Tag Archives: skirmish

Graeme Swann winds up Australia Test man Ed Cowan

Swann strikes first blow in the phoney Ashes war by winding up Cowan

Peter Hayter


22:33 GMT, 27 April 2013



23:03 GMT, 27 April 2013

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Graeme Swann appears to have won the first skirmish in the pre-Ashes phoney war by duping Ed Cowan into believing the spinner and fellow Nottinghamshire team-mate Stuart Broad have been ordered by England not to bowl to the Aussie opener in the county's nets.

Cowan, named in the 16-man Ashes squad to face England, has begun a seven Championship-match stint for Notts, played alongside Broad against Derbyshire and will link up with Swann against Durham tomorrow when the off-spinner returns after the elbow surgery that forced him to miss England's Test series in New Zealand.

Having a laugh: Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann

Having a laugh: Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann

But Swann may have some talking to do first as Cowan seems to have fallen victim to his notorious sense of mischief.

The spinner has claimed he and Broad have been instructed by Test coach Andy Flower not to give the Aussie any chance of a sighter in the nets or in the middle, particularly as the first Ashes Test is at Nottinghamshire's Trent Bridge ground.

Discussing criticism of counties giving Aussie players the chance to acclimatise to English conditions and England bowlers using a Duke ball, Cowan said: 'I can certainly see that point, but I can also see the other side.

'The fact is that it's an Ashes year, so, sure, there is some benefit for me, but there is some benefit for Swann and Broad as they get a pretty intimate look at my batting.

'They're not allowed to bowl at me in the nets. It's a bit of a joke. We're getting on famously, but I'd have thought that knocking me over a few times in the nets might plant a few seeds…'

Asked whether he knew the source of this instruction, Cowan insisted it had come from the England management. But Notts coach Mick Newell denied any such order and revealed the whole thing was a Swann wind-up.

Cowan knows how humour can backfire, as he has still not spoken to Kevin Pietersen over the 'Puddinggate' row in the last Ashes tour Down Under.

Wound up: Ed Cowan

Wound up: Ed Cowan

In his critically acclaimed diary, In The Firing Line, Cowan recounted that South African-born Pietersen could not identify the bread-and-butter he ate during lunch in England's match against Australia A in Hobart on the last Ashes tour.

When Cowan told Pietersen he should recognise the dish as it was typically English, Pietersen responded by joking: 'I'm not f***ing English. I just work there.'

The joke turned sour when the comment was used to cast doubt on Pietersen's loyalty.

Despite trying to contact Pietersen to clear the air, Cowan has still not talked to him directly and he now admits he wishes he had not included the story in his book.

'The KP thing was said as a joke and it got blown out of proportion,' said the 30-year-old. 'I was disappointed and I'm sure he wasn't thrilled. I think it was a good line all the same.'

One thing about which Cowan is deadly serious, however, is what he calls the defining moment for him and his team, the upcoming Ashes series, which, after their 4-0 defeat in India, he claims will be the making or breaking of many careers.

Cowan was among those who expressed concerns over aspects of 'team culture' to coach Mickey Arthur before the issue came to a head with three players, including vice-captain Shane Watson, dropped for failing to do their homework. Cowan knows the consequences of failure.

'I wasn't some sort of tell-tale,' he said. 'There were about six people saying: “Right, is this where our culture should be heading”

'You lose a lot of intellectual ability when players like Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, and even someone like Justin Langer, the batting coach, leave in pretty quick succession. It's not just batting and bowling, it's culture.

'Some things are trivial, like lateness to meetings; some aren't so trivial, like general attitudes of not going out of your way to making sure that the team is your absolute priority.

'It showed a lot of courage. It was the day the coach and captain put their heads on the block. They said: “We are going to cop some flak, but we are all in this together.”

'It was saying – if we're going to win the Ashes, we need to be solid around all these core values.

'If we lose these back-to-back Ashes series, you will see a change of personnel and management.

'But the other side is that if you can win an away Ashes series, then it is a defining moment for this team.'

