Fulham Shock Liverpool in Halloween Horror Show To Retain UWCC Title

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IOctober 31, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31:  Bobby Zamora of Fulham celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage on October 31, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ) witnessed another defence today as champions Fulham took on former champions Liverpool at Craven Cottage.

Fulham came into this match unbeaten in their past five games, with impressive draws against both Roma and Manchester City making up their second UWCC title reign so far.

Liverpool, on the other hand, were in unpredictable form to say the least. A loss midweek in the Carling Cup to Arsenal may not have been too surprising, considering the players who took the field, and a win against Manchester United last week was encouraging, but there was no arguing that Rafa Benitez's men were underachieving.

Still, they were firm favourites heading into this one, and could've reclaimed a top four spot had they gathered the three points.

But Fulham had other ideas, and produced another shock result, running out 3-1 victors over the nine men of Liverpool.

Despite Liverpool's obvious injury woes, they had the better of the opening exchanges, dominating possession without creating any telling chances.

They came within a few inches of taking the lead just after the 20-minute mark, however, when Yossi Benayoun found space at the far post, but his effort bounced back off the Fulham crossbar.

The home team took full advantage of this let off with their first meaningful attack just moments after.

Bobby Zamora stole a yard from both his markers to get on the end of a Damien Duff cross and give Fulham an undeserved lead.

The goal didn't really change the manner of the match, however, as Liverpool continued to control the possession. Despite this, Mark Schwarzer had a relatively quiet day, with only a few moments seriously troubling him.

One such moment came just before half-time. Phillip Degen, making a rare league start, crossed the ball into Andriy Voronin, another unfamiliar face in the league, whose header rebounded off Aaron Hughes and fell to Fernando Torres, who lashed the ball in first time with a volley from the edge of the box.

The second half began without any major incidents, but it certainly didn't stay that way.

The first talking point came when Benitez, already under enormous pressure, took off Torres, despite the score being 1-1 and having no-one of similar quality to replace him.

Another talking point followed soon after as Jamie Carragher and Bobby Zamora tussled for the ball in the penalty area. Zamora wanted a penalty, but the referee waved it away.

Zamora's anger turned into delight within minutes, however, as Fulham took the lead through Erik Nevland.

Paul Konchesky broke down the left following Dirk Kuyt's attempt to keep the ball in play, and his cross found Zoltan Gera, who nodded the ball down to Nevland to slot it past Reina.

A bad day turned into a terrible one for Liverpool then as first Phillip Degen, then Jamie Carragher saw red to reduce Liverpool to nine men.

Degen's late tackle on Clint Dempsey earned him a straight red, while Carragher was given the same punishment just moments after for a professional foul on Zamora.

Both can feel hard done by, especially Carragher who appeared to get the ball.

The numerical advantage proved vital as Liverpool couldn't lay siege to the Fulham goal as they otherwise might have, and Benitez had to replace a player who may have posed a threat in Dirk Kuyt, with a defender.

His substitution decisions may cause him some grief in the coming week as, along with taking Torres and Kuyt off, he also replaced the in-form Yossi Benayoun with league debutant Nathan Ecclestone at 2-1.

Liverpool's misery was compounded three minutes from time as Nevland found an unmarked Dempsey who calmly put the ball past Reina. The Halloween horror show was complete.

Still, at least we're not drawing anymore...

Dempsey's goal was his fifth in UWCC title matches, becoming the ninth player to reach that milestone.

Degen and Carragher's red cards were the 10th and 11th red cards in UWCC history, and Liverpool become only the second club to have had two players sent off, the first being Manchester City.

For the third week in a row, the majority of voters in the poll predicted that Fulham would lose their UWCC crown and for the third week in a row they were wrong! Well done to the 37.5 percent of people who got it right!

Fulham's run

Fulham 2-0 Hull (Fulham become new champions)

Fulham 1-1 Roma

Manchester City 2-2 Fulham

Fulham 3-1 Liverpool

( Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)

Fulham's next title defence comes on Thursday as they face the intimidating journey to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Roma in the Europa League. Surely they can't upset the odds again...can they?


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