Seventeen-year-old Lewis Miley’s first senior goal set Newcastle on their way to a seventh successive Premier League win at St James’ Park as they beat 10-man Fulham 3-0.

The midfielder, thrust into the action as a first-half substitute after Fabian Schar and Joelinton had been added to head coach Eddie Howe’s lengthy casualty list, fired the Magpies into a 57th-minute lead and saw Miguel Almiron and Dan Burn follow suit to clinch a hard-fought victory.

Fulham, who had striker Raul Jimenez sent off with just 22 minutes gone after needlessly careering into and flooring midfielder Sean Longstaff, frustrated the hosts for long periods but eventually succumbed in front of a crowd of 52,035.

Howe had insisted in advance there could be no hangover from Wednesday night’s Champions League exit and his players set about their task with relish in a bid to end a run of three consecutive defeats.

In the absence of the suspended Kieran Trippier, defender Schar took charge at a fifth-minute free-kick and after tapping the ball short to Anthony Gordon, he whipped a curling shot just wide of Bernd Leno’s left post.

However, the visitors, who had scored five without reply in each of their last two matches, had arrived intent on taking advantage of any weariness among the black and white ranks and repeatedly stretched the home defence on the counter.

Bruno Guimaraes fired high over from Gordon’s 17th-minute pull-back after Jamaal Lascelles had muscled Jimenez off the the ball with the striker needing treatment after being caught by a flailing arm.

The frontman was even more aggrieved five minutes later when, after referee Sam Barrott had been invited to review his ugly challenge on Longstaff, the official upgraded the yellow card he had originally awarded to a red.

Newcastle came desperately close to the opening goal on the half-hour when Gordon controlled substitute Emil Krafth’s cross and smashed a left-foot shot against the underside of the bar before Callum Wilson headed straight at Leno from Gordon’s cross.

Burn then did just enough to put Alex Iwobi off as he shot having run on to Joelinton’s loose pass with Martin Dubravka having earlier fielded Joao Palhinha’s long-range attempt.

Leno denied Longstaff after he had run on to Tino Livramento’s through ball and the half-time whistle arrived with the sides still locked together.

Guimaraes drilled a speculative effort straight at Leno as the home side resumed on the front foot but lacking the necessary invention or precision to fashion genuine opportunities until Gordon sent Leno full-stretch from Wilson’s lay-off seconds before Miley tested him with a rising drive.

However, it was the academy graduate who finally made the breakthrough with 57 minutes gone when, after Guimaraes had driven into the penalty area, he fired low across Leno and inside the far post.

The second goal arrived within seven minutes when Gordon’s through ball evaded Wilson and defender Antonee Robinson and fell nicely for Almiron to slot into an empty net.

It was three with eight minutes remaining, Burn bundling home at the far post after Leno had repelled his initial header.

Eddie Howe will look back on his first Champions League campaign and agonise over the “if only” moments which cost Newcastle a place in the last 16.

The 46-year-old head coach steered the Magpies to within touching distance of the knockout stage only for their qualification hopes to be dashed by Wednesday night’s 2-1 home defeat by AC Milan, during which they were in pole position to progress when they led 1-0.

Instead of looking forward to the draw for the next round, Howe is instead preparing his injury-hit squad for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Fulham, with the controversial penalty decision which cost them victory at Paris St Germain and their failure to deal with the set-piece which led to Milan’s equaliser prominent in his thoughts.

 

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He said: “We were so close, so, so close while being really stretched with our resources, and that’s why I have to compliment the players on what they’ve given.

“It could have been very different and I just think we should take confidence from the fact that the hardest group, we were so close to achieving it.”

Newcastle secured a Champions League berth for the first time in 20 years courtesy of their fourth-place finish last season, an achievement which arrived barely 18 months into the tenure of their Saudi-backed owners and significantly ahead of schedule.

Asked if he had spoken to the ownership group and what had been said in the wake of Wednesday night’s disappointment, Howe replied: “ I think they see the work that goes on behind closed doors and they have close relationships with the players. We are like a family, we’re very close.

“That’s not just me with them, it’s everybody connected with the club. There’s just that feeling that they’re very supportive of the players and understanding of how much they’ve given. They can see the efforts on the pitch, and I think that’s the most important thing.

“That’s why I have no regrets over what the players have given over this Champions League campaign. I might have regrets over a couple of other things, but not at all over what the players have given. That’s always the biggest judgement for me.

