Football: Liverpool join the race for EPL championship

Gerrad jumping to the summit

Steven Gerrard

The race for the Barclays Premier League in England took another twist Wednesday as Liverpool effectively joined the leaders after the victory at Fulham.

The race order would have remained unchanged after Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the League after a goalless draw with defending champions, Manchester United. But Liverpool staged a dramatic victory at Fulham with captain Steven Gerrard’s well-aimed penalty at extra time, making the team move to within four points of the summit.

Liverpool had to twice come from behind before Steven Gerrard’s stoppage-time penalty sealed a 3-2 win away to bottom-of-the table Fulham.

Arsenal were left a point behind leaders Chelsea on a night when title rivals Manchester City saw their match at home to Sunderland postponed because of severe weather battering the north-west of England that also saw Everton’s game against Crystal Palace called off.

And the draw did little for United’s fading hopes of claiming a Champions League place, with David Moyes’s side now 11 points adrift of the top four.

Tottenham Hotspur, who looked as if they would move to within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool, remained three behind the Merseysiders despite Emmanuel Adebayor scoring twice in a crushing 4-0 win away to Newcastle.

At the Emirates, a match of few early chances came to life in the final half hour.

Arsenal come close to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark when Per Mertesacker’s goal-bound header was nodded off the line by Antonio Valencia.

Former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie nearly caused his old club fresh misery when Wayne Rooney’s cross found him at the back post only for the Dutch forward’s header to be brilliantly turned onto the crossbar by Wojciech Szczesny.

Liverpool, fresh from their stunning 5-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield, found themselves behind in just eight minutes at Craven Cottage when Kolo Toure sliced Kieran Richardson’s cross over the head of Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and into the net.

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But four minutes before the break, Daniel Sturridge drew Liverpool level.

Ecstatic Gerrard after slotting in the winning goal
Ecstatic Gerrard after slotting in the winning goal

Gerrard’s superb pass over the top of the Fulham defence released his fellow England international and the striker steered the ball past keeper Maarten Stekelenburg as he scored for the eighth successive match.

Fulham, after Luis Suarez hit the post, went 2-1 in front when Martin Skrtel, Liverpool’s two-goal hero against Arsenal, made a mess of clearing a cross into the box and Richardson scored from just a few yards out in the 63rd minute.

However, Liverpool hit back in the 72nd minute when Philippe Coutinho curled a shot past Stekelenburg with the aid of a deflection off John Heitinga.

And just when Fulham were about to collect a precious point, the fifth minute of injury time saw Sascha Riether bring down Sturridge in the box and Gerrard score from the ensuing penalty.

At St James’ Park, Adebayor put Spurs 1-0 up in the 19th minute after Newcastle keeper Tim Krul pushed Nabil Bentaleb’s cross straight into his path. Adebayor was involved again when Spurs doubled their lead in the 53rd minute.

Dutch keeper Krul couldn’t hold Adebayor’s shot and Brazil midfielder Paulinho, who’d played in the forward with a backheel, tapped in from close range.

Krul’s night got worse eight minutes from time when he could only parry Andros Townsend’s shot from the edge of the area and Adebayor slammed the rebound into the turf and over the keeper to make it 3-0 to Spurs.

And before the final whistle, Nacer Chadli added a fourth goal with a stunning 25-yard strike.

Elsewhere, Stoke and Swansea shared the points in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium after Peter Crouch’s early goal for the hosts was cancelled out by Chico Flores’s equaliser for the Swans.