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Fernando Torres soars above predictability

Liverpool (0) 2 Fulham (0) 0

Until Fernando Torres unzipped his winter substitutes' jacket with 20 minutes remaining, Liverpool's home record this season appeared destined to read P 6 W 1 D 5, with Fulham's organisation and discipline set to be rewarded with a deserved point.

One victory from six home games is not the form of potential champions. Two wins from six is hardly impressive either, but if Torres can avoid further injury setbacks Liverpool will know that they now finally have at least one individual in their attacking ranks who can devastate their opponents in the blink of an eye.

Fernando Torres soars above predictability
All the difference: Liverpool's match-winner celebrates his goal

Seventy minutes of a plodding Peter Crouch and infuriating Andrei Voronin gave ample evidence of where Liverpool have been going wrong this season. Without the pace and naked goalscoring instinct of Torres, Rafael Benitez's team are achingly predictable and a straightforward proposition for defences to deal with.

Torres possesses the X-factor, however. At £26.5 million, that is probably the least to be expected, but the way in which he took his goal nine minutes from time was something only he could produce.

Jose Reina's long clearance found Torres 40 yards from the Fulham goal and the Spanish forward chested the ball down and escaped Carlos Bocanegra in one movement before bearing down on the penalty area.

With only Aaron Hughes to beat, Torres twisted one way and then the next before fooling both Hughes and goalkeeper Antti Niemi with a clipped left-foot shot into the near corner of the net.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said: "That's just the type of player that Fernando is and that's what we signed him for, to change games and win football matches. It looked like it was going to be a stalemate until he came on. I saw the ovation he got when he took his subs' coat off. He's a big star for us, but he works hard for the team.

"These are the games and the wins that get you back in the title race, though. A lot of people talk about when the big teams compete head to head, but it's always been a case of beating teams like this.

Defeat was harsh on Fulham, whose game plan frustrated Liverpool at one end of the pitch and worried them at the other, with David Healy and Shefki Kuqi keeping Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher busy for long periods.

But Lawrie Sanchez's team could not hold on for a point and their winless streak away from Craven Cottage in the Premier League now stands at 23 games, a run stretching back to September 2006.

Sanchez is convinced that the miserable run will end soon.He said: "We've now come to Liverpool and gone until the last 10 minutes before we conceded the goal, so the days of us going to somewhere like Anfield and getting done like Derby did and Besiktas did, who suffered really heavy defeats, are gone."

Man of the match

Sami Hyypia (Liverpool) • Completed 92 per cent of his passes • Made six defensive clearances • Had two efforts on goal

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