Liverpool have struggled at times this season to match the explosive, deadly pace they so often relied on for their success during the 2017-18 campaign. On Sunday against Fulham, though, there was at least one such moment.
With a Fulham goal from a set-piece waved off due to offside—a correct but controversial decision—the Reds broke forward at pace, two passes to send Mohamed Salah racing free from the halfway line and put Liverpool up by a goal.
“We caught them off guard,” left back Andy Robertson said of the first goal in Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Anfield. “They are all sprinting back and the ball is in the back of the net before they can even do anything about it.
“It’s harsh on them but that’s what all the top teams do and luckily we managed to do that. The first half was a bit of a struggle but Mo popped up at the right time and the second half was a really professional performance.”
Replays showed Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrović was indeed offside when the ball was played in to Liverpool’s penalty area, but it was a matter of inches and it was only the player stood behind Mitrović clearly in an offside position.
In real time, judging Mitrović to have been conclusively offside would have been nearly impossible for the linesman, and in such situations the rules say the benefit of the doubt is meant to be given to the attacking player.
It was the correct call, but also one that Fulham and their fans can rightly feel aggrieved to be on the wrong end of. And Liverpool didn’t hesitate. While Fulham paused, stuck between celebration and disappointment, the Reds struck.
“I’ve been there with Hull,” Robertson noted of Fulham’s failure to react. “You can’t put your finger on it but sometimes when you play against these big teams and you get a corner, it’s a relief and then you switch off.”