“If you’re looking at it analytically, the players did incredibly well last year to finish where they did. It was miles ahead of schedule because, in pre-season, no one was talking about top four or Champions League football.

“You have to give the players a lot of credit, so what you can’t then do is give them a lot of credit and then hammer them at the same time because we couldn’t then follow that up.”

Howe did, however, admit that the exit from Europe could have financial implications for his January transfer budget.

He said: “Of course, going out of Europe will have repercussions financially for us because we’re going to lose revenue on games that we could have had, but that’s all been budgeted for and we’ll see where we stand.”

Influential full-back Kieran Trippier will miss Saturday’s game through suspension, while midfielder Joe Willock and striker Harvey Barnes, who has suffered a setback in his recovery from a toe injury, are unlikely to figure before the turn of the year.

Rebecca Welch is not the first footballer to have told a referee just how they should do their job – but a decade later, it is her own decisions which are now set to be front and centre in the Premier League.

On December 23, Welch will break new ground once again when she takes charge of Fulham against Burnley at Craven Cottage.

Yet but for taking one of her friends to task, Welch, 40, might never have given refereeing a go herself.

“I played football and didn’t even think about refereeing until one of my really good friends, who is a referee, refereed us,” she said in an interview with the Independent in November ahead of becoming the first female to act as fourth official in a Premier League match for Fulham against Manchester United.

“I spent the whole game telling her how to do her job! Her response was, ‘If you think it’s that easy, give it a go’. That’s how it happened and 10 years later, here I am.”

Welch’s love of the game stemmed from playing, but it was with the whistle where she made her mark.

At the start of her refereeing career in 2010, Welch, who is from Washington in Tyne and Wear, was still working in an administrative capacity for the NHS.

After gaining her badges through the Durham County Football Association, Welch began taking charge of university games as well as in Sunday leagues.

It was, though, not long before she took it up on a full-time basis and soon climbed through the ranks.

Welch has regularly refereed high-profile games in the Women’s Super League and took charge of the 2017 and 2020 Women’s FA Cup finals at Wembley.

She has also officiated in the Women’s Champions League, the latest fixture being Benfica’s 1-0 win over Frankfurt on December 13.

Added to FIFA’s elite list of international officials during December 2020, Welch was part of the team at the 2022 Women’s Euros as well as this year’s Women’s World Cup, which included refereeing hosts Australia in their last-16 win over Denmark.

Welch is also no stranger to firsts in the men’s game.

In 2021, she was the first woman to be appointed to referee a match in the Football League for the Sky Bet League Two fixture between Harrogate and Port Vale.

Walsh later took on matches in the Championship – she was in charge of Hull’s 4-1 win over Rotherham on November 28 – and also the third round of the FA Cup.

Despite Welch now set to find herself in the spotlight, with every decision under the microscope at Craven Cottage on December 23, she is not about to let anything distract her from just getting on with the job, according to referee’s chief Howard Webb.

“Rebecca is a really calm, focused individual on the field. She does command a lot of respect in a pretty understated way. When you meet her, she’s got a presence about her,” Webb said.

“She has a good reading of the game, she is an accurate decision maker, a good athlete on the field too and has really worked hard to get to this position over several years.

“She has good reading of the game, good subtle management of the players as well and I have got no doubt she will show all of those qualities at Fulham on the 23rd.”

Rebecca Welch will become the first female referee in the Premier League when she takes charge of Fulham against Burnley on December 23.

Welch became a referee in 2010, balancing the role alongside her job in the NHS.

In 2021, she was the first woman to be appointed to referee a match in the Football League for the Sky Bet League Two fixture between Harrogate and Port Vale.

Welch, who comes from Washington in Tyne and Wear, was also the first woman to referee matches in the Championship and third round of the FA Cup.

Last month she became the first female to act as fourth official in a Premier League game as part of the officiating team for Fulham against Manchester United.

During her career, Welch has also officiated high-profile matches in the Women’s Super League, twice refereeing the Women’s FA Cup final and she has also taken charge of international matches, including at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

What the papers say

Conor Gallagher, 23, could be used to raise funds for new arrivals at Chelsea in January. The Daily Mail reports the club are willing to consider offers for the England midfielder with Brentford striker Ivan Toney, 27, and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen, 24, among the potential targets.

Brentford are looking for a new striker, regardless of whether Toney stays, according to The Daily Telegraph. USA international Brandon Vazquez, 25, who is at FC Cincinnati, is among the players in their sights.

