Football - Downing helps to down Cottagers

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing had a rare day to remember at Anfield as his first Barclays Premier League goal for the club wrapped up a comfortable 4-0 victory over Fulham.

PA Sport

Only last week the England international had admitted he may leave next month after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.

If that was the incentive to put himself in the shop window it worked as he registered his first league assist in setting up Steven Gerrard - after Martin Skrtel's opener - and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.

Gerrard's eighth-minute corner picked out Skrtel, who had barely moved, and with former Reds full-back John Arne Riise slow to close down the Slovakia international he brought the ball down and smashed a volley past Schwarzer.

Downing's first significant intervention came in the 36th minute.

The England international's brilliantly-disguised reverse pass from the edge of the penalty area deceived everyone except Gerrard.

Liverpool's captain seized on the flatfootedness of Fulham's defenders to clip a shot across Schwarzer and just inside the far post.

Within six minutes of the second half the result was put beyond any doubt. Gerrard picked out Downing on the right wing and he cut inside before blasting home.

Schwarzer did well to block Gerrard's close-range shot a Liverpool continued to press, Pepe Reina did less well with Dimitar Berbatov's long-range effort which squirmed from his grasp and required Skrtel to clear.

But that was a rare moment of concern on what was a trouble-free evening as Liverpool recorded only their fourth home league win of the season when Suarez side-footed home in added time for his 11th league goal of the season - equalling his tally from the whole of last season.

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