Dempsey grabs winner

2011-12-06 06:56

London - United States midfielder Clint Dempsey brought Liverpool's eight-match unbeaten run in the Premier League to an end on Monday, pouncing on a late error by goalkeeper Pepe Reina to earn Fulham a 1-0 at Craven Cottage and ease his team's relegation worries.

The Spain 'keeper failed to hold a speculative shot by former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy in the 85th minute, and Dempsey slotted home the rebound from close range for Fulham's third win of the campaign to lift the London club five points clear of the bottom three.

The visitors had been reduced to 10 men by that point after defensive midfielder Jay Spearing was sent off in the 72nd minute for an overzealous tackle on Moussa Dembele, at a time when they were on top and threatening a win that would have lifted them above Newcastle to sixth.

Liverpool hit the goal frame twice, through Jordan Henderson in the first half and substitute Stewart Downing just before Dempsey's winner, while Luis Suarez had a goal harshly disallowed for offside in the 67th.

But Spearing's dismissal was the turning point in a fractious match. There was nothing wrong with the youngster's initial full-blooded tackle but he followed through by catching the Belgium forward's leg, leading referee Kevin Friend to brandish the red card.

"He has won the ball but he has probably upset the referee with his follow-through," said Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, whose team lost for the first time since Sept. 18 to dent its hopes of keeping pace with its rivals for the Champions League positions.

Fulham manager Martin Jol said the sending-off was the pivotal moment in the game, which threatened to boil over a number of times - particularly when Dempsey went forehead-to-forehead with Craig Bellamy at the start of the second half.

"After the sending-off, we had a little bit more space and took advantage of that," Jol said. "I thought it was a bad tackle. I thought it was a sending-off."

Dempsey's 37th goal in the Premier League made him the most prolific American scorer in England's top division, surpassing the record he shared with former Fulham striker Brian McBride.

He nearly gave Fulham the lead minutes prior to eventually grabbing the winner, curling a shot against the bar before Downing went up the other end and smashed a fierce drive that was touched onto the post by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 84th.

"I think we would have taken something from the game if we had been left with all our men," Dalglish said. "I think we did enough to come away with something."

Spearing was only playing because Liverpool's first-choice midfield anchorman, Brazil international Lucas Leiva, was ruled out for the season last week with knee-ligament damage.

He took his enforcer role too far, though, leaving his team with an uncomfortable final 20 minutes to see out and spoiling an otherwise impressive display at the heart of a Liverpool midfield that dominated the second half.

With the match featuring two of the five meanest defenses in the league, the shortage of goals came as no surprise although Liverpool had come away from Craven Cottage with a 5-2 victory last season.

Maxi Rodriguez, the scorer of a hat trick in that match, was left out as Dalglish opted adventurously for a front three of Andy Carroll, Bellamy and Suarez. However, it was only in the second half that the trio came to life.

While Carroll was largely anonymous, Suarez was again lively and was denied a penalty when he tangled with Brede Hangeland. That incurred the wrath of a home crowd already unhappy with what it considered as playacting by the Uruguay striker on a number of occasions in the match.


  • Gunner - 2011-12-06 07:25

    Another sad day in the the history of LFC. Maybe you guys will be walking alone outside the top 4 at the end of the season...

      Brett - 2011-12-06 08:27

      Didn't see you commenting when LFC were on their unbeaten run... Another sad day for you, vulture.

      Bob - 2011-12-06 09:01

      Brett, this vulture is probably a manure supporter, if it wasn't for shocking referee desicions their trophy cabinet would only have half the amount of cups, another shocking display a ref and Liverpool are on the receiving end of it AGAIN, saying that we have to start taking our chances, we have outplayed so many sides this campaign only to walk off with 1 point or even worse, only Spurs have outplayed us over 90 minutes.

  • aadil.esack - 2011-12-06 08:53

    i never like to blame the ref but in over 25 years of watching footie, i have NEVER seen such a terrible, biased referee ! I've seen titles won & lost because a ref makes A bad call - this ref made not 1, not 2, but THREE big mistakes : 1) Suarez's goal was perfectly legit. Replays showed he was onside. 2) Denied us a clear penalty - why give the free kick outside the box when Charlie was brought down IN the box ? 3) Red card - we were totally outplaying the home team, until this. It was NEVER a straight red, and maybe a yellow at best This is disgusting - i can take a fair loss & live to fight another day, but this is shockingly bad, especially in the best league in the world ! We should appeal for a replay, behind closed doors if necessary. We played more than well enough to win, and yes, we are partly to blame for not taking our chances before the red card, but 12 against 10 away was always going to be tough We now need to go on another run, but not an unbeaten one, but a winning one, as thanks to this bought ref, we have lost ground WALK ON REDMEN !

  • Deon - 2011-12-07 11:24

    Funny how non of you lot were moaning when Rodwell was sent of for his "tackle" on Saurez which helped you guys beat Everton!!

      aadil.esack - 2011-12-07 11:50

      I've watched replays of that incident, and while it was definitely not a red, there was contact & he didn't win the ball. In Spearing's case, the youngster FIRST won the ball, cleanly, and his follow through is what caught the player - a yellow at best ! The Toffees were not exactly dominating the game in any case, so while it may have helped, it was not a game changer ! That aside, what about Suarez's goal incorrectly chalked off, the clear penalty on Adam & the other debatable one on Suarez ? After calming down, i realise that there is nothing we can do - hell, if if we won that game i would still have been pis#ed off at the ref, BUT, no use crying over spilt milk. We need to be more ruthless & take our chances so we don't end up in these situations That next run starts this weekend hopefully, and May is still a LONG way off

      Deon - 2011-12-07 22:48

      T@aadil.esack, the fact that Spearing won the ball cleanly is completely irrelevant. The challenge was rash in the first place - he was always going to go through the ball and then the player - a reckless challenge and therefore yellow. I'm still not entirely sure HOW he managed to go from a single foot on the ball to two-footed through the player, but the moment he did that, the punishment leapt straight to red for stupid, dangerous and excessive! The Referee was 100 per cent correct. Firstly for a red card to be issued immediately you have to deem the player to have used 'excessive force' which no one can argue Spearing did. Then if we take into consideration the fact both feet were off the floor he has also broken Law 12 of the game in that he has 'jumped at an opponent with excessive force' which is deemed Serious Foul Play. He has then also broken Law 12 in the fact that he has 'tripped or attempted to, an opponent with excessive force' which again is violent conduct. Take away the fact he won the ball from your mind. The fact a player has played the ball is irrelevant when it comes to judging a tackle. It is all about endangering your opponent, whether you touch the ball or not.

      aadil.esack - 2011-12-08 14:10

      Deon, that's just it - there was ZERO intent, and where was he supposed to go after he had won the ball ? Shockingly bad decision

      Deon - 2011-12-08 15:43

      @aadil.esack he caught Dembele with both feet studs up which is a red card offense plain and simple, there's no room for debate about it. The "showing of the studs" is what sealed his fate, if they weren't showing, a yellow card at worst would of been shown.

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