• Steven Gerrard's stoppage-time penalty seals victory
• Manager describes team captain as a 'peerless' player
Brendan Rodgers warned the trio of clubs at the top of the Premier League that Liverpool are mounting a challenge for the title after his side moved to within four points of the leaders with a stoppage-time victory against Fulham on Wednesday night.
While Arsenal were dropping points and missed the chance to go back to the top after their goalless draw at the Emirates against Manchester United and Manchester City's match with Sunderland fell victim to the high winds buffeting the north-west, Liverpool, initially unsettled by the home side's energetic and industrious approach, twice equalised and rallied at the end to fuel hopes of securing a first league championship since 1990.
Steven Gerrard, later described as "peerless" by his manager, thumped a late penalty past Fulham's substitute goalkeeper David Stockdale to bolster Liverpool's title aspirations, with both City and Chelsea still to visit Anfield. José Mourinho's side stay top, just seven points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who chalked up a 4-0 win at Newcastle.
"We're going to keep pushing," said Rodgers. "We've shown enough times we're a very good side. We're chasing and there are other teams still ahead of us, so we'll need some of them to drop points, but we know we still have City and Chelsea to play at home.
"This was a very important win for us, coming after the game at the weekend when we'd been outstanding [in beating Arsenal 5-1]. We had to show different qualities tonight: character, togetherness as a group, as we kept pushing to the end.
"We've defended poorly at times this season, mistakes and individual errors that have cost us, but we're a very aggressive and offensive team going forward and we showed that again. There's still a long way to go, 12 games, but you've seen the development of the team in terms of character and focus out there. We had to dig deep. There's great character there and the belief in what we're doing is very high."
Rodgers, albeit reluctantly, reflected on Mourinho's metaphor about Chelsea being "little horses" in the title race alongside more heavyweight contenders in City and Arsenal. "I don't do all that horse stuff, José is very good at all that sort of thing," said Rodgers. "May be we're the chihuahuas that run in between the horses' legs. I don't know. But I do know we're just about improving with each match. I'm certain, in the first four or five months I was here, we'd have lost this game. But we've built spirit and camaraderie that saw us fight to the very end."
Gerrard's penalty, awarded after Sascha Riether fouled Daniel Sturridge, secured the win with the Liverpool captain having earlier produced a wondrous pass to set up the forward for the first equaliser. "Steven is peerless in many aspects of football," added Rodgers. "He was brilliant against Arsenal, dictating the game, and his pass for the first goal here was the penetration he has shown all his life. Then there was his composure at the end. He's studied the goalkeeper, which way he dives, so that professionalism is there. There's no better person to take a penalty right at the end to win you the game."