Martin Samuel: Ryder Cup 2012: It might get even harder, but it can"t get any better than this

It might get even harder, but it can't get any better than this



00:26 GMT, 1 October 2012

In the end, it came down to four losers. One imagines, at times like this, that in a room on some celestial plane somewhere, there is a scriptwriter convulsed with laughter.

The 39th Ryder Cup, three days of sweat and tears, if not blood, tied at 13-13, would be decided by a shoot-out between four players who had not won a single point between them all week.

Steve Stricker versus Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods versus Francesco Molinari. Spot the odd man out. Yet Woods in a match-play format is like a replicant.

It won't get better: Europe's Ryder Cup team snatched victory on the final day at Medinah

It won't get better: Europe's Ryder Cup team snatched victory on the final day at Medinah

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Martin Samuel: A minor skirmish at Anfield – but it mattered


Some said Davis Love sent him out as the guaranteed anchor man; others because, with the United States leading 10-6 going into the final day, what harm could he do in 12th position Plenty, as it transpired.

Woods, ticked off, led for one hole at the 13th and Molinari buckled slightly on the 17th, but the singular failure to master a player so completely in his shadow, put incredible pressure on those ahead. Stricker missed a vital putt on 17 to put Kaymer in the box seat.

His putt on the 18th was pitiful; a 24-handicapper would have been disappointed with the read. Kaymer, a former world No 1 and PGA champion, claimed the Ryder Cup for Europe.

Poor Stricker. The captain's pick, he ended the competition without a point, having formed a consistently losing partnership with Woods.

Then again, had Woods been safely back in the hutch, where he should have been, Stricker would not have been landed with such a burden.

Has 2012 been the best year for sport in Great Britain After this, there can surely be no doubt. The Olympics and Paralympics, the title decided with the last kick of the domestic football season, Chelsea the Champions of Europe, Bradley Wiggins the first Briton to win the Tour de France, Andy Murray the first tennis Grand Slam winner in 76 years.

And now this: Europe's Brookline, but without the boorish conclusion. How did they do it

Stand-out: Ian Poulter was in exceptional form all week

Stand-out: Ian Poulter was in exceptional form all week

Stand-out: Ian Poulter was in exceptional form all week

Stand-out: Ian Poulter was in exceptional form all week


Read Derek Lawrenson's report from the final day at Medinah here

How did they beat an American team that had at last seemed to have mastered the concept of Ryder Cup unity Make no mistake: this is America's harshest defeat.

Worse than the annihilation at Oakland Hills; worse than any of the modern era Ryder Cups decided in Europe's favour. They thought they had it won.

We all did. They thought they were a good team. So did we. The reversal of fortune was quite stunning.

Just before 11am central time, Bubba Watson came bounding over the elevated walkway to the first tee. Not walking, as golfers commonly do. Bouncing.

There was no measure in his stride, no restraint, no casual saunter. He came down the stairs like a rock star, or one of those American quiz show contestants, plucked out of the audience and going obligingly crazy on their way down to the stage to meet the Price Is Right host.

As Watson leapt on to the tee, the noise level went up another decibel.

Planes may have been travelling over en route to Chicago O'Hare, train whistles might have sounded from the Metra Milwaukee District West Line.

Wake up Rory! Rory McIlroy (right) almost missed his tee slot, but still managed to beat Keegan Bradley (left)

Wake up Rory! Rory McIlroy (right) almost missed his tee slot, but still managed to beat Keegan Bradley (left)

Impressive: Bradley put in a brilliant shift at Medinah

Impressive: Bradley put in a brilliant shift at Medinah

Medinah is not a quiet course. Yet nobody would have heard a cannon roar above the sheer wall of raucous nationalism. Watson milked every last drop of emotion from it.

He shook hands, he handed over his cap to a boy in the front row. He posed for the official photograph and puffed his chest out.

This was going to be America's time. 'Remember, everything they invented, we perfected,' Tom Watson told his team when captaining the United States at The Belfry in 1993.

He was talking about the game of golf. America believed they was about to update that message here in Illinois.

The Americans had seen what it took to win a Ryder Cup, and sought to refine it.

After two days they had all but overwhelmed what many believed to be Europe's strongest team.

It took one of the greatest rearguard actions in the history of sport to tame them, and to send this tournament to a quite astonishing conclusion.

