Liverpool maintained pressure on fourth-placed Manchester United on Wednesday night with a 1-0 win over Fulham at Anfield.
The Reds took control of the match early on, and almost registered the lead when Trent Alexander-Arnold's effort was placed just narrowly wide of the post. Fulham struggled to create anything meaningful in the opening 45 minutes outside of a strike saved by Alisson from Carlos Vinicius, and Liverpool eventually took the lead through a Mohamed Salah penalty. Fulham's Issa Diop failed to clear his lines before Darwin Nunez got to the ball, drawing the penalty.
The Cottagers enjoyed a bright spell after the restart as they looked to press higher up the pitch, but it wasn't until the 79th minute when they had their best chance of the game. Carlos Vinicius made the right decision with his effort directed inside the near post, only for a strong hand from Alisson to deny him for a second time.
Another win for Liverpool keeps their hopes of obtaining a Champions League qualification place alive, with the Reds now four points behind Manchester United. The most promising factor is that manager Jurgen Klopp's new system is working for Liverpool -- and that sets the foundation for next season, regardless of where his side finishes.
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The Reds started the second half slowly and gave away possession carelessly in moments. That could have seen them punished by stronger opposition.
Manager rating (1-10; 10 = best)
Jurgen Klopp, 7 -- Klopp used his squad well on the night, while his system helped maintain possession without Fulham ever really being able to create anything too significant. Liverpool's press meant the visitors were rarely able to establish any form of control.
Player ratings (players introduced after 70 minutes = no rating)
GK Alisson, 7 -- Dealt with the two meaningful efforts he faced across the game from Carlos Vinicius. Alert to deal with danger when Fulham played through-balls behind the defensive line.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 -- He was the Liverpool defender who was most alert to the danger against Fulham, where he was instinctive with his decisions and showed his dominance when winning the ball in the air.
DF Ibrahima Konaté, 7 -- - Strong when challenging for possession and excelled when passing out from the back, but communication with Virgil van Dijk could have been better at times when the defensive line wasn't in sync.
DF Konstantinos Tsimikas, 6 -- There were clear signs of some adapting to do in a slightly altered role for Tsimikas, who battled well in his challenges when staying back to form a back three. He chose the right moments to get forward too, and was quick to get a cross into the box.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 8 -- He shined again in his new free-roaming hybrid role, which allows him to get the ball in more dangerous area when attacking. He frequently came inside into central areas, and Fulham had difficulty in picking him up. The 24-year-old regularly made the right decision with his passing that helped him control the tempo of the game, and he also impressed with his defensive work.
MF Fabinho, 7 -- The Brazil international flourished on Wednesday night, with a number of well-timed interventions in midfield. Fabinho was quick to snuff out counter-attacks, making it difficult for anything to develop in the centre.
MF Curtis Jones, 6 -- Confidence is beginning to grow for Jones, with another promising display in midfield. An impressive turn and run saw him win a free kick in the first half when drawing a foul from Joao Palhinha. Kept things simple with his passing.
MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Dictated the press from midfield and condensed the play when Fulham were in possession, forcing the opponents into mistakes. Had an effort on the stroke of half time from outside of the box but couldn't hit the target. His long-range effort after the break was much better, but just past the post.
FW Darwin Núñez, 6 -- The Uruguay international worked hard and led the line with direct runs in behind, and it was his tenacity that won the penalty that Mohamed Salah dispatched, with Issa Diop unable to deal with his pressure. He could have done better with some of his link-up play when trying to play progressively.
MF Luis Díaz, 7 -- He continues his journey back to form with another bright display. The left-winger was dangerous when cutting inside with the ball, and took advantage of space during counter-attacks. Replaced after 66 minutes by Cody Gakpo.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 -- Mohamed Salah won the battle of the mind games with his penalty as he struck his effort down the middle for the second match in a row, and that defined an impressive display where he regularly got the better of USMNT star Antonee Robinson in isolated situations.
Andy Robertson (Tsimikas, 66"), 6 -- On for Kostas Tsimikas and defended his flank well. Had space inside the opposition box shortly after his introduction but couldn't make anything happen on his weaker right foot.
Cody Gakpo (Diaz, 66"), 6 -- It was almost a like-for-like change by Jurgen Klopp with Cody Gakpo also making an impact when cutting inside on his right foot. Ran well between the channels and linked pieces of attacking play together well.
Harvey Elliott (Salah, 83"), NR -- Worked hard when introduced, and tried to unlock Gakpo who moved into the striker role after the triple substitution.
Diogo Jota (Nunez, 83"), NR -- On for Darwin Nunez to play out the final seven minutes plus injury time, but was not able to continue his scoring run that saw him score five in his last three matches prior to Wednesday evening's clash.
James Milner (Jones, 83"), NR -- Brought on for Jones as Liverpool used Milner's experience to look to