Manchester United are open to offers on a string of internationals, according to The Guardian. England winger Jadon Sancho, 23, France striker Anthony Martial, 28, and defender Raphael Varane, 30, Brazil midfielder Casemiro, 31, and Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek, 26, could all be allowed to leave Old Trafford in January.

David Moyes retains the confidence of West Ham says The Daily Telegraph. The 60-year-old manager saw his side lose 5-0 at Fulham on Monday.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Mason Holgate: Everton want to recall the defender, 27, from his loan spell at Southampton due a shortage of playing time, reports The Sun.

Reuell Walters: Clubs in the Premier League and Europe are watching the English defender, 18, but Arsenal have held talks to keep him according to the Evening Standard.

Fulham boss Marco Silva hailed his side’s 5-0 thrashing of West Ham as even better than the display that had seen them beat Nottingham Forest by the same scoreline four days earlier.

The floodgates have certainly opened for the Whites in recent weeks, with David Moyes’ men the latest side to be put to the sword as five different scorers struck in a fine home win.

Raul Jimenez opened the scoring to take his personal tally to four in five games having previously not scored a Premier League goal since March 2022, when he was a Wolves player.

Willian and Tosin Adarabioyo goals then had the hosts coasting at the break before a fine effort from substitute Harry Wilson and late effort from Carlos Vinicius added the gloss.

Jimenez’s upturn in form has dovetailed nicely with Fulham’s as a whole – in their previous three outings heading into this London derby they had scored three to beat Wolves, three in a losing effort at Liverpool and five to down Forest in midweek.

Silva said he had “no doubts” that the overall performance of his side eclipsed Wednesday’s win, adding: “It was a brilliant performance from us. A great one at a very, very good level.

“We were the best team on the pitch, not just because we won 5-0 but also the way we performed from the first minute and the players understood the plan and executed it so well. The way we did it was almost a perfect afternoon for us.

“First of all of course, confidence builds confidence and the best example of this is Raul – since he scored the first goal against Villa.

“We are not really different now, we changed and adjusted some things but the faith in our players was always there.”

While he was able to celebrate 10 goals across the last two games, Silva was also delighted his side kept two clean sheets as Fulham moved into the top half of the table.

“I think it is crucial,” he added.

“Apart from the goals it has been the best feeling, it was crucial this afternoon and I told them at half-time when we were winning 3-0 that the main goal was to keep playing in our way, score the fourth if you can but the clean sheet has to be the challenge for the second half.

“It is really important to create this mentality, try to win games but also try to be as solid as you can…I’m really pleased for it and it was one of the best feelings we got.”

West Ham boss David Moyes bemoaned the short turnaround between Thursday night’s comeback win at Tottenham and their trip to Craven Cottage.

“I think just the carry over from the game,” he said when asked why he felt his side had fallen to a heavy loss.

“We used up too much energy in midweek and we weren’t able to get ourselves back, another Thursday fixture. No excuse for the result.

“(It is) disappointing but we have had two difficult away games this week, three points from those two games is not a bad return.”

The Hammers have had to get used to Thursday Europa League games followed by Sunday Premier League kick-offs this season but Moyes believes having a squad carrying a few injuries has not helped.

“We haven’t normally had to try and play all the same players, we could have easily had a game on Wednesday but we didn’t – it was Thursday.

“(Lucas) Paqueta has been carrying an injury, there is an illness in the camp so we have had to deal with that as well.”

Fulham hit five goals for the second time in a week as they thrashed West Ham at Craven Cottage to move into the top half of the Premier League.

The floodgates have certainly opened for the Whites in recent weeks, with David Moyes’ men the latest side to be put to the sword as five different scorers struck in a fine 5-0 home win – just four days after Fulham beat Nottingham Forest by the same scoreline.

Raul Jimenez opened the scoring to take his personal tally to four in five games having previously not scored a Premier League goal since March 2022, when he was a Wolves player.

Willian and Tosin Adarabioyo goals then had the hosts coasting at the break before a fine effort from substitute Harry Wilson and late effort from Carlos Vinicius added the gloss.

Jimenez’s upturn in form has dovetailed nicely with Fulham’s as a whole – in their previous three outings heading into this London derby they had scored three to beat Wolves, three in a losing effort at Liverpool and five to down Forest in midweek.