The Europeans wore Seve blue. He would have loved this, the stuff of life itself. In an uncommon reverse, America, having won the pairs events, lost the singles badly, 8 to 3.

It was a Herculean effort from Europe to unpick so much damage from the pairs events on Friday and Saturday. America looked to be a team on fire. Europe has the best golfers, but America played better in tandem this week.

How strange is that Indeed, early in the day, it seemed Europe were close to falling apart.

Rory McIlroy got his central and eastern time zones mixed up and almost missed his slot on the tee to great hilarity from the Chicago crowd.

He took it all in good part – he even won his match, bless him – yet it raised the question: how was he left to travel to the match alone

Come here you! Jose Maria Olazabal (right) embraced Luke Donald after he blitzed Bubba Watson in the singles

Come here you! Jose Maria Olazabal (right) embraced Luke Donald after he blitzed Bubba Watson in the singles

Not today: Phil Mickelson lost his match to Justin Rose on day three

Not today: Tiger Woods conceded the final hole to half his match with Francesco Molinari

Not today: Tiger Woods (right) and Phil Mickelson (left) both failed to win their singles matches

Where was the logistical back-up, the gofers, the assistance

No sporting event takes place with as many sundry members of humanity as the average Ryder Cup game. Where were they all Didn't anyone think it strange that there was no sign of the world No 1, 30 minutes before he was due on parade

'Wakey-wakey, Rory,' the locals taunted. Unfortunately for Keegan Bradley, he did just that. And so did Europe's big beasts.

Webb Simpson, an impressive presence in the first two days, lost to Ian Poulter, the stand-out performer on this European team.

Luke Donald trounced Watson. In the most surprising win of the day, Paul Lawrie beat America's form golfer Brandt Snedeker 5&3.

Suddenly, mission impossible was on. Yet spare a thought for the Americans. Nobody can claim they lost because they did not care this time.

There is a new generation of American golfers that have shown the old timers the way this week.

They were not raised on childhood memories of American domination, or the idea that Sam Ryder's trophy was no big whoop.

Nerves of steel: Martin Kaymer held firm and putted on the 18th to ensure Europe retained the Ryder Cup

Nerves of steel: Martin Kaymer held firm and putted on the 18th to ensure Europe retained the Ryder Cup

They grew up on the good old US of A getting a hiding; and they did not like it. They haven't always won, those boys like Watson, Bradley and Jason Dufner, but they came here with the game face that said 'not on my watch' and it has dragged others along.

Even in defeat, America have embraced the team ethic, Woods' petulance on the last day aside.

Get a few old soldiers in or wear a big hat: that used to be the limit of American team sophistication.

So it needed a quite stunning display of singles matchplay from Europe to produce this win, plus a last chance saloon tactic from Jose Maria Olazabal that royally paid off.

Trailing 10-6 he had no option but to frontload the team and hope for an early hit. Yet the drama was created by America's young generation taking on the old continent at its own game.

In doing so, they demanded new levels of energy and excellence from some of the greatest golfers and inspired them to new heights.

It was quite breathtaking to watch, impossible to predict almost to the last. Europe beware, though, from here as American resolve stiffens, it may get even harder. It is hard to imagine, though, that it will get better.

Time for champagne: Sergio Garcia (left) and Graeme McDowell celebrate with a drop of Moet

Time for champagne: Sergio Garcia (left) and Graeme McDowell celebrate with a drop of Moet

Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2: A minor skirmish but it mattered – Martin Samuel

A minor skirmish – but it mattered: Liverpool and United's animosity resurfaces



08:19 GMT, 24 September 2012

It was a day of numbers: 96, 19, 12, zero and ultimately the 11 versus 10 that decided the outcome of the football match.

Anfield remembered, the visitors crowed. The ceremonies to mark the final emergence of the truth about the Hillsborough tragedy and its toll of 96 dead were impeccably observed, but once hostilities commenced it felt foolish to have ever imagined this would be anything more than the most famously bitter rivalry in English football. A watershed moment of realisation, a change of mood, of direction

Much hope was placed on this encounter and when Sir Bobby Charlton presented red roses to Ian Rush — they were later placed with the other sacred debris on the shrine to victims of official incompetence and the extremes of fate — and Luis Suarez warmly clasped the hands of Patrice Evra pre-match, it was possible to imagine, for a moment, that this was the start of a new era.

