Monday, April 12, 2010

Liverpool 0-0 Fulham

Our hopes of qualifying for Champions League next season seems gone. We really missed Torres absence. Liverpool's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League took another huge blow as they failed to break down resolute Fulham despite dominating possession.
Alberto Aquilani fashioned Liverpool's best chances but found Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer in inspired form.
The Australian thwarted Aquilani's early overhead kick and palmed away the Italian's curling 20-yard effort.
And Schwarzer was again equal to Ryan Babel's fierce strike as Fulham defended deep and frustrated Liverpool.
This game could have been a dress rehearsal for the Europa League final in Hamburg - if Liverpool and Fulham are able to overcome their respective semi-final opponents.
But if that is the case, the neutral will hope for a far less one-sided affair - as Liverpool attacked relentlessly but lacked the necessary guile to open the scoring.
Rafael Benitez's Liverpool side will take on Atletico Madrid after overcoming Benfica 4-1 at Anfield to win 5-3 on aggregate, while Fulham won 1-0 at German champions Wolfsburg for a 3-1 aggregate victory and will face Hamburg in their last-four encounter.
But, there were no signs that Liverpool were feeling the effects of their exertions in the week as they started brightly with chances falling to David Ngog, Maxi Rodriguez and Aquilani.
The home side had received an attacking blow prior to kick-off when talismanic 22-goal striker Fernando Torres was ruled out with a knee injury.
And Liverpool missed the Spanish international's cutting edge as they dominated, Ngog lashing a half-chance high and wide after being put through by Javier Mascherano early on.
Benitez admits defeat in race for fourth
Liverpool found joy down the flanks and an inventive piece of play by Aquilani almost brought the opening goal.
Glen Johnson's cross was headed back across goal by Steven Gerrard and Aquilani, with his back to goal, teed himself up an overhead kick but the shot flew straight into the hands of Schwarzer.
Seconds later Maxi was set loose in the box but he fired into the feet of the impressive Fulham stopper.
Schwarzer was again tested by Mascherano, who found space 25 yards out and looped a vicious half-volley towards goal which the keeper just managed to palm away to his right, as Liverpool threatened to run riot.
Hodgson delighted with Fulham persistence
Despite their stunning form in Europe, Fulham have not won on the road in the Premier League since the opening day of the season and their lack of attacking intent at Anfield gave an inkling as to why.
A double chance for Aquilani at the start of the second half suggested the second period would again be dominated by the home side.
First the Italy international's curled effort from 20 yards was touched over the bar by Schwarzer, before Aquilani drove a left-footed effort wide.
Fulham continued to defend deep and invite Liverpool on to them and Babel took the opportunity to test Schwarzer again with a fierce low drive which was pushed around the near post.
It began to feel like it would not be Liverpool's day when Greece defencer Sotirios Kyrgiakos headed over the bar when he really should have done better from five yards out after being set up by Dirk Kuyt.
And as the seconds ticked by Liverpool could not find the urgency or ingenuity to carve open the robust Fulham defence leaving the Anfield crowd frustrated and having to contemplate next season without Champions League football.
The result may also mean that if these two sides do meet again this season it would represent Liverpool's best chance of taking something out of a disappointing campaign.

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