Match ends, Liverpool 2, Fulham 1.
Liverpool staged a second-half turnaround to beat Fulham at Anfield in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie.
The visitors had taken the lead in the first half when Willian showed great control inside the area to slot in.
It was no less than Fulham deserved after an impressive first half, but Liverpool stepped it up after the break and fought back with two goals in three minutes.
First, Curtis Jones equalised when his 68th-minute strike from distance took a big deflection off Tosin Adarabioyo to wrong-foot Bernd Leno in the Fulham goal.
Substitute Cody Gakpo then drove in a Darwin Nunez pull-back to send the home crowd wild.
It was the second time in just over a month that Liverpool had denied Fulham success at Anfield. Marco Silva’s side had led 3-2 in the final 10 minutes of their Premier League clash on 3 December but lost 4-3.
The two sides will meet again in the second leg at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, 24 January, with Jurgen Klopp’s men now in the driving seat as they look to keep alive their hopes of a record-extending 10th League Cup win.
But the Reds boss warned: “It’s not over yet.
“I didn’t expect a result where we could book the hotel. Hopefully we will be better from the start. We couldn’t do more than win the game -I’m absolutely happy.”
This had the potential to be a tricky game for Premier League leaders Liverpool, who went into the game with a number of key players missing.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was excellent in their FA Cup third-round win against Arsenal at the weekend, is facing a few weeks out with injury, while Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo are away on international duty.
Fulham gave Liverpool a scare at Anfield last month and having come so close to a result on that occasion, they looked determined to cause an upset this time.
They were good value for their 1-0 lead at half-time with the hosts lacklustre and a little disjointed.
But Klopp’s side were a different prospect after the break as they pressed much higher up the pitch and when Gakpo and Nunez were introduced midway through the second period, Fulham’s defence was unable to cope.
In the end, Liverpool could have won by a bigger margin with the impressive Nunez once again unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet.
“I don’t know how to explain the Darwin situation,” added Klopp. “He can’t be more unlucky in finishing situations. He does everything right and still sets up the goals.
“To bring Darwin and Cody from the bench is a proper change.”
A big positive for Klopp was the performance of Northern Ireland international Conor Bradley. The 20-year-old started at right-back in Alexander-Arnold’s absence and impressed throughout.
It is now 16 games unbeaten at Anfield for the Reds – 14 of those victories – as they once again found the will and a way to extend their dominant record on home soil.
Fulham, meanwhile, will take heart from their first-half display as they look to keep alive their hopes of a first League Cup win.
“We knew it was going to be a tough one,” said boss Marco Silva. “You can’t play for a final thinking it’s not going to be really hard. Even three days ago they were able to play Arsenal away from home in the FA Cup.
“We did really well in the first half, more of a low block than we usually play but we controlled it well. They are a threat with the pace and quality of their attacking players and they can punish you at any time. We were ruthless in the first half, but second half they pushed up a bit more.”
Match ends, Liverpool 2, Fulham 1.