A rasping free-kick from James Ward-Prowse had Bernd Leno diving across his goal to make an early save, but that would be as good as it got for West Ham.

It was Fulham who missed the first gilt-edged chance of the afternoon, Jimenez picking out Willian with a perfectly-weighted ball over the top of the West Ham defence only for the forward to shoot tamely at Lukasz Fabianski.

With the hosts enjoying more of the ball, they took the lead as Jimenez’s fine run of form in front of goal continued as he crashed home a header from Joao Palhinha’s cross to the back post.

The lead was doubled just after the half-hour as Willian curled home into the far corner after possession had been recycled following Fabianski’s save from an Alex Iwobi strike.

Bowen passed up a decent opportunity to get West Ham on the board as he shot straight at Leno when picked out in space in front of goal.

The visitors were struggling at both ends as an Iwobi half-volley deflected off Aaron Cresswell to flash wide of the post only for Adarabioyo to rise high and steer the resulting corner past Fabianski to extend Fulham’s advantage.

There could have been another before the interval but Fabianksi’s outstretched leg prevented Iwobi’s cross from reaching its target.

While Willian was forced off injured at half-time, replaced by Wilson, Moyes made two alterations to his West Ham side as he introduced Emerson and Konstantinos Mavropanos.

Wilson should have scored 10 minutes after the restart as a slick move ended with the midfielder inside the box but unable to guide his effort beyond Fabianski.

He more than made amends as he hit the fourth goal on the hour, curling a superb 20-yard strike beyond the reach of Fabianski to send Craven Cottage into raptures.

Moyes made further changes, more likely to rest the weary legs of the likes of Mohammed Kudus and Kurt Zouma, and they did dominate possession in the latter part of the game but still managed to ship another late goal.

Harrison Reed, whose own goal settled the corresponding fixture in favour of the visitors last season, picked out Wilson with a raking pass forward and the Wales international showed an unselfish touch to square for Vinicius to complete the rout with a tap-in.

What the papers say

Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha is reportedly high on Mikel Arteta’s transfer wish list. According to the Daily Mirror, the Gunners’ boss views signing a new central midfielder as one of his priorities ahead of the January transfer window, with Palhinha considered a top prospect. Any move would also signal the end of Thomas Partey’s time with the Gunners.

Should Palhinha depart Fulham, the Telegraph reports the club already have an alternative in mind. The paper says Brazilian midfielder Andre, of Fluminense, is the club’s number one target to replace Palhinha at Craven Cottage.

Elsewhere, The Independent says Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is ready to clean house. According to the paper, the club are willing to hear offers for midfielder Casemiro, defender Raphael Varane and winger Jadon Sancho.

And The Times reports Sunderland are interviewing Swedish coach Kim Hellberg to take over as manager following the dismissal of Tony Mowbray.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jarrad Branthwaite: The Everton centre-back is high on Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou’s wanted list, according to Sky Sports.

Adrien Rabiot: The midfielder is willing to sign a new deal with Juventus, reports Gazzetta Dello Sport.

Steve Cooper dismissed fears about losing his job as pressure mounts on the Nottingham Forest boss.

Forest were hammered 5-0 at Fulham on Wednesday – a fourth straight Premier League defeat – which left them six points above the drop zone.

The former Swansea manager accepts his position will be under scrutiny – with former Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui thought to be a serious contender if he leaves – but ahead of Saturday’s trip to Molineux Cooper insisted he cannot consider the sack.

He said: “I don’t think like that. That is not a good way to think, it is like saying to a player ‘you have to play well or you will not play again’ – it is not a thought process I believe in using.

“We are disappointed with results and last night’s performance. More than ever you have to show belief and character and what you stand for.

“There are going to be questions and stories, I respect that as it is the life of a football manager.

“At the same time you have to stay honed in on your day’s work and if I let anything else creep in I am not giving 100 per cent to the job and that is what I want to do.”

Cooper, who took Forest back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years in 2022, said after the hammering at Craven Cottage that he did not deserve the backing from the fans he received as he left the pitch.

He he also refused to blame his players for their showing on Wednesday after doubles from Alex Iwobi, Raul Jimenez and a Tom Cairney strike sunk the visitors.

Cooper told a press conference: “I would never split myself from the players. We are a collective, it’s not about me getting let down, it’s the supporters who were let down by all of us – and that starts with me.”

Under-pressure Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper is not thinking about losing his job despite a 5-0 defeat at Fulham.

