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?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions