Liverpool clung on for a scrappy victory against Fulham as they moved up to seventh in the Premier League.

The Reds went ahead on 52 minutes when a Fernando Torres strike was deflected against the post and John Pantsil sliced a clearance into his own net.

Fulham belatedly came out of their shell and had a Brede Hangeland header cleared off the goal-line.

And a point-blank save late on by Reds keeper Pepe Reina from Moussa Dembele helped secure victory for Liverpool.

The home side may have had to endure a nervous finish as Fulham produced their late rally but the Reds maintain the impetus, although maybe not the improvement in play, that manager Kenny Dalglish has engineered since taking over.

It was the Scot’s second win in five games and will have Reds fans looking up the Premier League table towards the European spots rather than over their shoulders at the relegation zone.

Fulham, who had looked comfortable for the most part, do not have that luxury as they lie four points from the bottom three after a game in which both teams struggled to find their passing game or rhythm.

Dalglish masterminded a 10-0 win over Fulham in 1986 in his first spell in charge as Liverpool manager and he almost got the perfect start as he renewed rivalries with the London club.

Raul Meireles slid a weighted ball through for Torres to control and slot past Cottagers’ keeper David Stockdale, only for the assistant referee to rule the goal offside in a questionable decision.

Stockdale might have been beaten on that occasion but the 25-year-old, who had not been on the losing side in his previous eight first-team outings for Fulham this season, excelled as he played a big part in keeping his side level at Anfield.

far from our best performance but still ground out the result
The threatening Reds right-back Martin Kelly drove in a cross and a steered header from Meireles seemed destined for the bottom corner before the Fulham stopper palmed the ball wide at full stretch.

Stockdale also saved a 20-yard Steven Gerrard strike before he excellently tipped a well-struck Glen Johnson effort, after the defender had cut in from the left, over the bar.

The visitors had grown into their task of nullifying Liverpool and almost benefited when two chances came their way in quick succession.

Fulham forward Clint Dempsey intercepted a Kelly pass and had a left-foot drive parried by Reina before the ball was cleared.

Almost immediately, former Everton forward Andrew Johnson pulled a ball back from the by-line for the unmarked Dembele, who could only shoot straight at Reina from close range as a glorious chance went begging.

The defences appeared to have the upper hand as both teams lacked urgency, but the home side eventually broke the deadlock in scrappy style.

A Torres shot was deflected on to the post by centre-back Hangeland and, in the ensuing melee, Pantsil sliced an attempted clearance into his own net.

Dempsey had a volley from a Pantsil cross saved by Reina and ex-Reds midfielder Danny Murphy sent a free-kick wide for the visitors but Fulham struggled to break down the Liverpool defence.

The visitors threw centre-back Hangeland forward and the move almost paid off when he met a corner with a firm header which beat Reina, only to be cleared off the goal-line by Meireles.

The Cottagers again went close when Dempsey nodded down a Murphy free-kick for Dembele, whose snapshot was again saved by Reina as the Reds dug in to secure victory and extend Fulham’s run to 30 games without a win at Anfield.