Not long afterwards substitute Erik Nevland put Fulham back ahead and Liverpool found themselves down to nine men after first Philipp Degen and then captain Jamie Carragher were shown straight red cards. Clint Dempsey wrapped up the scoring late on to complete a 3-1 win.
Related ArticlesRafael Benítez slams refereeFulham 3 Liverpool 1Premier League tablePremier League actionBolton Wanderers 0 Chelsea 4Premier League fixturesBenitez attempted to justify his decision to rest Torres on the grounds a similar policy had worked last week against Manchester United, when he scored the first goal in a 2-0 victory.
"We decided to play Fernando against United and that was difficult because he was not 100 per cent fit. Afterwards he needed four days to recover," Benitez said.
"We needed to do something to protect the player. We were more or less in control of the game. If we had left him on the pitch maybe we would have lost the player for a month.
"It was a difficult decision but we decided to start with him because he can do a proper warm-up.
"But we decided to take him out at 60 minutes. The last time he played 80 minutes it took him four days to be fit."
Benitez also made it clear he would appeal against both red cards, with Degen having been found guilty of a lunge at Dempsey and Carragher hauling drown Zamora.
"We will have to appeal. The first one was, for me, a yellow card and the other one it was clear that 'Carra' was kicking the ball. I saw it on a replay. Two incidents in a few minutes when we were losing was difficult to take."
Liverpool must pick themselves up for their Champions League contest in Lyon on Wednesday with Glen Johnson admitting it would be a "disaster" if they fail to qualify for the knockout stages.
"We have still got to believe we can do it. We don't even want to start thinking about the Europa League.
"It will be no consolation at all. It's not the aim and it's not the plan because we want to be in the Champions League. It is one of the main reasons why players want to play for a big side."
While Benitez has often been accused of putting Europe ahead of domestic honours, Fulham manager Roy Hodgson believes Liverpool's Premier League title chances should not be written off just yet.
Liverpool sit nine points off leaders Chelsea, but Hodgson said: "You never know. They are a very good team, very well organised. They have some very good players and are unlucky at the moment that their talisman Steven Gerrard isn't playing and (Fernando) Torres isn't 100 per cent fit and has to be nursed through the games.
"But I can see them going on a really good run when they win seven, eight, nine games in a row and if that was to coincide with one or two defeats for the other top teams they would soon be up there again.
"With a quarter of the season gone it is very early to be writing anybody off. I remember not so long ago Manchester United were lingering in the middle of the table almost halfway through the season and went on to win it.
"If I was Sir Alex (Ferguson) or Arsene (Wenger) or Carlo Ancelotti I don't think I would be writing them off."