Respect: Bobby Charlton (left) hands a bouquet of 96 roses to Liverpool's Ian Rush

Respect: Bobby Charlton (left) hands a bouquet of 96 roses to Liverpool's Ian Rush

And then the game began. It was not especially poisonous and the reaction to it nothing exceptional: but it wasn’t a dawn of enlightenment, either.

The 19 titles won by Manchester United, overtaking Liverpool’s 18 (Ryan Giggs has won 12 to Steven Gerrard’s nil to put the modern era in sharp relief), has increased the intensity of this match like at no time in history.

We might as well organise a charity fund-raiser for Rangers at Parkhead as hope the animosity between Liverpool and Manchester United could be driven underground for long.

There was nothing too outrageous here — the worst excesses amounted to little more than 10 idiots being antagonised by 10 mugs — but nor were too many bridges left standing by the end.

Liverpool supporters did not mention Munich but United’s did, taunting them in hope of drawing an outrageous response. When the ground had emptied they mockingly chorused ‘Always the victims, it’s never your fault’, the song that had caused such embarrassment and anger at Old Trafford last week.

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout

Well behaved: The fans of both sides were largely respectful throughout


How can Liverpool recover from their poor start
Since the start of 2012 Liverpool have won only two of 12 home games. Are they unlucky or is there a more fundamental problem

Steven Gerrard


They did so in response to another outburst of indignation fromLiverpool, a skirmish bearing scant comparison to the battle for the truth about Hillsborough, although it must be said that in both cases much of the protest was justified.

The home team thought Manchester United could have had a man sent off (which they could), they thought they should have had a penalty (which they should) and that United’s penalty winner was a harsh call (which it wasn’t). So, two out of three: and those numbers changed the game.

Even with 10 men, though, Liverpool were the better team, and had their ranks stayed even would probably not have been so stretched for United’s winner. It came from a penalty converted by Robin van Persie, but the damage was done on the break when Liverpool’s numerical disadvantage left them exposed to the counter attack.

It seems crass to speak of injustice when the last 23 years at the club has been spent fighting a system considerably more sinister than a referee’s call, but in strictly sporting terms Liverpool were hard done by here.

In the 39th minute, Jonjo Shelvey and Jonny Evans were competing for a 50-50 ball. Neither went in entirely fairly. Shelvey was late, high and second in the race, Evans was first but two-footed and out of control. Both were reckless. Evans came out worst.

Early bath: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for Liverpool as they lost to Manchester United

Early bath: Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for Liverpool as they lost to Manchester United

Too late: Glen Johnson (right) tackles Antonio Valencia to concede a penalty

Too late: Glen Johnson (right) tackles Antonio Valencia to concede a penalty

Referee Mark Halsey produced a red card and dismissed Shelvey, who went cursing Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson. Evans stayed on after treatment, unpunished. It wasn’t right. Either both players should have gone, or Halsey should have traded yellows; either he misjudged what he saw, or he reacted purely to Evans’s injury.

The result was that Liverpool played the remaining 58 minutes of the game, including added time, a man down. Unsurprisingly, against United, they lost.

The result leaves them in a poor state but a Liverpool win, not even a draw, would have been the fairest result. ‘The best team lost,’ said manager Brendan Rodgers, and he was right.

If there was poetic justice, the winning goal would have been scored by Liverpool captain Gerrard after 46 minutes. The pure abandon of his celebration suggested his young cousin Jon-Paul, who did not return alive from Hillsborough, was on his mind. And yes, it may seem perverse to equate winning a football match with a duty performed in the memory of the dead, yet what else is there for Gerrard to do These people were fans, in the days when it wasn’t easy to follow a team around the country.

Obtaining tickets, particularly those for FA Cup semi-finals, meant physically going to a ticket office and standing in line, not clicking a button on a computer, credit card at the ready. The dead were some of those who were first to the ground. They loved football. They loved Liverpool.

