Jurgen Klopp’s side return to the top of the Premier League table, though they can be knocked off later today
A marginal offside decision piled further pressure on Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic as Liverpool’s mood was lifted by a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Aleksandar Mitrovic thought he had given the visitors a crucial breakthrough just before half-time only to be ruled out by the tightest of calls from assistant referee Adrian Holmes.
To add insult to injury, Liverpool scored 14 seconds later through Mohamed Salah’s 34th goal in his last 36 home appearances with Xherdan Shaqiri justifying his return to the starting line-up with their second just after the break.
In his programme notes Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, sensing the deflation which accompanied their midweek Champions League defeat to Red Star Belgrade, called for a performance which was “joyful and spirited”.
It was not quite that, but victory transformed a run of three wins in nine matches into four in six as they equalled their highest Premier League points tally (30) after 12 games, while also conceding their lowest number (five) at the same stage.
Despite these statistics they will still require rivals to take points off defending champions Manchester City, whom they briefly supplanted at the top of the table just a couple of hours before their derby encounter at the Etihad.
The stand-out number in this game was the 14 seconds between Mitrovic’s header going in at the Kop end to Salah’s strike at the other.
Mitrovic was flagged offside – though it was a tight call with Andy Robertson the deepest of the Liverpool defence – and goalkeeper Alisson Becker sprang into action.
Fulham may also have had cause to be aggrieved about a moving ball as the Brazil international took a quick free-kick but there was no argument about what happened next.
Trent Alexander-Arnold flipped a quick ball down the line and Salah was away, leaving three defenders trailing in his wake as he advanced into the penalty area before sliding a shot under goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
It proved to be the pivotal moment as, up to that point, the visitors had matched their opponents for shots on target and had arguably created the best opportunity when Ryan Sessegnon ran onto Mitrovic’s flick-on to fire narrowly wide.
The Cottagers had three shots on target in the first half, more than some expected them to have considering the conservative formation they lined up in, but their hosts were mainly limited to half-chances.
Shaqiri was the catalyst for most of their best work, twice firing wide while also producing a clever chip for Salah to shoot straight at Rico, while Sadio Mane and Alexander-Arnold both wasted good openings.
Liverpool pounced when the Cottagers were at their most vulnerable, still celebrating a ‘goal’, and from that point controlled the game.
Eight minutes into the second half they doubled their lead when another counter-attack saw Mane’s shot tipped over by Rico.
From the resulting corner Shaqiri cushioned home a side-foot volley from Robertson’s deep cross.