Daniel Sturridge’s hat-trick has given Liverpool solid, although meaningless, 3-1 win against Fulham in The Cottager’s last match at Craven Cottage of the season. Liverpool started the match looking the better side, keeping much of the possession in the opening minutes. Philippe Coutinho came close to putting The Red’s in front in the fourteenth minute when he beat a Fulham defender before unleashing a fierce shot on goal from twenty-five yards out, which Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer brilliantly pushed away. Although Fulham began to gain confidence, Liverpool managed to keep most of the possession.
Fulham looked dangerous on the counter-attack, and in the thirtieth minute the home side almost took the lead through Eyoung Enoh. Enoh’s dipping volley from thirty-yards out forced Reina to awkwardly catch it, but it was no real danger to Liverpool. Two minutes later Fulham surprisingly took the lead through Dimitar Berbatov’s fourteenth league goal of the season. Sascha Riether’s superb cross from the right found Berbatov unmarked six yards out from goal, and the forward brilliantly headed it into the corner of the net to put Fulham up. The Cottager’s lead was short lived though, and Liverpool equalized only three minutes later when Andre Wisdom’s long ball found Daniel Sturridge open in the Fulham half. Sturridge jinked past Aaron Hughes on the right side of the box, before smashing a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Although the tempo slowed down a bit after a breathless three minutes, Berbatov came close to regaining Fulham the lead, and Wisdom did well to block the Bulgarian’s header from Riether’s cross. But Fulham could not retake the lead before the end of the half, which ended 1-1.
Liverpool started the second half brightly, but Alexander Kacaniklic almost put Fulham up in the fifty-fourth minute, and his shot from twenty-yards out zipped just wide of the post. In the sixtieth minute Fulham had a big penalty shout when Ruiz’s cross from the right was clearly blocked by the hand of Lucas, but referee Mark Halsey did not award a penalty despite the furious shouts from the Fulham players. Only a minute later Liverpool took the lead, with Sturridge grabbing his second goal of the night. Coutinho slipped a pass in to Sturridge, who was open on the right side of the Fulham box, and the former Chelsea man’s first touch took it up to Schwarzer, and his second was a curling shot into the corner of the net.
Sturridge looked sure to grab his hat-trick, and after robbing Brede Hangeland inside the Fulham box he pulled a magnificent save out of Schwarzer to stop his shot from eight yards out. In the sixty-ninth minute Sturridge again almost found his hat-trick after acting selfishly. The Englishman received the ball on the right flank and ran into the box on a counter-attack, but instead of cutting it back to Jonjo Shelvey in miles of space on the, he opted to shoot, and Schwarzer brilliantly pushed away Sturridge’s curling shot to the far post. Liverpool continued to press, and Fabio Borini added to their tally of misses in the seventy-ninth minute. The Italian received the ball on the left flank and cut inside, before curling a stunning shot across goal, which hit the inside of the post, bounced across the goal-line, and bobbled away. Liverpool finally put the game to bed in the eighty-fourth minute, with Sturridge earning his hat-trick. Coutinho’s excellent sidefooted long ball flew into the path of Sturridge, who tipped it over an oncoming Schwarzer and into the back of the vacant net. The game slowed down, and after four minutes of added time, the match ended 3-1 with Liverpool earning the win.
Man of the Match: Daniel Sturridge