Rodriguez continues hot streak to crush Fulham

Fulham 2 Liverpool 5

Finishing fifth in the Premier League is small fry when considered against Liverpool's glorious history, particularly with Manchester United on the verge of breaking their long-standing record with their 19th title. However, it would represent a major achievement should they manage to hold off Tottenham Hotspur, who they face on Sunday, after the first half of the season, when they were 12th in the Premier League, just four points above the relegation zone before Kenny Dalglish stepped in.

Not just that, but Liverpool are ending the season in spectacular style, with 13 goals in their last three games, having also beaten Newcastle 3-0 and Birmingham 5-0. First Dalglish made Liverpool hard to beat; now he is making them wonderful to watch. This was the Liverpool of old, playing the kind of precise, destructive football that was once the trademark of teams from Anfield.

Maxi Rodriguez took his personal tally to seven goals in the last three games, with his second hat-trick in two weeks. Liverpool's goal threat however was not confined to the Argentina international, as across the team they have a hungry look about them. Luis Suarez produced another performance of the highest class up front, while in midfield Lucas Leiva continued his impressive season to orchestrate the waves of Liverpool attacks.

No Steven Gerrard, no £35m striker Andy Carroll; but nonetheless a performance of true Liverpool vintage. The question that remains unanswered is why Dalglish has not yet been appointed the club's permanent manager.

The Scot knocked back the questions on that subject after the game, preferring to credit the players for their cultured and destructive display. "To come here and score five goals was beyond our wildest expectations," Dalglish said. "If we finish fifth we will be delighted. Nobody would have anticipated the run we have had since January."

Gerrard, who spent the evening as a pundit on Sky Sports, said of the prospect of United surpassing Liverpool's 18 league titles: "It's hurtful from because we held the record for so long. But you have to give credit where it's due – they've overtaken us for the time being but the good thing from our point of view is we are on our way back up and we won't give up the fight to overtake them again – don't worry about that."

Fulham's decent home form of 2011 was ripped to shreds inside 16 minutes. The visitors opened the scoring after just 31 seconds, when Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer made a mess of kicking a back pass away, and Rodriguez fired in from eight yards for the fastest Premier League goal of the season.

The Argentine scored again after seven minutes, this time from the opposite flank, as he finished with a left-foot volley at the far post from Glen Johnson's cross. The £1.5m it cost former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez to take Rodriguez from Atletico Madrid in January 2010 now looks to be one of the steals of recent years.

In the 16th minute, the shell-shocked Londoners conceded a third goal, when Dirk Kuyt received a simple pass from Johnson and drilled a low shot from 20 yards that Schwarzer meekly let slip through his fingers. Poor Fulham were stunned by Liverpool's blitzkrieg assault, and understandably took some time to recover their composure.

The home side posed few problems for Dalglish's team, and when they did get close to scoring, Liverpool's dogged determination, personified by Jamie Carragher in his 666th appearance for the club, kept them out.

Fulham manager Mark Hughes brought on Bobby Zamora after the break, and the England striker teed up Mousa Dembélé, who struck the ball into the bottom corner past Pepe Reina.

However Liverpool were too strong, and snuffed out the brief Fulham revival with a fourth goal, a 25-yard strike from Rodriguez to guarantee another match ball was his. The excellent Suarez added a fifth when he took a pass from substitute Jonjo Shelvey in his stride before rounding Schwarzer and sliding the ball into the empty net. Steve Sidwell struck Fulham's second goal with four minutes left, but did not bother to celebrate so complete was Liverpool's domination.

It was embarrassing for Hughes, who was booed by a section of Fulham fans despite the club's resurgence before last night's defeat. Hughes said: "It was all over after 15 minutes. That was a real body blow. We made consecutive errors for the goals, unforced errors and wrong decisions. Liverpool are a very good team, but we made them look better than they are."

Fulham (4-4-2) Schwarzer; Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, Salcido; Davies (Zamora, h-t), Sidwell, Murphy, Dempsey; Gudjohnsen (A Johnson, 67), Dembélé (Kakuta, 76). Substitutes not used Stockdale (gk), Senderos, Etuhu, Greening.

Booked Murphy, Dempsey, Salcido, Sidwell.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1) Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Flanagan; Lucas, Spearing; Kuyt, Meireles (Shelvey, 48), Rodriguez (Cole, 86); Suarez. Substitutes not used Gulacsi (gk), Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Poulsen, Robinson. Booked Skrtel, Reina.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Match rating 8/10.

Attendance 25,693. Man of the match Suarez.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam