George Rossiter has the player ratings from the first leg of the League Cup Semi-Finals.
I got a real sense of déjà vu at Anfield. Sat centrally behind the goal, facing the famous Kop End, hearing Anfield roar as Liverpool turned a losing situation into victory in a matter of minutes. The feeling of heartbreak is ever so slightly less this time, though, with a second leg to turn things round at Craven Cottage in two weeks’ time.
In terms of shots on goal, Leno was left mostly unchallenged in the first half. It is worth noting, however, just how composed he remained for every Liverpool ball into the box, catching everything that came his way. He was sprung into action mostly after Liverpool had taken the lead, most noticeably with two incredible saves from Darwin Nunez, one acrobatic save from a header heading towards the top corner, and another from close range after a pinpoint cross from the young Bradley. 8/10.
Luiz Diaz looked particularly strong compared to the rest of the Liverpool front line in the first half and Castagne defended against him well. In the first 45 he made a number of brilliant last ditch interceptions in our box too. My biggest issue with his game was the lack of attacking input that hampered us on occasions.70% pass accuracy, no key passes and not a single cross into the box is not good enough for a full back in an offensive sense. 6.5/10.
Really poor performance I think, which is surprising on recent form. Looked really lapse on the ball from the off, misplacing multiple passes and getting caught in possession too often. It was like watching the Tosin of two years ago who always seemed to struggle on the ball. While he was unlucky to see Jones’ equaliser deflect off him, if he tried defending the ball instead of stepping off 10 yards…that probably doesn’t result in a goal. 4.5/10.
A less dramatic performance from Tosin’s centre back partner. Maybe you could argue he could have tracked Gakpo better for the winning goal and reacted quicker to Nunez’s cross, but that would quite a harsh assessment. Diop was solid on the ball, did well at defending his own box and especially strong at helping to defend set pieces. 6/10.
Defensively played really well, completely isolating Harvey Elliott out of the game in the 56 minutes the ex-Fulham academy graduate was on the pitch for. Going forward, Jedi offered a hell of a lot more of a threat than Castagne. But as the game on, he became annoyingly wasteful in possession. The number of long balls down the channel that were completely unrealistic for any of our attackers to chase down after Liverpool took the lead was particularly frustrating. 6/10.
The Portuguese man was the perfect shield any time any one of Liverpool’s midfield trio ventured forward throughout. His nine tackles were triple the amount of the next best Fulham player, his 10 clearances comfortably the best from anyone in a white shirt too. Even late into the game, Joao was one of the only players showing any attacking intent as Fulham remained a goal behind. 7.5/10.
A proper captain’s performance from the man wearing the armband on the night. Lots of trust was put into Harrison after a recent spell out of the side which has seen Tom Cairney deployed in a deeper midfield position. In the first half, he was the best of the 22 players on the pitch, winning every second ball in the middle of the park and driving Fulham forward at any given opportunity. To continue until deep into the second half on the back of a knock taken just before half time showed a real warrior’s attitude on a big occasion. 8/10 – Man of the match.
Really good first half showing as the most forward thinking of the midfield three. Looked really neat on the ball and played a number of lovely touches to set Fulham on the counter attack. Does really well to bring the ball down under pressure from Van Dijk and slide in Willian for our goal too. 7/10.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid
Didn’t see too much of the ball in the first half as Fulham looked to attack more down the right hand side, with Willian and Robinson frequently doubling up on Liverpool’s young full-back Bradley. Covered Castagne well for the most part too in a defensive sense. When Fulham focused on soaking up pressure in the second half and playing on the counter, Bobby was set free multiple times and his decision making left a little bit to be desired when Fulham had chances to find a second goal. 5.5/10.
His class showed in the composure he showed to score our goal, not rushing a shot the moment it came to him in the area and gliding past a defender before squeezing a shot past Kelleher. Saw a lot less of the ball in the second half as Silva seemed to target counter attacks down the opposite side of the pitch. 7/10.
A lot of Fulham’s best attacking play came out wide, so it was hard for Raul to play his way into the game at any stage really. At least in the first half he showed the intent to track back for the team and defend from the front. In the second, it felt as if he’d lost a bit of fight, jumping less for aerial duels and pressing less on Liverpool’s centre backs. 5.5/10.
Tom Cairney and Harry Wilson
Subbed on after 71 minutes for Andreas Pereira and Willian
Neither had the desired impact of getting their foot on the ball and pushing Fulham forward on the counter. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would have the way we were set up to play in the second half, which was frustratingly negative. 6/10 for both.
Sasa Lukic (subbed on after 82 minutes for Harrison Reed) came on too late to be fairly rated, but you do wonder what his role is in this squad going forward.