Alex Iwobi and Raul Jimenez bagged braces and Tom Cairney also scored to heap more misery on Cooper, who has seen his team lose their last four Premier League matches.

Cooper said: “It was a painful night and a scoreline we deserve.

“We didn’t show enough desire and will make up for it. We pulled out of tackles and lost races. If you show the lack of desire you run the risk of getting what we got tonight.

“I’m grateful (for the fan support). I have to take responsibility for it and it’s on me. I have to take ownership for that but it’s embarrassing and they don’t deserve it.

“Yeah, course I do (feel like the right man to turn it around) but I probably think about that the least but I feel about what is right about the football club.

“Technically we let ourselves down with the giveaways when there’s no pressure on the ball.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about (losing his job) and what’s right for the football club is right for me. I haven’t spoken to (the owner) since the game.”

Former Wolves striker Jimenez is playing with confidence again, taking his goal tally to three in four games.

Fulham boss Marco Silva said: “It was nice to see Raul score goals in the last few games. The players are more confident and Raul after he scored his goal at Villa went to Anfield and put a very good performance in.

“He’s much more confident now and looks fresh. He was fantastic tonight but he was at Anfield as well. He was able to win the duels and showed unbelievable commitment.

“I knew these things would come. It is a consequence of his hard work and it’s really nice to see.

“The goal at Villa was a relief for him and from that moment we’ve seen a much more fresh player with more confidence because of the quality he has.”

Prior to his strike at Villa Park last month, the Mexican had not scored since March 2022.

Silva added: “It’s really important (Jimenez’s mentality). It’s important in life and for any player.

“He kept the same intensity in all the training sessions and in terms of commitment he was always there and of course all the belief from the staff and his team-mates were a big help for him.

“I have had some conversations with him and he never shows that he feels under pressure and I know how he was feeling in those moments (when he had not scored).

“When it looks dark it will not always be like that when you work hard and the good times will come again.”

Alex Iwobi and Raul Jimenez scored doubles as Fulham heaped the pressure on Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper with a 5-0 Premier League victory at Craven Cottage.

Tom Cairney also found the net to ensure the Cottagers bounced back from their late disappointment at Anfield on Sunday and condemned struggling Forest to a fourth consecutive defeat.

A scrappy opening period offered little until Forest midfielder Nicolas Dominguez produced a quality pass into the feet of Divock Origi, who tested Bernd Leno from range in the 17th minute.

Fulham took time to warm up after Sunday’s 4-3 agonising defeat at Liverpool.

Andreas Pereira almost opened the scoring in the 26th minute.

The Brazilian stood over a set-piece and used a whipped technique which narrowly missed the inside of Odysseas Vlachodimos’ post.

And not long after Fulham converted a chance to take a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.

Willian produced a moment of genius when he jinked inside onto his right foot and produced a perfect back-post cross to Iwobi, who avoided his marker to tap home from close range.

The Cottagers had the bit between their teeth and scored a second in the 34th minute.

A well-timed challenge in midfield by Joao Palhinha saw Iwobi combine with Pereira before he slipped in Jimenez and the striker rifled his effort into the top corner.

The Mexican, who had struggled for goals earlier in the season, looked full of confidence.

On the stroke of half-time Iwobi nearly grabbed a second when he did well to turn on the edge of the box before producing a curled effort from range which almost nestled into the top corner.

Forest forward Anthony Elanga ran the ball out of play in the 51st minute which summed up a dull showing from the visitors.

Iwobi’s dominating performance got even better when the Nigeria international produced a dangerous cross which was slightly too high for the rising Jimenez.

But moments later, in the 54th minute, Jimenez took his chance and grabbed his second of the match.

The creative Pereira found Jimenez and he brought it down on his chest and rounded Vlachodimos before finishing with a deft backheel into the empty net.

Fulham grabbed a fourth through Iwobi after 73 minutes.

Harry Wilson found space down the byline and his cutback found the winger who finished first time to grab his brace.

Cairney got in on the action to make it 5-0 after 86 minutes.

The skipper wandered into acres of space through the middle of Forest’s backline and calmly stroked home.

What the papers say

Bayern Munich will face stiff competition in their pursuit off Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha, 28. The Daily Telegraph reports at least two Premier League sides are watching the Portuguese player ahead of the January transfer window.

Arsenal are eyeing a move for Juventus youngster Kenan Yildiz, according to The Sun via Turkish-Football. The 18-year-old moved from Bayern Munich in the summer and earned his first Turkish call-up in October.

