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Oct 31, 2009

Premier League: Liverpool crash at Fulham

Liverpool's hopes of a revived push at the Premier League title collapsed in spectacular fashion at Craven Cottage where a 3-1 Fulham win made it five league defeats from just eleven games played.

• Premier League Gallery
• Kevin Palmer at Arsenal

Bobby Zamora opened the scoring for Fulham before a piece of Fernando Torres brilliance saw him equalise from 25 yards. Then Erik Nevland scored impudently to put Fulham ahead before Liverpool simply committed suicide with a double sending-off.

Phillip Degen, granted a rare start, was given a straight red for an assault on Clint Dempsey before captain Jamie Carragher was dismissed for a professional foul on Zamora. He protested long and hard but Liverpool were done, with Fernando Torres already subbed for Ryan Babel and teenager Nathan Ecclestone replacing Yossi Benayoun. Dempsey gained his own slice of revenge with a late strike as Liverpool boss Benitez left the field a haunted man.

Similarly shellshocked and perhaps even more uncertain of his future is Hull City manager Phil Brown, who is expected to be sacked on Monday after a 2-0 defeat at Burnley. Two goals from Graham Alexander and a disallowed Geovanni strike and subsequent red card turned Brown's famed tan a whiter shade of pale as chairman-in-waiting Adam Pearson looked on from the Turf Moor stands. His axe was not pictured but it will surely be wielded.

Hull's day was made worse at Fratton Park where Portsmouth's hopes of a first home win of the season were finally realised when Jekyll-and-Hyde team Wigan Athletic proved casual visitors. A 4-0 scoreline was more than deserved for Pompey and Aruna Dindane put behind him the foibles he had previously shown in front of goal with a trio of strikes. Frederic Piquionne's goal was straddled by his Ivory Coast colleague's hat-trick as Pompey's strikers finally got on the board this season in some style.

Leaders Chelsea made sure they could not be overtaken at the top of the division with a 4-0 win at Bolton Wanderers. A run of two consecutive away defeats was ended in style by Carlo Ancelotti's men. Frank Lampard scored from a penalty for which the award had led to the sending off of Jloyd Samuel just before half-time. Deco scored a breakaway goal from a Bolton corner to make it two and then Zat Knight scored an own-goal with the match already won. Didier Drogba completed the scoring very late on.

Goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney saw Manchester United overcome Blackburn 2-0 at Old Trafford to keep up the pressure on Chelsea. Berbatov made the breakthrough in the 55th minute and Rooney sewed the match up two minutes from time. United should have extended the scoreline but substitute Gabriel Obertan missed two sitters on his league debut.

Any talk of Tottenham Hotspur closing the gap on neighbours Arsenal has evaporated after their 3-0 defeat at the Emirates. Spurs captain Ledley King had a disastrous afternoon as Robin Van Persie, twice, and Cesc Fabregas profited from some shocking defending after Tottenham had comfortably negotiated their way through the first 40 minutes.

Another game of sendings-off was West Ham United's visit to Sunderland where the home team suffered the loss of Kenwyne Jones just prior to half-time and down to the Hammers. Goals from Guillermo Franco and Carlton Cole had Hammers fans believing they could get a win. Andy Reid converted a free-kick just before Jones was dismissed but the second 45 was a different story and Sunderland deserved the equaliser they grabbed through Kieran Richardson.

Another dismissal at Goodison Park where Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov suffered an afternoon of mixed fortunes. After putting Everton ahead against Aston Villa, he was sent off four minutes from time, to be followed down the tunnel in the last minute by Villa's Carlos Cuellar. Substitute John Carew had levelled for Villa a minute after coming on immediately after half-time.

Stoke City's Britannia Stadium fortress looks rather less a stronghold after their 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, especially considering their blowing of a 2-0 lead. An own-goal scored by George Elokobi with James Beattie lurking and a Matthew Etherington strike no doubt caused a testy half-time teamtalk by Wolves boss Mick McCarthy. It clearly worked and an unlikely brace from defender Jody Craddock secured them a deserved point.

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