Press Association match report

Liverpool rode their luck to see off Kevin Keegan's plucky Fulham and scramble through to the fourth round of the Worthington Cup.

The Londoners were primarily knocked out by a freak goal, and the sort of penalty decision which Michael Owen is making his trademark.

But Fulham at least scored the goal of the night through Paul Peschisolido, and only after a late Paul Ince header did they admit defeat.

Liverpool impressed only in patches, and it took them a long time to inject any urgency in the tie. They gave youngsters Danny Murphy and David Thompson their chance to impress, while Brad Friedel returned in goal, and Robbie Fowler was paired up front with Owen.

Fulham have suffered a couple of painful massacres at Anfield, 10 and five goals going past them over the years, but it was never going to be the case this time. Keegan's side has had £8million lavished on it to turn it into a serious Second Division promotion outfit, and they were brave, committed and well organised enough to trouble the Anfield men.

Fulham started, unashamedly, with most men behind the ball and they succeeded in stifling Liverpool's flow and presenting few gaps to exploit.

It was 10 minutes before Liverpool got a shot in, a powerful Paul Ince header from Thompson's corner that Gus Uhlenbeek blocked on the line.

But Fulham gave no hint of crumbling, and were dangerous on the break with a Steve Hayward striking a 20 yard shot that Friedel held, and then Kit Symons producing a towering header from a Hayward corner that Jason McAteer headed away from under the bar.

Gradually Liverpool gained the ascendancy and Fulham had to thank keeper Maik Taylor for keeping them level. But they finished off the first half with a warning sign to Liverpool, when Peschisolido struck a vicious drive from the edge of box which Friedel did well to save.

Three minutes into the second half, Taylor dived to his right to turn round a Fowler drive, and after 53 minutes Liverpool were ahead with a very fortunate goal.

Thompson collected the ball 30 yards out, advanced a few strides and drove a low shot that was hardly going to test Taylor until it took a wicked deflection off Simon Morgan to send the ball ballooning over the keeper.

That stung Fulham and they were level seven minutes later with a spectacular strike from Peschisolido. He took a pass from Sean Davies, turned Stig Bjornebye, and struck a superb curling shot high into the top corner over a floundering Friedel.

Fulham deserved that, but they were struck with another piece of terrible luck five minutes later. Owen scampered away and cut across three defenders in the box, the final challenge came from Uhlenbeek, with Chris Coleman close at hand. Loughborough referee Peter Jones pointed to the spot and Fowler struck the penalty wide of Taylor. It was a trademark Owen penalty box move, having learned quickly to angle his runs across defenders to invite the challenge.

That took the fire from Fulham, and when after 76 minutes Ince rose to send a header crashing past Taylor from Steve Staunton's free-kick, it was all over bar a couple of personal milestones.

Sean Dundee got on for his Liverpool debut as substitute for Owen after 82 minutes, and 37-year-old Peter Beardsley returned to the scene of former glories to a standing ovation four minutes from time.


Liverpool: Friedel, McAteer, Staunton, Fowler, Owen (Dundee 83), Berger, Ince, Bjornebye, Carragher, Murphy (Harkness 73), Thompson.
Subs Not Used: James, Kvarme, Riedle.
Booked: Bjornebye, Thompson.
Goals: Morgan 53 og, Fowler 66 pen, Ince 76.

Fulham: Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Collins, Davis (Smith 89), Lehmann (Betsy 83), Peschisolido (Beardsley 83), Hayward.
Subs Not Used: Neilson, Arendse.
Booked: Brevett.
Goals: Peschisolido 60.

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