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Ding Junhui beats Shaun Murphy in Welsh Open

Ding races into Welsh Open final after putting Murphy to the sword

Ding Junhui impressed in beating Shaun Murphy in the opening semi-final of the 888 Welsh Open in Newport.

The 24-year-old from China secured a 6-2 victory over the former world champion to reach his first ranking event final of the season. He will tackle either Ronnie O'Sullivan or Mark Selby, who contest the second semi-final on Sunday night.

Ding has endured a disappointing campaign, suffering frequent first-round defeats and failing to reproduce the form which took him to the Crucible semi-finals last year.

Final fling: Ding Junhui beat Shaun Murphy to reach the Welsh Open final

Final fling: Ding Junhui beat Shaun Murphy to reach the Welsh Open final

But in Wales this week he has raised his performance, although he had more than a little luck yesterday when quarter-final opponent Stephen Lee looked like winning a deciding frame, only for a ringing mobile phone to distract him during a key shot on the green.

Lee missed, Ding took advantage, and against Murphy today he was dominant.

Ding took a scrappy opening frame, before a break of 126 from Murphy made it 1-1.

Sprightly runs of 91 and 71 from Ding gave him a two-frame cushion by the interval, making it critical for Murphy that he should go no further behind.

Duly the Englishman made a break of 90 to take the next frame, but it would be his last.

Ding pulled 4-2 clear with an 86, and a 75 took him to the brink of victory.

Murphy was having just as many scoring opportunities as his opponent, but he was proving far less efficient than Ding in converting the chances into frame-winning breaks.

Both men had several openings in the eighth frame, but errors flowed. Murphy should have narrowed the gap yet after opening up a 37-point lead at 52-15 he missed a red which should have been routine.

Ding, the former UK and Masters champion, then had a chance to clinch victory in one visit but spurned it.

There was no cause for alarm though. Thanks to a poor safety from Murphy he was soon back at the table, and soon wrapping up his win.

Ding took the final red and added the black before sweeping up all the colours.

Steve Davis beats Ali Carter at Welsh Open

Davis back to his best to beat Carter and make last 16 at Welsh Open

Steve Davis revealed his motivation was to keep his ranking lower than his age after producing one of his best performances in recent years to knock Ali Carter out of the first round of the 888 Welsh Open.

Carter led three times in the all-Essex clash, but Davis' tactical mind remains sharp and he managed to ally it with a wonderful display of break-building, compiling two centuries as he set up a last-16 clash with Shaun Murphy.

'I played with a certain amount of freedom and took my chances,” Davis, currently ranked 43rd in the world, told www.worldsnooker.com. “My dad, who is still my coach, said that I'm playing well enough in practice for it all to come together in a match, and that happened today.

Looking good: Steve Davis beat Ali Carter

Looking good: Steve Davis beat Ali Carter

'I don't like it when I lose, but when it goes right it's lovely and I have to enjoy the moment. My aim now is to keep my ranking lower than my age and to see how long I can keep that going.

'You have to look at every match as, at best, the toss of a coin. I could keep winning or I could go out in the next round.'

Carter led 1-0 after a 68 and, after Davis responded with 61 to level the match, the world number 11 moved ahead once more.

Davis produced a vintage 121 clearance, though, to leave the players level once more at 2-2.

He had to come from behind again after Carter took frame five with an 83, but he levelled with 63 and then produced his second century clearance, 117, to take the match.

Judd Trump cruised through 4-0 against Fergal O'Brien to set up a clash with the winner of Stuart Bingham's match with Mark King.

Trump took the opening frame despite a kick when on a break of 58, and he made a 61 in the second before returning to finish the frame off with some exhibition shots.
He took the third after O'Brien jawed a long red and saved his best for last, wrapping up the match with a break of 104.

John Higgins was another high-profile winner this evening, with 4-1 win over Liang Wenbo, while Ding Junhui hammered Mark Davis 4-0 in the morning.

Shaun Murphy overcame Mark Joyce 4-2 after a slow start, coming from 2-0 down with breaks of 65, 71, 71 and 89 to turn the match around, while Tom Ford overcame Graeme Dott 4-2.

