LONDON, England, December 6 – Clint Dempsey struck a late winner for Fulham to hand Liverpool a 1-0 defeat in a match which saw the losing side controversially reduced to 10 men at Craven Cottage here on Monday.
Jay Spearing was dismissed for a tackle on Mousa Dembele with 18 minutes remaining of the Premier League clash, then Dempsey struck, after Pepe Reina spilled the ball, bringing an end to the run of six straight away wins for Kenny Dalglish’s side.
Liverpool made five changes from the team that defeated Chelsea in the League Cup the previous week, but Andy Carroll kept his place and was supported by Uruguay forward Luis Suarez in attack.
They were without Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva, who had suffered a serious knee injury, so Spearing started just in front of the defence.
Fulham had Damien Duff out injured with a calf complaint but Dempsey returned and Dembele was passed fit after a knock.
Despite Fulham struggling for goals this season and Liverpool conceding the fewest goals in the league, both teams created chances throughout an open first half.
Dembele had a clear opening after six minutes following a move that he started himself. After feeding Bobby Zamora with a pass, the ball was worked to Bryan Ruiz.
Ruiz split the Liverpool centre-backs with a pass that released Dembele but Pepe Reina rushed out and saved with his feet.
Belgium midfielder Dembele also forced Reina into a save shortly after his first chance with a shot that angled towards the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
At the other end, Charlie Adam had a powerful volley blocked and a long-distance drive saved, while Carroll was on the end of a Suarez cross but Mark Schwarzer was equal to his volley.
Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise, former team-mates who clashed off the pitch while at Liverpool, faced each on the right flank and the Fulham full-back was fortunate not to be booked for one tackle.
From the other wing, Jordan Henderson cut inside and struck the post with a toe-poke just before the half-hour mark, with the ball fortuitously bouncing to safety for Fulham.
It also took a last-gasp tackle from Brede Hangeland to deny Carroll after Suarez had set up another chance for his strike partner.
Liverpool appeared to be on top but Dempsey had two efforts before the break. One went wide, and the other was saved well by Reina.
Bellamy and Dempsey were booked just after the restart when they confronted each other after a tackle, while Philippe Senderos was also cautioned when he brought down Adam when the Scotland midfielder was racing through.
Liverpool were creating the better chances. Jose Enrique met Schwarzer’s punch with a volley and the goalkeeper had to be down sharply to save.
Suarez was accused of diving when he went into the penalty area next and tried to get around Hangeland, with the assistant referee flagging for simulation.
Bellamy was also played through by Glen Johnson but got his angles wrong and screwed wide.
Liverpool thought they had taken the lead when Enrique chipped over the defence and Suarez took the ball past Schwarzer and volleyed in, but play was called back for offside.
The turning point of the game came with 18 minutes remaining when Spearing flew into a tackle with Dembele, taking the ball but also sending his opponent into the air. Referee Kevin Friend issued a straight red card.
Dempsey, who had struck the crossbar with a curling effort, took full advantage with five minutes remaining when he tapped in from close range after Reina spilled Danny Murphy’s shot.