Salah salvages draw for off-key Liverpool at Fulham

A below-par Liverpool needed a late Mohamed Salah penalty to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, squandering the chance to return to the top.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson after scoring their team's first goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on December 13, 2020 in London.   -  GETTY IMAGES

A below-par Liverpool needed a late Mohamed Salah penalty to salvage a point in a 1-1 draw at Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, squandering the chance to return to the top.

Fulham led through Bobby Decordova-Reid's superb 25th-minute effort and Liverpool needed returning keeper Alisson Becker and some luck to avoid being further behind at the break.

Whatever manager Jurgen Klopp said to his champion at halftime had the desired effect as Liverpool was more like its old self in the second half.

There was still little of the attacking quality which propelled it to the title last season, however, and required Salah's 79th-minute penalty, awarded for a harsh handball against Aboubakar Kamara, to earn a point.

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Liverpool joined leader Tottenham on 25 points from 12 games after Jose Mourinho's side also drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace in an earlier kickoff. Fulham stays fourth from bottom with eight points but offered a display to hearten the 2,000 fans who were allowed to watch at Craven Cottage.

Klopp's side has dropped 11 points this season compared to the 15 from the whole of its title-winning campaign.

Skipper Jordan Henderson said Liverpool had been off the pace in the first half.

“We didn't really get going in the first 25 minutes which in the Premier League you can't do, you get punished, he said. “The good thing was we reacted well.

“We will look at it, but it's not like us.”

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Alisson, back after a hamstring injury, was required twice in the opening 15 minutes to deny Ivan Cavaleiro as Fulham dominated the opening exchanges with some slick football.

Liverpool got a lucky break when Cavaleiro appeared to have his standing leg clipped by Fabinho in the area but referee Andre Marriner declined to give a penalty after going to check a pitchside VAR monitor.

Fulham shrugged off that disappointment though and took the lead when Decordova-Reid dispatched an arrow-like right-foot shot that gave Alisson no chance.

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Forced to defend deep after the break Fulham was edging towards an unlikely win but Liverpool was awarded a penalty when Kamara was adjudged to have used his arm after jumping in the wall to stop Georginio Wijnaldum's free-kick.

It would have been harsh on Fulham had it been beaten late on but it dug in to end a run of six successive Premier League defeats against Liverpool.

“I thought in the first half there was some real quality about us,” Fulham manager Scott Parker said. “The fans played a big part today, we felt the atmosphere before the game and the players showed real spirit.”