Fulham 2 Stoke 1: Pavel powers Cottagers past profligate Potters

Fulham 2 Stoke 1: Pavel powers Cottagers past profligate Potters

Pavel Pogrebnyak's debut goal helped Fulham on the way to victory against out-of-form Stoke in the Barclays Premier League.

The Russia international joined Martin Jol's side from Stuttgart on transfer deadline day and quickly made his mark at Craven Cottage.

Despite training with his new team-mates for the first time two days ago, Pogrebnyak fitted in seamlessly and, at first glance, seemed a more than ample replacement for Bobby Zamora as he netted 16 minutes into his debut.

Opening salvo: Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) fires home Fulham's first

Opening salvo: Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) fires home Fulham's first

MATCH FACTS

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Murphy (Etuhu 80), Duff, Dembele, Dempsey, Ruiz, Pogrebnyak (Davies 62). Unused subs: Stockdale, Baird, Gecov, Frei, Trotta.

Goals: Pogrebnyak 16, Sorensen og 28

Booked: Hangeland

STOKE: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Shotton 68), Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Walters, Whelan, Palacios, Etherington (Pennant 67), Jones (Fuller 66), Crouch. Unused subs: Begovic, Whitehead, Jerome, Woodgate.

Goals: Shawcross 78

Booked: Wilson, Palacios

Referee: Chris Foy

The 28-year old controlled a wayward
John Arne Riise shot to rifle home, before Fulham double their advantage
as Clint Dempsey's superb 30-yard drive rebounded off the bar onto
goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen's back and in.

Pogrebnyak's afternoon ended in the
62nd minute as he hobbled off injured and Stoke ensured a nervy ending
to the match when captain Ryan Shawcross reduced the deficit from a
corner.

However, Fulham held on for a fifth win in seven home games as Stoke fell to a fourth successive league defeat.

Both sides made four changes apiece for the match, which began slowly on a bright afternoon by the Thames.

Neither team proved a real threat
during the opening exchanges, although Mousa Dembele was impressing for
the hosts despite playing in an unusual role alongside Danny Murphy in
central midfield.

Nowhere to hide: Peter Crouch

Bundle!: Fulham's Clint Dempsey (right) celebrates his goal

Bundle!: Fulham's Clint Dempsey (right) celebrates his goal but Stoke's Peter Crouch can't look (left)

The Belgium international was leading
the City defenders a merry dance and put an incisive ball behind the
Stoke backline but Damien Duff's cross was stopped by Sorensen.

Fulham were soon in the ascendancy
and, aside from a tame long-range Glenn Whelan that Mark Schwarzer held
with ease, Jol's side were bossing possession.

The Cottagers turned that dominance
into a 16th-minute goal as Pogrebnyak controlled a wayward Riise inside
the box and unleashed a fierce drive into the top left-hand corner.

Knees up: Fulham's Damien Duff (left) tries to thwart Andy Wilkinson

Knees up: Fulham's Damien Duff (left) tries to thwart Andy Wilkinson

The Russia international was
fortunate not follow up his debut goal with a booking shortly afterwards
for a late challenge on Wilson Palacios, who soon dusted himself down
to shoot just wide.

Kenwyne Jones was another pushing for a Stoke equaliser, although that task was made harder in the 28th minute.

Out of the blue, in-form Dempsey
fired a 30-yard effort that rattled the crossbar and rebounded onto
goalkeeper Sorensen – and in off his back.

On the rise: Stephen Kelly can't get near Peter Crouch

Double-teamed: Mousa Dembele and Aaron Hughes (back) challenge City's Crouch (centre)

Handful: Stoke City's Crouch proved a handful for Fulham all afternoon, particularly in the air

The second goal left Stoke looking
devoid of ideas going forward and they had Shawcross to thank for
stopping a third at the other end.

Pogrebnyak was proving difficult to
handle and darted down the left, before firing a cross into the six-yard
box that would have been tucked home by Dempsey was it not for the
Stoke defender's clearance.

