Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are not realistic despite a fifth straight win, says boss Jurgen Klopp.
The in-form Reds, who only have four matches left, moved four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United after Mohamed Salah’s penalty sunk Fulham at Anfield.
However, United have two games in hand on fifth-placed Liverpool – including one at eighth-placed Brighton on Thursday – kick-off 20:00 BST.
Only leaders Manchester City have taken more points from the last six matches than Liverpool, but Klopp played down his side’s chances of sneaking into the top four.
“No. I don’t feel it like that but it means nothing. It’s about probabilities,” said the Reds boss when asked whether finishing fourth was now realistic.
“If Newcastle and Manchester United win all their games, we have no chance. If Brighton win all their games, they are ahead of us. That’s the situation. We just have to win our games and see where it takes us.
“At the moment I’m happy with our direction. We just have to keep going and in the end we’ll look at the table and take what we can get.”
Salah scored for the eighth home game in a row as Liverpool maintained their flourishing late-season form.
The Egypt forward beat Bernd Leno from the penalty spot in the 39th-minute after Darwin Nunez was fouled by Issa Diop.
However, it required an outstanding one-handed save by Liverpool’s Brazil keeper Alisson in the 77th-minute to keep out countryman Carlos Vinicius.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz in sparkling form, Liverpool created a string of chances but were unable to add to their lead before Fulham threatened after half-time.
Despite defeat, the Cottagers remain on course for a first top-10 Premier League finish since 2011-12.
Salah’s remarkable scoring form continues
The last time Salah failed to score in a game at Anfield was way back on 21 January, while he now has 99 in all competition’s at Liverpool’s iconic home.
He is the first Liverpool player to score in eight consecutive home appearances since Luis Suarez did so between April 2013 and January 2014.
Having missed from the spot recently against Bournemouth and Arsenal, he has now scored penalties in back-to-back games to help maintain Liverpool’s winning momentum.
With just 12 points to play for, Liverpool might have left themselves too much to do in terms of sealing a top-four spot but Klopp’s side are certainly finishing the season strongly.
Alexander-Arnold has come in for criticism this season but he was at his outstanding best registering three attempts – including one on target – while Diaz earned a standing ovation for his work in a move which saw Salah fire over the bar in the second-half.
The thrills and spills of recent performances might have been missing on this occasion but the Reds produced a first clean sheet win since putting seven past Manchester United on 5 March.
The game was in the balance right until the end, with Bobby De Cordova-Reid going close to equalising in the 94th-minute, but in the end Liverpool were able to celebrate another win.
Fulham give Liverpool a scare
Fulham pushed the Reds all the way and would have taken something back to London but for two excellent saves by Alisson to keep out Vinicius.
Having thwarted the forward with a diving stop early in the game, Alisson bravely denied Vinicius inside the six-yard box as Fulham finished strongly.
Harry Wilson was also lively against his former club but Fulham have now lost eight of their past 10 matches in all competitions, winning the other two.
Despite that run, it has still been an impressive first season back in the Premier League for the Cottagers and they were the better team in the second-half at Anfield.
This, however, was their third straight defeat and manager Marco Silva, who described the decision to award the penalty “embarrassing”, will demand the season does not fizzle out.
Player of the match
Squad number8Player nameWilson
Squad number28Player nameLukic
Squad number11Player nameSolomon
Squad number21Player nameJames
Squad number20Player nameWillian
Squad number26Player nameJoão Palhinha
Squad number17Player nameLeno
Squad number30Player nameCarlos Vinícius
Squad number33Player nameRobinson
Squad number10Player nameCairney
Squad number6Player nameReed
Squad number14Player nameDe Cordova-Reid
Squad number7Player nameKebano
Squad number12Player nameCédric Soares
Squad number31Player nameDiop
Squad number4Player nameTosin
- 4van Dijk
- 21TsimikasSubstituted forRobertsonat 66′minutes
- 17JonesSubstituted forMilnerat 84′minutes
- 11SalahSubstituted forElliottat 84′minutes
- 27NúñezSubstituted forJotaat 83′minutes
- 23DíazSubstituted forGakpoat 66′minutes
- 12Cédric Soares
- 28LukicSubstituted forReedat 71′minutes
- 26João Palhinha
- 8WilsonSubstituted forKebanoat 71′minutes
- 10CairneySubstituted forDe Cordova-Reidat 71′minutes
- 20WillianSubstituted forJamesat 80′minutes
- 30Alves MoraisSubstituted forSolomonat 79′minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- Stuart Attwell
Match ends, Liverpool 1, Fulham 0.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 1, Fulham 0.
Attempt missed. Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Dan James with a cross.
Attempt missed. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Fabinho.
Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
João Palhinha (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
Attempt missed. Cody Gakpo (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Harvey Elliott following a fast break.
Offside, Liverpool. Harvey Elliott tries a through ball, but Cody Gakpo is caught offside.
Foul by Andrew Robertson (Liverpool).
Neeskens Kebano (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Harvey Elliott is caught offside.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Curtis Jones.
Substitution, Liverpool. Harvey Elliott replaces Mohamed Salah.
Substitution, Liverpool. Diogo Jota replaces Darwin Núñez.
Attempt missed. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Cody Gakpo.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Cédric Soares.
Substitution, Fulham. Dan James replaces Willian.
Substitution, Fulham. Manor Solomon replaces Carlos Vinícius.
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