London, Dec 13 (efe-epaLiverpool let its chance to get into the No. 1 spot in the Premier League table slip through its fingers on Sunday, battling to an unexpected draw against a tough and tricky Fulham.
The Reds were unable to take advantage of Tottenham Hotspur’s own difficulties – managing only a draw against Crystal Palace – to knock the league leaders off the summit – and were only able to pull out a draw in a hard-fought match where they could only muster the tie on a very late penalty kick goal by Mohamed Salah.
In their visit to London, the reigning champs looked sluggish and seemed unable to mount much of anything, whereas Fulham – on its home turf – got on the board first in the 25th minute and then seemed like it might be able to make it 2-0 and perhaps even 3-0, although that double possibility never came to fruition.
Bobby Reid scored first for Fulham on a great shot from inside the area, getting it by Alisson Becker, now back from a hamstring injury and in the net for Liverpool.
Liverpool seemed to need that bucket of cold water in its face to get itself going, but although it mounted attacks and took some shots it was just not up to snuff and its attempts came to nought for the remainder of the first half and most of the second.
Nevertheless, Fulham fired five shots on goal and Alisson was able to make a number of good saves to keep the home squad from expanding their scoreboard advantage.
Ultimately, a penalty gave Salah the chance to convert in the 79th minute, salvaging a single ranking point from what had looked like a blank outing.
With the draw, Liverpool has 25 ranking points, the same at Tottenham, ahead on goal differential, who was handily winning its match against Crystal Palace until the 80th minute.
Jose Mourinho’s squad faltered late as Crystal Palace pushed hard on its home turf, although Tottenham led throughout virtually the entire match, getting on the board first on Harry Kane’s tally.
However, Crystal Palace, coached by Roy Hodgson, appeared to come into its own in the second half mounting a series of attacks for the local 2,000 fans in the stands at Selhurst Park.
In the end, it was Jeffrey Schlupp who evened things up at 1-1 with nine minutes to go before the final whistle.
Erid Dier’s stoppage time free kick could have gotten Tottenham back on top, but the locals’ Spanish goaltender Vicente Guaita miraculously was able to fend it off, a dramatic save that rightfully made him the hero of the match for his side.
Crystal Palace is now in 11th place with 17 points.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fell apart against Burnley at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, finishing with just 10 men after a foolish red card was earned by Granit Xhaka and – more importantly – losing 1-0.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on the scene to score the match’s lone tally – albeit into his own net – as Arsenal delivered yet another terrible performance and result.
Yet, a slight bit of luck came the Gunners’ way as 16th-place Brighton were crushed by Leicester City, thus allowing Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal squad to retain their 15th spot on the Premier League table.