Dempsey became the game's focal point
as half-time approached, with Marc Wilson and Palacios picking up
bookings for challenges on the American midfielder.

American hero: Clint Dempsey punishes Stoke and notches a second

American hero: Clint Dempsey punishes Stoke and notches a second

Murphy curled just wide from the
first free-kick on the edge of the box, before the Fulham skipper's
chipped ball into the box would have been tucked home by Duff had
Sorensen not been alert to save.

Stoke looked rejuvenated immediately
after the restart and came close to reducing the deficit through
Matthew Upson, who volleyed Whelan's free-kick just wide in the 47th
minute.

The visitors were by no means
dominating second-half proceedings, though, and a Stephen Kelly cross
almost crept inside Sorensen's near post moments later.

Peter Cr-Ouch!: Aaron Hughes lands a blow on the Stoke striker

Close control: Ryan Shawcross tries to tackle Pogrebnyak

Cr-Ouch!: Aaron Hughes lands a blow on the Stoke striker (left), while Pogrebnyak holds off Ryan Shawcross

The match was began to ebb and flow more as the half wore on, before Fulham were forced to change things.

Pogrebnyak appeared to fall awkwardly
in a challenge with Shawcross and had to be replaced in the 62nd minute
by Simon Davies, which resulted in Dempsey moving into attack.

Stoke made changes of their own in a
bid to change the course of the game shortly afterwards as Pulis used
his full complement of substitutes.

Heads we win: Stoke's Kenwyne Jones is beaten by Hughes and Stephen Kelly

Heads we win: Stoke's Kenwyne Jones is beaten by Hughes and Stephen Kelly

Ricardo Fuller, Jermaine Pennant and Ryan Shotton all came on and the changes soon had the desired effect.

Aaron Hughes deflected a Fuller shot
out for a corner, which was crossed in by Pennant and flicked home at
the near post by Shawcross.

Peter Crouch flashed a shot over from
close range as Stoke pushed for a leveller, leading Jol to bring
Dickson Etuhu on for Murphy in a bid to shore things up.

Sorensen had to react quickly to
prevent Dempsey netting a last-gasp third after a defensive mix-up,
before the United States international hit the post after rounding the
Danish goalkeeper towards the end of the the five minutes of stoppage
time.

Alan Pardew bemoans defending in Newcastle Fulham defeat

Pardew bemoans costly errors as Newcastle slump to heavy Fulham defeat

Alan Pardew admitted a ‘lack of mental concentration’ cost his side as Newcastle United slumped to a 5-2 defeat by Fulham and missed the opportunity to go fifth in the Barclays Premier League table.

After taking the lead through a stunning Danny Guthrie strike just before half-time, Newcastle conceded four goals in 16 minutes.

Penalties from Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora and a Clint Dempsey hat-trick marked a remarkable comeback from Fulham, although Hatem Ben Arfa did score a late consolation goal for the visitors.

Penalty! Fulham's Andy Johnson is fouled by Tim Krul inside the box

Penalty! Fulham's Andy Johnson is fouled by Tim Krul inside the box

Newcastle boss Pardew said: ‘Defending has been our strength all season and for 20 minutes we did not do it very well.

‘In the first half, I don't think Fulham even had a shot, maybe one wayward shot. It was just a lack of mental concentration in the second half that cost us. We have to make sure it does not happen again.’

Guthrie branded his side’s performance ‘unacceptable’ and said the players let themselves down.

The midfielder, 24, said: ‘We were completely in control and 1-0 up. We’ve let ourselves down second half.

Spot on: Danny Murphy scores a penalty as Fulham win 5-2

Spot on: Danny Murphy scores a penalty as Fulham win 5-2

‘You should never put yourself in that position. There was a 20-minute period when it was just unacceptable and they were getting in behind us too easily. It was really disappointing.’

Newcastle could have gone above Arsenal into fifth on Saturday evening, just two points below fourth-placed Chelsea, who were held at Norwich City.

But Pardew said he is not targeting Champions League qualification this year, insisting reaching the Europa League would still reflect a very successful season for Newcastle.

