MARTIN Jol may not have been in charge last season when Luis Suarez led Fulham's shell-shocked defenders a merry dance, but he had clearly done his homework.
The Whites were determined not to allow a repeat of that 5-2 drubbing and their more cautious approach than usual - with Bobby Zamora deprived of his usual sidekick Andy Johnson - paid off handsomely.
The prowling Clint Dempsey smashed in the winner from close range five minutes from time after Pepe Reina had spilled a low drive from Danny Murphy and that was enough to bring a precious home win that had eluded the Whites since the drubbing of QPR at the beginning of October.
It was a goal they had been threatening more and more with each passing minute following the 72 nd minute dismissal of Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing for a lunging tackle on Moussa Dembele that ref Kevin Friend deemed reckless.
As Fulham cranked up the pressure in those final minutes, Dempsey, picked out by Bryan Ruiz on the edge of the area, clipped a shot against the bar, Dembele side-footed straight at the keeper from a John Arne Riise pull-back and Dembele, on the charge from half way after bursting past Charlie Adam, curled agonisingly wide.
The winner, when it came was therefore the logical conclusion to that increasing pressure, although Stewart Downing also hit the post for Liverpool in a counter-attack and the win never looked a done deal.
Although the first half was mostly stalemate, Fulham were encouraged in their game plan by the pockets of room found by Dempsey and Dembele in the danger areas.
In the space of a couple of minutes towards the end of the first half, Dempsey stung the palms of Reina, who was excellent throughout until his late, costly spill, then sent a measured drive just wide – both efforts struck from just outside the box.
In truth, Liverpool still carried the greater threat for the first 70 minutes and might have taken the lead when Suarez cut a ball back for Andy Carroll, eight yards out, only for the gangly England striker to fire against Mark Schwarzer.
Then Jordan Henderson cut inside Stephen Kelly to clip a curler off the inside of a post.
Suarez, never out of the action for too long and a constant target for home fans wound up about his histrionics when tackled, went very close with a low shot that shaved a post following one of the visitors' crisper moves.
There was also a collective sharp intake of breath from home fans on the hour when Philippe Senderos brought down Adam in full flight right on the edge of the area after the midfielder had bombed forward on the counter-attack.
But the game suddenly looked to be Fulham's for the taking when Spearing got his marching orders. And so it proved.
Line-up: Schwarzer; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Ruiz, Etuhu, Murphy (Gecov 90), Dembele, Dempsey; Zamora (Johnson 71). Subs not used: Etheridge, Kasami, Hughes, Frei, Briggs.