Jadon Sancho remains on course for a January exit from Manchester United. The Daily Mirror reports the England winger, 23, is “training like a beast” to prepare for the transfer window.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Douglas Luiz: Aston Villa have put a £110million price tag on the midfielder to fend off interest, according to Football Transfers with Arsenal leading the pursuers.

Samuel Iling-Junior: Tottenham and Newcastle are interested in the English winger, 20, with Juventus making him available, according to Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed their dramatic late 4-3 Premier League win over Fulham as a “game you will never forget” after his side scored twice in the final four minutes of normal time.

The hosts looked to be heading for a first Anfield defeat since February – when Real Madrid, no less, were victorious – only for Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold to snatch an 11th-successive home win this season.

It was just reward for Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s vice-captain, as his brilliant free-kick to open the score was credited as a Bernd Leno own goal after the ball went in via the underside of the crossbar and the goalkeeper.

Alexis Mac Allister’s first goal for the club since his move from Brighton in the summer was even better – a rising 30-yard drive into the top corner to re-establish their lead after former Liverpool forward Harry Wilson had equalised.

But more shaky defending allowed Kenny Tete to make it 2-2 before half-time and substitute Bobby De Cordova-Reid thought he had snatched three points in the 80th minute, only for Liverpool to produce a late rally.

“The feeling after the game was exceptional. During the game it was slightly different in moments,” said Klopp.

“I told the boys after the game turned out, the game we saw, because we were a bit dumb.

“But at 3-3 everyone could see the boys wanted more and because we were a bit lucky today, we got it.

“An outstanding experience for everyone who was here. I don’t think anyone would have thought before the game that Liverpool v Fulham will be a game that you will never forget in your life. But… you’re welcome.

“I never saw a competitive game with this amount of ‘worldies’. Trent’s free-kick: unbelievable. Macca, before the game you could see his foot was right today and I thought today, ‘You better try it’ and he obviously thought the same.”

The win was not without setbacks however with centre-back Joel Matip expected to be sidelined for some time with a knee problem.

“We lost today Joel and we have obviously no scan yet but after all you hear and can see that will not be a short one. Unlucky, but we have to get through this,” added Klopp.

Fulham boss Marco Silva saw his side end the week having scored six times in two Premier League matches – after just 10 in their previous 12 – and was frustrated not to have got something from their trip to Anfield.

“Clearly we deserved much more from the game than what we took,” he said.

“To come to Anfield and play the way we did – twice we scored to equalise – and then at the end of the second half to be able to score a great team goal and be leading is not an easy thing.

“We know the game is never 100 per cent under control against these types of sides and these types of crowds but the game was more or less under control.

“(Then) one long ball, a good second ball from them and another great finish from the edge of the box and in that moment I knew it was the end of the match.”

Liverpool staged a dramatic late comeback to beat Fulham 4-3 after some hapless defending wasted two world-class strikes from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alexis Mac Allister and left them staring at a rare Anfield defeat.

The Cottagers looked like being the first side since Real Madrid in February to win at Anfield – and the first in the Premier League since Leeds in October 2022 – after substitute Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s 80th-minute goal.

However, Japan international Wataru Endo, who had spoken on the eve of the game about how difficult he had found the top flight since his arrival in the summer, sparked the comeback when he stroked home the equaliser seven minutes later.

When Alexander-Arnold grabbed his second of the game barely a minute later, Liverpool’s 100 per cent home record was extended to 11 matches to move back to within two points of leaders Arsenal.

While thrilling, it was an unnecessary end to a game which the hosts should have controlled much better, especially after the quality of the early goals they scored.

Fulham were operating with a compromised goalkeeper after Bernd Leno played almost 100 minutes with a bandaged head having being injured in an eighth-minute incident which saw Mohamed Salah’s goal ruled out for offside after spilling Dominik Szoboszlai’s shot.

But while Liverpool had plenty of attempts on goal, Leno was not properly threatened until it became last-chance saloon territory.

The problem was at the other end where they allowed a team averaging just one Premier League goal a game all season to score three times away for the first time since April – also on Merseyside at Everton.

Either of Alexander-Arnold’s or Mac Allister’s goals were worthy match-winners and the fact they were not will have been of considerable frustration to both players and boss Jurgen Klopp.