False dawn: Danny Guthrie had put Newcastle ahead with a fine strike

False dawn: Danny Guthrie had put Newcastle ahead with a fine strike

He said: ‘I don’t think we are really in that (the fight for a Champions League spot).

‘I think we are realistic enough to know that if we qualify for the Europa League it will have been a fantastic season for us; an absolutely unbelievable season for us.

‘The players have played to their maximum all season except for 20 minutes at Fulham. I can't moan as a manager about this team they have been brilliant.’

Fulham v Newcastle stats

Coventry 3 Middlesbrough 1

Coventry 3 Middlesbrough 1: Two sent off for Boro as Sky Blues soar to victory

An inspirational performance from debutant Alex Nimely helped basement club Coventry to a 3-1 victory over nine-man Middlesbrough who suffered their third successive league defeat.

The on-loan Nimely, who spent the first half of the season with Middlesbrough, set up Gary McSheffrey for the game's opening goal and added a second early in the second half after Kevin Thomson had been sent off.

Middlesbrough captain Matthew Bates then scored at the wrong end after a clever cross from Coventry substitute David Bell.

Gone: Kevin Thomson was sent off in the first half

Gone: Kevin Thomson was sent off in the first half

MATCH FACTS

Coventry: Murphy, Keogh, Hreidarsson, Cranie, Christie, Clingan, Deegan (Bell 46), Thomas, McSheffrey, Nimely, Platt (Eastwood 79)

Subs not used: Dunn, Wood, Baker

Goals: McSheffrey 36, Nimely 57, Bates og 64

Bookings: Deegan, Hreidarsson

Middlesbrough: Coyne, Hoyte (McMahon 70), Bennett (McManus 69), Bates, Williams (Smallwood), Thomson, Robson, Arca, Haroun, McDonald, Emnes

Subs not used: Ripley, Martin

Goals: McDonald 66

Bookings: Thomson, Williams, Robson

Red cards: Thomson, Arca

Scott McDonald pulled one back for the visitors who made three quick substitutions to try and turn the game in their favour.

But the hosts held on with Boro winger Julio Arca seeing red in the closing stages for a two-footed lunge on Sammy Clingan.

Middlesbrough's new signing Lukas
Jutkiewicz was denied the chance to face his former employers due to an
agreement between the two clubs.

But fellow striker McDonald was presented with two glorious opportunities inside the opening nine minutes.

He latched onto a mistake from Sammy
Clingan only to volley straight at Joe Murphy before the Sky Blues
stopper produced a magnificent save to deny the same player moments
later.

Murphy continued to impress as
another flowing Middlesbrough move culminated in a Joe Bennett drive
which was tipped over by the Republic of Ireland international.

The dynamics of the game then shifted
significantly when the hosts broke the deadlock in the 36th minute as
Nimely fed McSheffrey to slot home from inside the area.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men
moments later when Thomson, who had been harshly booked just 11 minutes
earlier for bringing down Cyrus Christie, was shown a second yellow
card.

The midfielder could have no
complaints over his second caution as he flew in with his studs showing
to bring down goalscorer McSheffrey.

The game threatened to boil over in
the aftermath of Thomson's dismissal and that prompted Coventry boss
Andy Thorn to substitute Gary Deegan, on a yellow card, for Bell at
half-time.

Nimely, making his first appearance
since joining on loan from Manchester City, failed to score during his
time with Boro but he headed home 57 minutes into his Coventry career.

Boro felt the ball had not crossed
the line as a defender hooked it clear but the assistant referee was
perfectly placed to award the goal.

Nimely was involved in the third goal
seven minutes later as he released Bell out wide and his first time
cross was touched in by Bates with Clive Platt in close pursuit.

Boro responded instantly when Marvin
Emnes' driven cross was nodded in by McDonald and Mowbray attempted to
rally his troops with a triple change.

But Coventry used their extra man
advantage to close out the game as Middlesbrough's dismal afternoon was
completed in stoppage time when Arca earned their second red card.

Anthony Modeste to move on loan to Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn looking to bring in Bordeaux striker Modeste on loan


Target: Blackburn hope to secure Anthony Modeste on loan

Target: Blackburn hope to secure Anthony Modeste on loan

Blackburn Rovers are close to finalising a loan deal for Bordeaux striker Anthony Modeste.

