Tom Cairney hails Fulham progress despite ‘frustrating’ Liverpool penalty decision

·3-min read
Tom Cairney hails Fulham progress despite ‘frustrating’ Liverpool penalty decision

Fulham would have been laughed out of London for predicting a higher Premier League finish than Chelsea, and yet the fanciful has become reality in just 10 months.

The Cottagers are on course to complete a remarkable top-flight return, with a top-half finish fully in sight and a stunning overhaul of crisis club Chelsea in the offing.

Club captain Tom Cairney hailed the “enormous” differences between Fulham’s latest Premier League quest and their previous top-tier failures.

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Not even a 1-0 loss at Liverpool on Wednesdat night, courtesy of a hotly-disputed penalty, could burst Fulham’s bubble.

“We’ve made massive, massive strides this season, which people didn’t expect us to, so we can take a lot of positives from that moving forward,” said Cairney.

“The differences this year from the last times in the Premier League are enormous. If we said we’d be above Chelsea after 34 games at the start of the season, people wouldn’t have believed us. We’re in the top half, and we deserve to be.”

Mo Salah’s first-half spot-kick secured Liverpool’s slender victory at Anfield last night, a win that Jurgen Klopp’s men had to battle hard to complete.

Issa Diop was ruled to have fouled Darwin Nunez for Salah’s penalty, but Fulham were left frustrated by a decision they felt went the wrong way.

With 45 points from 34 games and sitting pretty in 10th place, however, a season that was touted as a relegation dogfight has turned into an impressively solid top-flight platform.

Silva’s side will face Leicester, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Manchester United to close out the campaign, with time left to seal one of the most memorable first Premier League seasons back in the big time.

Close: Vinicius forced a good save from Alisson in a battling performance from Fulham (Getty Images)
Close: Vinicius forced a good save from Alisson in a battling performance from Fulham (Getty Images)

Fulham sit five points behind Brentford in ninth, but five ahead of Palace in 11th. The Craven Cottage men may not see any more movement in the table this term, but there will be precious few complaints in south-west London.

“Performance-wise, we’ve done really well all season,” said Cairney. “A newly-promoted team coming to Anfield and pushing to score at one-nil down in the 90th minute shows how far we’ve come.”

Fulham pushed Liverpool all the way, with Carlos Vinicius drawing two good saves from Alisson and Bobby De Cordova-Reid going close with the final act of the match.

“We played well at times, but to lose to a penalty that wasn’t a penalty is always a kick in the you-know-whats,” said Cairney. “At the time I wasn’t sure if it was a penalty. The ref made a decision, I thought he’d seen contact. I asked him on the pitch, ‘please just make sure they check it’. He said they checked it, but he said [in the] second half to one of our players that it wasn’t a penalty, so it’s frustrating.

“Issa Diop hasn’t touched him, Nunez has taken another step and then gone over, and you lose to something like that at Anfield, which is frustrating.”