Liverpool remain level at the top of the Premier League table after a 1-1 draw away to Fulham.
After both Spurs and Manchester City dropped points this weekend, the Reds knew a win at Craven Cottage would give them breathing space at the summit of the league.
But a fatigued performance saw them fortunate to escape London with a point. Mohamed Salah’s late penalty, which was harshly awarded after a Georginio Wijnaldum free-kick struck a hand in the Cottagers wall, spared the visitors blushes after Fulham took a merited lead through Bobby Reid’s goal first-half goal.
The hosts, who were defeated 2-0 away to Manchester City last time out, started the better and they went about testing the Reds’ defence immediately.
Ivan Cavaleiro and Ademola Lookman were using their pace to good effect as out balls for Scott Parker’s team and the Portuguese winger forced two strong saves from Alisson — who was returning from injury — in the Liverpool goal after a bright opening 15 minutes from the home team.
On and on the home team pushed and they thought they had a penalty when Cavaleiro — their brightest attacking spark — forced a challenge from Fabinho in the box. After consulting the pitchside monitor, though, referee Andre Marriner correctly awarded a corner instead of a spot-kick.
Liverpool’s reprieve was short-lived, though, and Fulham took a deserved lead in the 25th minute when Lookman found Cavaleiro in the box and the pacey forward smashed a shot past Alisson.
The Reds were limp in attack and their best opening of the first half came when Sadio Mane miscued a header from Curtis Jones’ cross and the visitors went into the break deservedly a goal in arrears after a slow and laborious performance.
Injuries have bedevilled Jurgen Klopp this season and he could have more to deal with as Joel Matip — the excellent, yet injury-prone centre half — was replaced by Takumi Minamino at the interval and Jordan Henderson reverted to centre half with the Japanse international move into midfield.
Liverpool — with Jones central to their attacking ambitions — were better in the second half and they had a good chance when Roberto Firmino manufactured an opening for Henderson, but the skipper shot straight at Alphonse Areola when he should have scored instead.
It felt like a game that the Reds would require luck to get a result in and they had their stroke of fortune ten minutes from time. Stepping up to take a free-kick, Wijnaldum smashed his effort into the wall and Marinner pointed to the spot after the ball struck the hand of a Fulham player.
Although he didn’t make the cleanest of contacts, Salah’s penalty was hard and through the middle and although Areola got a touch to it, the speed of the strike beat the Frenchman and gave Liverpool a leveller they scantly deserved.
Liverpool pushed forward for what would have been a thoroughly undeserved win and almost had it when Jones’ brilliant virtuoso run brought him to the edge of the area but his shot was tame at straight at Areola. Divock Origi, who replaced Salah, had another opportunity late on but he headed harmlessly at the keeper.
It was a point they hardly deserved, but it could be so important for the Reds come seasons end.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Minamino for Matip, Williams for Alexander Arnold, Origi for Salah.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Oxlade Chamberlain, Cain, Phillips.