The former France U21 international was left on the bench for Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Valenciennes as a Blackburn contingent attended the game.

The loan move has been discussed, and Bordeaux are happy to let Modeste, 23, go, with a possibility the move could be made permanent in the summer.

It is a timely signing with Blackburn striker Yakubu facing a ban after his sending off at the weekend, for a high tackle on Danny Murphy.

League Two round-up: Southend move to within a point of Crawley

League Two round-up: Southend move to within a point of Crawley

Southend moved to a point behind League Two leaders Crawley Town after a 3-0 win over 10-man Port Vale.

Mark Phillips' eighth-minute header put them ahead before Liam Dickinson nodded in the second just before the half-hour.

On the Mark: Phillips heads home Southend's first against Port Vale

On the Mark: Phillips heads home Southend's first against Port Vale

Gareth Owen's close-range own goal, under no pressure at the far post, 10 minutes after the break made it 3-0 before the visitors' misery was compounded when Clayton McDonald was sent off for a second bookable offence as the Shrimpers went second.

Crawley were involved in the FA Cup today, deservedly beating Bristol City of the npower Championship 1-0 thanks to Matt Tubbs' 73rd-minute strike.

Oxford moved into seventh place after beating Aldershot 3-0. Jon-Paul Pittman's eighth-minute header was doubled by Michael Duberry, and on the stroke of half-time Peter Leven completed the scoring.

Crewe made hard work of beating bottom side Plymouth at home as they twice let their opponents back into the game in the 3-2 win.

Two goals from Luke Murphy put Alex in control at half-time, but Adam Dugdale's foul on Warren Feeney allowed Simon Walton to score with a penalty five minutes into the second half.

The home side re-established their two-goal cushion just three minutes later through Ashley Westwood's spot-kick but even then they gave Argyle hope by allowing Matt Lecointe to score.

In the last minute Plymouth had Conor Hourihane sent off for a second bookable offence as Crewe held on.

Northampton moved three points clear of Plymouth at the bottom after a 2-1 win over Morecambe.

Goals either side of half-time from John Johnson and Akwasi Asante ensured Kevin Ellison's 81st-minute goal counted for nothing.

Fulham want Mark Noble for 4m

Fulham move for 4m West Ham man Noble as Jol eyes Murphy replacement

Fulham have opened talks with West Ham over a 4million move for Mark Noble.

The Cottagers are keen to find a long-term successor for veteran midfielder Danny Murphy and the former England Under 21 man is their top target.

Mark my words: West Ham midfielder Mark Noble is wanted by Fulham

Mark my words: West Ham midfielder Mark Noble is wanted by Fulham

Fulham have watched Noble on several occasions this season and have been suitably impressed with his performances, and the Craven Cottage club have made official contact with West Ham over their interest in the 24-year-old midfielder.

Whether Hammers manager Sam Allardyce would allow a key component of his squad to leave Upton Park in the middle of a promotion charge back towards the Barclays Premier League remains to be seen.

But more discussions between the two London clubs are planned ahead of the reopening of next month’s transfer window.

Mark Allen edges out Marco Fu at UK Championships

Allen edges out Fu to book semi-final showdown with Walden at UK Championships

Mark Allen will meet Ricky Walden in the semi-final of the UK Championships in York after he edged Marco Fu 6-5 in a thrilling match on Thursday.

Allen dug deep for victory after his Chinese opponent had won three successive frames to take a 5-4 lead.

In the pink: Mark Allen

In the pink: Mark Allen

Fu appeared to be on the verge of moving into the last four but the Northern Irish player did not buckle under the pressure and booked his meeting with Walden who enjoyed a surprise 6-3 victory over Shaun Murphy.

Neil Robertson beat Ding Junhui 6-2 to book a semi-final spot with Judd Trump who secured a 6-3 win over Stephen Maguire.

Allen was first to show in a cagey opening and he looked sharper than his opponent who never got going to take an uninspiring opening frame.