Looking to the heavens: Steven Gerrard (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal for Liverpool

Looking to the heavens: Steven Gerrard (right) celebrates scoring the opening goal for Liverpool

Gerrard isn’t a lawyer, or a prosecutor. The best he can do is score a goal that wins a match that would have made the fans happy. So that is what he did. And then his fine deed was overtaken.

Rafael equalised, a cracker, but then Glen Johnson brought down Antonio Valencia with a rashly attempted challenge from the wrong side. The nudge unsettled the Manchester United man who lost his footing — as many did on a pitch that may have been overwatered — and Halsey pointed to the spot.

Underlining the sense of outrage, a very slow and detailed replay showed that Suarez had been fouled by Evans in the penalty area previously. A theatrical jerk of the head by the Uruguayan as he fell had probably convinced Halsey of simulation. Had Suarez simply fallen with natural momentum, the referee probably would have pointed to the spot.

So justice was not served. Yet, at this of all times, it is important to keep such matters in perspective.

There is the loss of a football match and the loss of life. At Anfield, they are only too aware of that painful difference, and will surely remember it when looking at the league table on Monday morning.

The management cannot rely on this raw perspective to stave off the tough questions forever, though. The football matters around these parts, too. Just as it mattered to the 96.

David Lloyd: Broad"s scrambled legs worth shelling out for

Broad's scrambled legs worth shelling out for

That scrambled single during Stuart Broad's excellent counter-attack was a coach's dream.

When Duncan Fletcher was coach he would pull to one side any player run out and ask them: 'Where was your dive'

Broad used every inch of his 6ft 7in
frame to make his ground by millimetres and had the awareness to jump up
and scamper another single. Excellent cricket.

Scroll down for more

Scramble: Broad dives to avoid being run out

Scramble: Broad dives to avoid being run out


There was much debate during the first Test and before the second about the legitimacy of Saeed Ajmal's bowling action.

Well, I have made a few enquiries and I understand that the umpires in this series have no problems with it at all.

And that means that nothing will be done by the International Cricket Council either.


Looked like divorce was on the cards
for England couple Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann when they had a
marital skirmish in the afternoon.

Grumpy old Jimmy told his mate in no
uncertain terms that he wanted him closer at second slip, reminding me
of the forthright exchanges they have in Dickie Pinks, a salubrious
hostelry in Jimmy's home town of Burnley.

Spat: James Anderson in a marital dispute

Spat: James Anderson in a marital dispute


England had to battle to gain a good
first-innings lead – with perfect, positive batting from the lower
order, which took the attack to Pakistan.

Broad used his height to get a big stride in and dispersed the field with a couple of big shots.

He forced the fielders to where he wanted them – not where Misbahul-Haq wanted them.

More from David Lloyd…

Bumble in the desert: Trott not a gallop but no matter in these conditions

Bumble in the desert: No public transport, but at least we have a crowd

Bumble in the desert: There's been plenty of time for tee out in the UAE

Bumble in the desert: Saved by a snick as Strauss and Co mull over technology doubts

Bumble in the desert: Bit of a relief that it's a snog-free zone

Bumble at the Test: Ajmal's new delivery It's just like watching Gilo!

Cowpats, concrete and the M62: Bumble's guide to weird and wonderful cricket grounds

Bumble at the Test: The beer's not cheap out here but the DJ put me in a spin



Wonderful to see Monty Panesar, the housewives' favourite, back in business and the question now is, how does he get in the England team regularly

The answer comes when Tim Bresnan is fit again.

Move Matt Prior to six, bring in Bresnan at seven and leave out Eoin Morgan to make room for Monty in a five-man attack. Simples…


A surreal Test series, this. Not only are we playing in the middle of the desert but we also have two female German press officers looking after us.

One of them bears a striking resemblance to Helga from TV's 'Allo 'Allo and seems more interested in finding the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies.

No sign of Herr Flick yet, mind.


Talking of Germans, Martin Kaymer has let me down over the road at the golf club. He's missed the cut!

Still, my dirhams are riding on a Spaniard, an Irishman and a Scotsman now – so come on Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and Paul Lawrie.

Might even be able to pop over and cheer them on this Sunday if England do the business on Saturday.

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


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.