Liverpool's fourth place hopes fade after Fulham draw

Liverpool 0 Fulham 0

Liverpool badly missed Fernando Torres as they dropped two more points in their increasingly forlorn pursuit of fourth place in the Barclays Premier League this afternoon.

The Reds had numerous opportunities to beat their fellow Europa League semi-finalists Fulham but, without the cutting edge of the injured Torres, drew a blank at Anfield.

They also came up against a goalkeeper in good form in Mark Schwarzer, who produced a number of saves including a fine stop from a powerful Ryan Babel drive.

Torres scored twice in Thursday's stunning victory over Benfica but left the field early to rest a knee injury.

Manager Rafael Benitez had expected the striker to be fit but he failed to even make the bench.

Dirk Kuyt and Lucas - Liverpool's other two scorers on Thursday - also had to make do with places among the substitutes along with Yossi Benayoun as Benitez made four changes.

David Ngog, Alberto Aquilani, Maxi Rodriguez and Babel were the men to come in but none made the difference against a resolute Fulham side.

Liverpool dominated possession throughout and Jose Reina, fresh from signing a new six-year contract, barely had a shot to save.

Yet their dependence on Torres was again all too evident.

Fulham were able to boast their leading scorer and hero of their European run, Bobby Zamora, following a fitness test on an Achilles injury, but the England World Cup hopeful endured a quiet afternoon.

The Reds should have taken the lead with just three minutes on the clock after Babel won a corner.

Steven Gerrard swung the ball in from the left and it was headed back towards goal by Daniel Agger after touching a Fulham defender.

It fell invitingly for Babel inside the six-yard box but the Dutchman failed to make any connection with a volley.

Gerrard created a chance for Ngog with a superb crossfield ball into the area but the Frenchman had to stretch and volleyed wide.

The tone for most of the afternoon was set with Liverpool much the livelier side but meeting continual frustration in the final third.

Another good move by Liverpool saw Gerrard pull back a Glen Johnson cross for Aquilani, who then flicked the ball up and attempted an overhead kick but Schwarzer saved comfortably.

Moments later Rodriguez took the ball down in the area to shoot but Schwarzer blocked.

Babel then delivered a good cross for Aquilani but the Italian headed over.

Mascherano tested Schwarzer with a powerful 30-yard drive just after the half-hour but the Australian saved well to his right.

Greening, already booked, was fortunate to escape a second yellow card for blocking Johnson 10 minutes before half-time as Liverpool continued to dominate without breaking through.

Liverpool pressed on and created three good chances for Aquilani after the break but the former Roma midfielder was unable to take any of them.

The first he scuffed weakly at Schwarzer before winning a corner with a shot the keeper palmed over the bar.

The ball came to him again soon after but this time he sliced wide from 25 yards.

Fulham spent large spells defending on the edge of their own area as Liverpool continued to push but they did so manfully, getting plenty of players behind the ball.

Gerrard got in a shot on target but Aaron Hughes blocked and Daniel Agger volleyed wide.

Schwarzer also seemed unbeatable, producing a brilliant save low to his right to keep put a fierce drive from Babel, cutting inside from the left.

Liverpool attempted to freshen up their attack by introducing Kuyt and Benayoun midway through the second half while Fulham withdrew the isolated figure of Zamora.

Kuyt was straight into the action and picked out Sotirios Kyrgiakos with a good cross only for the Greek to head over.

Another substitute, Daniel Pacheco, also had a powerful effort blocked.

Time ran out for Liverpool and, not for the first time this season, their supporters left frustrated.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works