Matters continued in the same vein in the second frame with Fu failing to even hit the ball on his first visit to the table whereas Allen was clearly picking up in form.

However, Fu finally found some form in the third scoring 73 and reducing the deficit to 2-1.

The Chinese player maintained his form in the next frame with a break of 68 to draw level.

The next frame was drawn but it was Allen who won on the respotted black.

Allen then opened up a 4-2 lead but a break of 131 saw Fu claim the next.

Allen seemed to have the eighth won but Fu drew level with an emphatic 63 clearance for 4-4.

The 33-year-old then went ahead for the first time after winning three in a row and he appeared to be on the verge of victory but Allen dug deep and a break of 66 saw it go to 5-5 to send the match into a decider.

Allen then came to life in the final frame and his relief was palpable as he moved into the last four.

It will be Walden”s first appearance in the semi-finals.

The world number 22 eased through the first frame with a break of 70, but gifted the second and third to Murphy.

Walden levelled before confidently taking the next three frames.

Murphy secured the eighth with a 61 break, but Walden secured the win with a break of 71.

Fulham 1 Liverpool 0: Christmas comes early for Jol as Reina gifts Cottagers win

Fulham 1 Liverpool 0: Spearing has off night as midfielder walks for reckless challenge

Premier League highlights

Few grounds can be decorated for the season of goodwill quite as cosily as Craven Cottage, bedecked with fairy lights and holly and a giant Christmas tree outside the dressing rooms.

But if ever a game defied its quaint location then here it was: a thrilling and pulsating skirmish laced with bitter feeling and controversy.

Clint Dempsey scored the only goal, tucking in a rebound after Pepe Reina spilled a shot he ought to have held from Danny Murphy, five minutes from time.

Jumping for joy: Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring Fulham

Jumping for joy: Clint Dempsey celebrates after scoring Fulham”s winner against Liverpool

MATCH FACTS

Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise, Dempsey, Murphy (Gecov 90), Etuhu, Ruiz, Dembele, Zamora (Johnson 71).

Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Kasami, Hughes, Frei, Briggs.

Booked: Dembele, Dempsey, Senderos.

Goals: Dempsey 85.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique, Henderson, Spearing, Adam, Bellamy (Downing 77), Suarez, Carroll (Kuyt 77).

Subs Not Used: Doni, Maxi, Coates, Carragher, Kelly.

Sent Off: Spearing (72).

Booked: Bellamy.

Att: 25,688

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Liverpool were already a man down after Kevin Friend decided Jay Spearing’s aggressive midfield challenge on Moussa Dembele was reckless enough to be worthy of a red card in the 72nd minute.

Spearing won the ball cleanly but he followed through hard into Dembele’s ankle and left the Belgian writhing on the ground.

Martin Jol thought it was a red card but Liverpool certainly did not, with seven players surrounding referee Friend to dispute the decision, which could easily lead to an FA charge for intimidation.

There was no shortage of flashpoints or talking points. Dempsey clashed angrily with Craig Bellamy in the second half, with Fulham’s match-winner fortunate to stay on the pitch after going head to head and screaming in Bellamy’s face.

It seemed an over-reaction to a clumsy challenge from the Liverpool striker, who stepped on Dempsey’s foot as he chased him from behind. Bellamy pleaded his innocence, wiping his face to suggest he might have been sprayed with spit. Both players were booked.

Philippe Senderos, too, could have been dismissed. He was booked for a cynical foul on Charlie Adam on the edge of the penalty area. It was very close. It could easily have been interpreted as a penalty. Bellamy’s free-kick took a deflection and flashed wide.

Soon after, Senderos dragged Andy Carroll down in an off-the-ball clash. It was caught on the television cameras but it escaped the officials.

Winner: Dempsey slots home after Pepe Reina spilled Danny Murphy

Winner: Dempsey slots home after Pepe Reina spilled Danny Murphy”s effort

Clint Dempsey of Fulham scores the opening goal

From start to finish there was also a running battle between the home crowd and Luis Suarez, which ended with the Uruguayan flicking a finger towards the stands as he left the pitch after the final whistle to chants of ‘Cheat, cheat, cheat’.

