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Liverpool 2 Fulham 1: Jones and Gakpo give Reds slender Carabao Cup semi-final lead after major scare against Cottagers

MARCO SILVA and his Fulham team could have left Anfield with two famous wins in the space of five weeks.

Instead, they were merely the latest in a long, long of teams to have self-destructed in front of the Kop.

Cody Gakpo came off the bench to score and turn the Carabao Cup semi-final on its head

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Cody Gakpo came off the bench to score and turn the Carabao Cup semi-final on its headCredit: Getty
His smart near-post finish came three minutes after Curtis Jones levelled

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His smart near-post finish came three minutes after Curtis Jones levelledCredit: Getty

After chucking away a 3-2 lead at Liverpool in the Premier League last month by conceding two goals in 80 seconds at the end, Fulham were at it again tonight.

Yet on this occasion, they could have blown their chances of reaching the final of the Carabao Cup.

But in many respects, this was even more painful as Fulham made life hard for themselves at a time they were defending so impressively and looking dangerous on the counter-attack.

Yet leading through a goal from Willian, they conceded two goals in the space of 102 seconds with Curtis Jones levelling with a shot which took a huge deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo.

And then with the Kop sensing another recovery, Darwin Nunez set up fellow sub Cody Gakpo to score a second.

Before the two goals, manager Silva looked bloody furious when, at 1-0, Bobby Decordova-Reid should have squared to give Andreas Pereira an easy tap-in.

Instead, Decordova-Reid’s shot was saved and Liverpool – playing with four strikers after their subs – made the most of some poor decision-making by the visitors.

Not all is lost for the West London side, obviously.

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And at least they did not concede any more goals as Liverpool seemed to be in the mood to score a few more.

An unlikely final between Fulham and Middlesbrough is a possibility and it would be one in the eye for those who incorrectly believe all cup finals should involve so-called big teams.

However, you would have to say that a Chelsea vs Liverpool final looks the most likely outcome despite the inconsistency shown by Mauricio Pochettino’s Stamford Bridge side.

So, Jurgen Klopp will have been happy, particularly considering his huge injury list.

Yet to be without ten players would hurt any manager with even the biggest of squads and Liverpool’s absentees included both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah.

While it was the German coach’s choice, the decision to rest keeper Alisson meant Liverpool were effectively without an entire team.

Curtis Jones' deflected strike drew Liverpool level

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Curtis Jones’ deflected strike drew Liverpool levelCredit: Rex

Even so, it seemed business as usual as Liverpool caused Fulham a few early problems.

Curtis Jones delivered a tame shot after some sloppy defending by Tosin while Diogo Jota’s shot flashed across the goal.

Yet Fulham, attacking towards the Kop, silenced the home crowd by scoring with their first proper attack.

Under pressure from Raul Jimenez, Virgil van Dijk delivered a weak header on the edge of his box, Pereira cut the ball back to Willian but he still had a hell of a lot of work to do.

Yet Willian skipped past young right-back Conor Bradley, danced around Ibrahima Konate and then squeezed a shot through the legs of Van Dijk and past Caoimhin Kelleher.

Rather than stinging Liverpool into action, the goal actually helped Fulham gain some sort of control over the game and they looked far more solid once they had gone ahead.

Willian tucked in at the near post after Virgil van Dijk's error

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Willian tucked in at the near post after Virgil van Dijk’s errorCredit: Rex

Van Dik ended up getting a caution for putting his palm in the face of Pereira when you would have liked the Fulham midfielder to get some sort of punishment for shamefully throwing himself to the floor and then claiming he needed treatment.

Joe Gomez dragged a shot wide at the end of the first half, and Ryan Gravenberch did the same at the beginning of the second period.

Yet Fulham still attacked and manager Silva was clearly livid with Decordova-Reid for shooting rather than refusing to square for Pereira. This was the game-changing moment.

Visiting keeper Bernd Leno had barely had a save to make apart from a cross-shot from Alexis Mac Allister.

But in their next attack, inspired by some hard work by Jota, Jones’ shot from outside the area took that deflection off Tosin who was guilty of turning his back on the shot.

And seconds later, Nunez – who made a big difference when coming on – picked out Gakpo to grab the second.

While this result will hurt Fulham, it could have been worse as Liverpool missed some late chances.

And Silva’s team still have a chance – however unlikely at this point – of winning the club their first major trophy.

Jurgen Klopp showed his passion on the sidelines

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Jurgen Klopp showed his passion on the sidelinesCredit: Reuters
Bernd Leno denied Darwin Nunez from making it 3-1

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Bernd Leno denied Darwin Nunez from making it 3-1Credit: Reuters
Fulham are still in the tie taking it back to West London

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Fulham are still in the tie taking it back to West LondonCredit: Rex

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