On the day the death of their greatest player was commemorated with wreaths, tributes and a minute's impeccably observed silence at Craven Cottage, Fulham stirred themselves sufficiently to outrun a disappointingly lethargic Liverpool in a wretched first half distinguished only by the confidence with which Collins John plundered his third goal of the season. Then, amid swelling frenzy and a raft of substitutions, Fulham fought off an overdue Liverpool resurgence and sealed victory in added time with a coolly taken Luis Boa Morte goal.
A case could be made for offside on both of the goals, but no one in the home camp was complaining. Their second win of the season was joyfully received with chants of "Johnny Haynes" from the sell-out crowd and the assertion on the public address that "The Maestro" would be proud of Fulham.
Among those watching were some of Haynes' old team-mates and friends: Jimmy Hill, George Cohen, Tosh Chamberlain, Alan Mullery. Sven Goran Eriksson was there, too, though quite what he was looking at was a mystery, since Jamie Carragher was the sole Englishman on display.
Even the second-half arrival of Peter Crouch and Tony Warner merely raised the total of those qualified to play for Eriksson to three. Warner's turned out to be the vital contribution after Mark Crossley - playing only his second game since returning from knee surgery - pulled a hamstring on the hour. The replacement stepped straight into Liverpool's high-level bombardment and repelled everything thrown at him in a hectic last 30 minutes. Then, deep into the four added minutes at the death, Steed Malbranque diddled a couple of red shirts on the left touchline and cut in to slip a short pass inside Sami Hyypia for Boa Morte to drive high past Jose Reina with his left boot.
So Liverpool's miserable League season limps on, in contrast to the confident fashion in which they are setting about retaining their European crown. Their manager, Rafael Benitez, put the defeat down to Warner's excellence and his side's inability to find the net. Eight Premiership matches have yielded just five goals.
With Liverpool opting not to risk Steven Gerrard - perhaps the player Eriksson had come to watch - and giving Harry Kewell his first start since the European final in Istanbul five months ago - the eye was quickly caught by another Australian, Fulham's Ahmad Elrich. In the second minute a Malbranque cross delivered the ball to him. Alas, he hastily hoofed it into the Liverpool followers.
After 30 minutes, however, Claus Jensen's exquisite chip set up John for the opener. It was a wake-up call for Liverpool who, with Djibril Cissé rampant on the right, dominated the second half, only for Crossley and then Warner to frustrate them. Warner's denials of Fernando Morientes and Luis Garcia were outstanding. Peter Crouch put Cissé through but Warner saved before Boa Morte capped a memorable afternoon.Reuse content