A trip on Szoboszlai 25 yards out was all the invitation Alexander-Arnold needed as he dispatched a 25-yard free-kick – Liverpool’s 50th of the season – via the underside of the crossbar.

It had all appeared so easy to that point and part of the problem was a team showing six changes from the midweek win over LASK struggled to get out of second gear.

Worryingly for Klopp, at the start of December it seemed his side lacked the energy needed to properly dominate opponents but even Fulham’s unexpected equaliser four minutes later failed to provide the wake-up call.

Their right side was exposed with Alexander-Arnold central covering for Virgil Van Dijk, who was returning from a run upfield, and former Red Harry Wilson squeezed a near-post shot under Caoimhin Kelleher from Antonee Robinson’s cross from the Cottagers’ first attempt on goal.

Retaking the lead in brilliant fashion was only a small part of what was required from the home side.

Luis Diaz’s mazy run caused issues and Kenny Tete’s poor clearance was compounded by Raul Jimenez’s poor header back into the danger area and Mac Allister’s path.

The Argentina international allowed the ball to bounce across his body before unleashing a rising drive which found the same top corner Alexander-Arnold had: his first Liverpool goal and a worthy 500th at Anfield in Klopp’s 219th game at the ground.

Jimenez and Tete made amends with the former flicking on a near-post corner for the latter to nod past Kelleher, making his first Premier League start of the season for the injured Alisson and although he was flagged offside, VAR overruled.

The assistant’s flag did come to Liverpool’s rescue, however, deep into added time when Kelleher kept alive Joao Palhinha’s header and an offside Tim Ream tapped in.

Leno’s legs denied Salah just before interval and although Klopp’s side increased the tempo after the break, the same problems remained with Darwin Nunez’s shot deflected behind and Szoboszlai firing wide from the subsequent corner.

Nunez had yet another game where his contribution was minimal and he smashed an angled drive against the crossbar and also bundled the ball wide after twice being set up by Salah.

Then came the sucker punch as substitute De Cordova-Reid out-jumped Kostas Tsimikas at the far post.

Endo had a header saved and Salah fired over the rebound before the Japan international stroked home the equaliser, setting up Alexander-Arnold to deliver the killer blow.

VAR will have to be removed from football if officials cannot find ways to use the technology more effectively, says former England midfielder Darren Anderton.

The use of video assistant referees has come under the spotlight this season, with a series of high-profile errors marring games in the Premier League and across Europe.

In September, Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool's loss to Tottenham due to a "significant human error" which refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) subsequently apologised for.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta made headlines when he described the decision to allow Newcastle United's winning goal against Arsenal as a "disgrace", while Wolves boss Gary O'Neil said he had "finally turned against VAR" on Monday after Fulham were awarded two highly contentious penalties against his team.

There was also controversy in the Champions League on Tuesday as Newcastle's Tino Livramento was harshly penalised for handball, allowing Kylian Mbappe to score a stoppage-time equaliser from the spot as Paris Saint-Germain rescued a 1-1 draw against the Magpies.

While Anderton believes VAR was brought in for the right reasons, he cited frustrating delays after goals and repeated mistakes as reasons why many wish to see the back of it.  

"I would have [liked VAR] in the FA Cup semi-final in 1993 when I got brought down!" Anderton, who was part of a Tottenham side beaten by Arsenal on that occasion, told Stats Perform.

"I think it's a good thing and the idea of it is good, to make the right decisions, but it's not happening and that's a problem. 

"There is nothing better than scoring a goal and you should be able to celebrate it and not worry that it's going to be chalked off.

"I feel like it's almost at a point now that whenever there's a goal scored, you're looking for something for it to be ruled out. I think that's sad. 

"I think that's sad for players to have to be that way because the adrenaline of scoring a goal in a Premier League game or for your country... there is no better feeling. 

"If it's taken away, it's taken away, but when you've got to stand there for three minutes, four minutes, you've got to be able to celebrate those moments. They're what you play the game for. 

"So unless it gets better, they're going to have to get rid of it, and that's wrong, because you do want the right decisions in football games."

While the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has been discussing expanding VAR's remit to include other incidents such as yellow cards and corners, Anderton has a different idea.

He suggested VAR should be part of a challenge system similar to that used in the NFL, saying: "I don't know whether you just go to a point where now, like in American football, managers get a challenge. 

"You get two or three challenges in the match so it doesn't become a hundred-minute football match. It's pretty crazy, and it's frustrating to watch. I'm with everyone on that."

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