Reds survive scare to reclaim top spot | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:02 AM, March 18, 2019

Reds survive scare to reclaim top spot

Liverpool usurped Manchester City to take top spot in the Premier League but needed a James Milner penalty nine minutes from time to see off lowly Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The on-form Sadio Mane put the visitors in front midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.

Fulham's awful defending all season is the reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight, and the hosts gave Jurgen Klopp's men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane and Milner secured all three points from the spot.

Liverpool now hold a two-point lead over City, but the champions have a game in hand.

"Average game, sensational result," said Klopp. "City don't look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That's our job to do."

Most of the visitors' attacking threat came down the left through Mane and he proved the source of the breakthrough on 26 minutes.

However, as a torrential rain poured to make conditions hazardous, Liverpool's slender lead proved a dangerous one.

Floyd Ayite was rightly flagged offside as he headed a deflected shot past Alisson before the Brazilian number one got down well to save from Andre Zambo Anguissa.

Disaster seemed to have struck for Liverpool when Van Dijk's header back towards Alisson didn't have enough purchase and Babel stepped in with the break of the ball to tap into an empty net.

"I am not giving excuses. I should have handled it better," admitted Van Dijk.

However, the league leaders showed why they are in the running to end a 29-year title drought to get a vital three points with the help of some erratic goalkeeping from Rico.

EVERTON DENT CHELSEA'S TOP-FOUR HOPES

In the day's later game, Maurizio Sarri endured a frustrating afternoon as his Chelsea side's second-half collapse saw them suffer a 2-0 defeat at  Everton.

Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, converting after his own saved penalty, scored the goals at Goodison Park that halted Chelsea's recent good run and weakened their bid to secure a top-four finish.

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