London: James Milner’s late penalty kick secured a hard-fought 2-1 win for Liverpool over host Fulham in English Premier League match and temporarily put the club in first place in the standings. Liverpool Senegalese winger Sadio Mane on Sunday broke the scoreless deadlock half-way through the first 45 minutes, while Dutch forward Ryan Babel made it 1-1 in the second half. Milner, a substitute, successfully delivered from the 12-yard mark for the Reds’ winner in the closing minutes.
“I have had years of practicing penalties, so you have to be calm and go back to what you know,” Milner said after the match.
With the victory, Liverpool regained the top spot in the standings, with 76 points, two points ahead of Manchester City, which was initially scheduled to take on cross-town rival Manchester United on Saturday. The match, however, was postponed because both teams played quarterfinal FA Cup matches on the same day.
Fulham, for its part, stayed in the second-to-last spot in the standings, with just 17 points. Liverpool managed to make the most of the errors committed by its rival, which is playing under the pressure of getting out of the relegation zone. Fulham was able to get back in the game after the 1-0 deficit on the score sheet, thanks to Mane’s opener. The Senegalese winger seized on the left-footed try by teammate Roberto Firmino, sending an accurate shot into the back of the net in minute 26 and securing a 1-0 lead for the visiting side by the half.
The Reds dominated play but failed to put the game out of Fulham’s reach, and Babel seized on a careless error by defender Virgil van Dijk in the 74th minute, notching the ball home for the equalizer before goalie Alisson Becker could make a play on the shot. The host team’s hopes of earning a point lasted only six minutes as the referee rewarded Liverpool with a penalty due to Fulham keeper Sergio Rico’s foul against Mane inside the box. Milner, who took the field in the 72nd minute, did not miss from the spot and netted the 2-1 winner nine minutes before the second-half stoppage time.