with 12 minutes left on the clock and hopes of an equaliser high, Degen was dismissed and then Carragher hauled down Zamora and had to go as he was the last man.

Fulham expertly made their advantage count and added a third when Nevland found Dempsey to slot in a third. So, a former United player helped land the knockout blow for Fulham and as Benitez looked on from the touchline, he looked like a man ready to throw in the towel in his pursuit of the title. sports@thenational.ae