He had worked hard up front alongside the largely anonymous Carroll and his frustration built up and boiled over as Liverpool dominated the first half but failed to beat the excellent Mark Schwarzer.

The Aussie keeper made a string of brilliant saves from Carroll, Adam and Jose Enrique but kept his best for the closing minutes, when he tipped a long-range effort from his former Middlesbrough team-mate Stewart Downing on to the post.

Out of order: Liverpool

Out of order: Liverpool”s Luis Suarez made a gesture to Fulham fans after they had taunted the striker

Jordan Henderson also rattled the woodwork in the first half. Collecting the ball on the left, the midfielder quickened his pace and skipped between Dempsey and Murphy before curling the ball towards the far corner.

This time, Schwarzer was well beaten and relieved to see it thud into the post and bounce away to safety. Henderson was involved again, moments later, linking up well to produce another glimpse of goal for Carroll but this time Hangeland’s challenge was enough to deny the 35million England striker.

Harsh Jay Spearing was sent off for this foul on Fulham

Harsh Jay Spearing was sent off for this foul on Fulham”s Mousa Dembele

Suarez took issue with what he thought was too much physical attention from Fulham’s central defenders, Hangeland and Senderos, in the first half.

He raised the issue with referee Friend, who seemed to respond by encouraging the striker to try harder to stay on his feet but the next time Suarez went to ground, Friend blew for a free-kick. Dembele, who made the challenge, kicked the ball away in a temper.

Suarez was jeered off at half-time and tension resurfaced when he burrowed into the Fulham penalty area once again, fell under an innocuous challenge from Hangeland and grabbed the ball.

Incensed: Kenny Dalglish felt Spearing was harshly treated by Kevin Friend

Incensed: Kenny Dalglish felt Spearing was harshly treated by Kevin Friend

On the advice of his linesman, the referee gave a free-kick to Fulham.

Ultimately, Spearing’s red card changed the game, giving Fulham a little extra hope and a little extra space in midfield at a time when they were bracing themselves for a late onslaught from the visitors.

Liverpool had dominated but Jol’s team had always been dangerous on the break and their slick approach helped contribute to a wonderful spectacle.

Controversy: Spearing is given his marching orders (above) as Liverpool

Controversy: Spearing is given his marching orders (above) as Liverpool”s players protest (below)

Liverpool players surround referee Kevin Friend after he sent off Jay Spearing

The initial tackle appeared to have been made just outside the line, but contact continued well inside the area.

Friend was well positioned and refused to award a penalty with Bellamy hitting the free-kick into the wall.

Carroll, Liverpool”s 35million signing from Newcastle, saw a shot head towards the corner flag and was taunted with chants of “what a waste of money”.

Suarez had his goal disallowed and Liverpool”s frustration boiled over in the 72nd minute when Spearing was sent off for his challenge on Dembele.

Crunch: Dempsey and Craig Bellamy came together as they challenged for the ball

Crunch: Dempsey and Craig Bellamy came together as they challenged for the ball

Reina made a good save after only six minutes to thwart Dembele, then another from Dempsey, who also hit the bar with a vicious strike before he scored the winner.

The victory, Fulham’s first at home in the Premier League since they thrashed Queens Park Rangers 6-0 two months ago, relieved the pressure on Jol and eased the team a couple of places away from the relegation zone.

An ankle injury to Murphy in stoppage time, however, marred the celebrations but Fulham’s disappointment will be as nothing compared to Liverpool’s.

Poor show: Andy Carroll (centre) had an off night in front of goal as the striker

Poor show: Andy Carroll (centre) had an off night in front of goal as the striker”s struggles continued

Kenny Dalglish brought the Reds to Craven Cottage after six away wins in succession. They won twice in the neighbourhood against Chelsea and three points last night would have launched them back into the top six, primed for a festive assault on the top spots.

It did not quite go to plan. Spearing’s red card gives the manager a midfield problem after the long-term knee injury suffered by Lucas Leiva, Carroll continues to look like a very expensive misfit and Suarez could be back in bother.