Soccer-Liverpool beat Fulham 3-1 to climb level with Arsenal

Soccer Football - Premier League - Fulham v Liverpool - Craven Cottage, London, Britain - April 21, 2024 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk in action with Fulham's Alex Iwobi REUTERS/Isabel Infantes

LONDON (Reuters) -Liverpool climbed level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday, thanks to goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota.

Liverpool trail Arsenal on goal difference with both on 74 points with five games remaining, however holders Manchester City, who are third on 73 points, have a game in hand.

A week after Crystal Palace had dealt Liverpool's title hopes a crushing blow with a 1-0 defeat, Sunday's victory infused Juergen Klopp's men with renewed hope.

"This is the strongest league in the world, the most intense league in the world, and we are here in this fight with two sensational football teams," Klopp told Sky Sports. "If we didn't have character, we wouldn't be here. No chance."

Alexander-Arnold, in his first league start since Feb. 10, curled a stunning free kick into the top corner in the 32nd minute that keeper Bernd Leno had little chance of stopping.

It was the England international's sixth direct free-kick goal.

In a title fight with no room for error, Alexander-Arnold called the victory "huge".

"At this point of the season, you don't (always) get the results you want. It was a very important result for us. We need five big ones, five finals," he said.

Timothy Castagne, however, drew Fulham level when he fired home just before the break with a side-footed shot past keeper Alisson.

Gravenberch, a summer signing, put the Reds back on top in the 53rd minute, when Harvey Elliott pounced on a loose Fulham pass across the centre of the pitch. He rolled it to Gravenberch, who curled a shot inside the far post for his first league goal.

Jota sealed the win in the 72nd minute with his 100th English club career goal across all competitions with a low strike inside the far post after a pass from Cody Gakpo.

"For 80 minutes we played a really good game," Klopp told the BBC. "I didn't like the last 10 minutes of the first half and they got the goal. But that's alright because I loved the second half.

"We could show again what we did really well in the first half - we kept the ball, created, and scored some good goals. We had some good chances on top of that too. We made some changes and the boys did really well."

The match was three days after Liverpool were eliminated from the Europa League by Atalanta in the quarter-finals, and Klopp started with talisman Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Alexis Mac Allister on the bench until they came on as 74th-minute substitutes.

Liverpool play two more away games in the next six days, against Everton in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday and at West Ham United on Saturday.

With Manchester City not playing until Thursday when they visit Brighton, Liverpool could move four points ahead of their rivals albeit having played two games more.

"I get 'scoreboard pressure' but do you think Man City care? I don't care," Klopp said.

"We focus on ourselves. I say everything I think will help, I'm not sure this will help. It's a really tough game. We face Everton, which is not a normal game. It will be tricky but we will give it a go."

(Reporting by Lori EwingEditing by Toby Davis)

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