For photos from the match scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left. For stats, click on the match stats tab. Manager reaction below
Luis Suarez scored twice as Liverpool hammered Fulham 4-0 to move up to second in the Barclays Premier League.
Liverpool were scintillating going forward and Steven Gerrard's dangerous free-kick went in off Fernando Amorebieta to put them in front, before Martin Skrtel headed home a Gerrard corner to score his first goal since he struck in a 4-0 victory against the same opposition last December.
Suarez made it three before half-time and then helped himself to his eighth Barclays Premier League goal of the season with another clinical finish shortly after the break.
Brendan Rodgers' side could have won by a more emphatic margin, but they have now won three in a row at Anfield - scoring 11 goals in the process - and Chelsea's home draw West Brom ensured they moved up place to second, just two points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
Fulham, on the other hand, have lost their last four in all competitions and are languishing close to the relegation zone.
There were three changes to the Liverpool side who lost at Arsenal last weekend, with Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Agger making their first starts since September. Glen Johnson also returned as Jon Flanagan, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho missed out.
Defender Elsad Zverotic was handed his first Barclays Premier League appearance for Fulham and ex-Liverpool midfielder Alex Kacaniklic also started in place of the suspended Sascha Riether and Bryan Ruiz, who dropped to the bench.
Liverpool started brightly and they were in front after 22 minutes when Gerrard whipped in a free-kick from the right that struck Amorebieta and bounced inside the near post. There was more misery for Amorebieta three minutes later and Gerrard was once again the architect as Skrtel shrugged off the Venezuela defender before planting a bullet header beyond the helpless Maarten Stekelenburg.
Fulham were on the ropes and Stekelenburg produced a magnificent save to deny the influential Coutinho, but the Dutch goalkeeper was beaten again nine minutes before the break when Suarez raced onto Jordan Henderson's fine through-ball before finishing unerringly with his right foot.
Liverpool carried on where they left off at the start of the second half and Stekelenburg produced fine saves to deny Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. But Suarez added a fourth nine minutes after the interval when Gerrard robbed Kieran Richardson to play in the Uruguayan, who fired inside the near post.
Stekelenburg then denied Coutinho again with Fulham at sixes and sevens at the back and, despite creating several more clear-cut opportunities, Liverpool were forced to settle for a four-goal winning margin.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "It's great credit to the players, the performance was outstanding today.
"We weren't too down. You are obviously disappointed when you lose a big game, but Arsenal are probably one of the form teams in European football. We have had a real good week's work and the players and their appetite for the game was brilliant. If you mirror that with the quality, it was a really outstanding performance.
"I thought the goals were outstanding. I have always thought that Steven Gerrard, since I have come in here, his quality from a dead-ball - you look at him and David Beckham as two players who are way above anybody else in terms of quality. I have always felt with our players that they haven't scored enough goals from his deliveries, because he puts it exactly where you want him to put it. We have started to do that a lot more regularly.
"We can still be relentless in our pressure to score more goals, but we wanted a clean sheet today. That was something that was important, so we got everything in the performance. It was a good three points for us."
Fulham manager Martin Jol: "Goals change games but they scored twice from set-pieces. We then had a big hill to climb and they were the better team. After conceding the first two goals it was almost impossible to get back in the game.
"We were not good off the ball - they played around us and we needed more toughness and aggression, which is what we did in the second half. This is a side in the top three and four, so you try to get these games out of the way and try to get a result.
"There are a few players who will go off on international duty so that will not help. We couldn't get a good result against a top side. The second half was not enough - you can't start like that and concede goals like that. But we are still up for the fight."
|23 Nov 2013||v Everton (A)|
|01 Dec 2013||v Hull (A)|
|04 Dec 2013||v Norwich (H)|
|07 Dec 2013||v West Ham (H)|
|15 Dec 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|21 Dec 2013||v Cardiff (H)|