Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea FC: Premier League rivals share the points after penalty drama at Anfield

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 (PA)
(PA)

A Mohammed Salah penalty just before half-time cancelled out a Kai Havertz header as Liverpool and Chelsea shared the spoils at Anfield with a fiery 1-1 Premier League draw.

This was a point won by Chelsea who showed their title credentials by keeping Liverpool at arm’s length for the majority of the contest. That they did so with ten men for half of it following Reece James’ sending off is worthy of praise.

When both teams had 11 on the pitch it was a fair fight. Romelu Lukaku’s battle with Virgil van Dijk was billed as a collision of giants, but the Chelsea target man is more than just a hulking frame. He was constantly on the move, pulling Liverpool’s defence with him. In the spaces he created Mason Mount and Havertz marauded forward.

That is not to say that Liverpool were passive. Jordan Henderson had a golden chance to open the scoring but opted to tee up a teammate rather than go for goal having met Trent Alxander-Arnold’s diagonal ball on the full.

But it was Chelsea who registered the first goal. Havertz made a near post run and stopped to meet a corner with the back half of his head. It was a delightful bit of skill amplified by the almost slow-motion arc as the ball looped over Alisson.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

That swung the pendulum dramatically in the visitors’ favour as Mount flashed one across the face of the goal. Further back, a disciplined defence and Ngolo Kante ensured that Liverpool’s ball players had little time to think. You could sense their frustration growing as passes failed to reach their intended destination with rising regularity.

With half-time approaching, Liverpool won a corner on the left. The in-swinger found Sadio Mane who flicked it towards the back post where Joel Matip was stationed. The centre back kept the ball in play but Mendy made a mess of things as the ball came down to earth.

That allowed Matip a second go but his header cannoned off the upright. Mane followed up and stabbed a shot towards goal where James lunged to his right and kept the ball out.

Liverpool players surrounded referee Anthony Taylor and implored him to take another look. He obliged and replays showed that James had unquestionably used his arm in preventing the goal.

Taylor had no choice but to point to the spot and show James a red card. Salah converted and a mini scuffle broke out. The half-time whistle couldn’t have come at a better time.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

The second half was characterised by Liverpool bossing the ball and Chelsea waiting to pick them off on the counterattack. Alisson was not tested again beyond a stinging drive straight at him from substitute Mateo Kovacic, but Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy pulled off a string of tidy saves from Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, but these efforts all came from range.

In fact all of Liverpool’s best attempts were hopeful shots from outside the box, though Henderson’s curler from 30 yards wasn’t far off.

That is a testament to Thomas Tuchel and his team. This is a well organised outfit that can score goals as well as they can keep them out.

Jurgen Klopp will know that this was a missed opportunity. 45 minutes with a man advantage against the European champions is the sort of luxury that is not afforded to most teams. That his team were unable to pick their way through will be of some concern and will no doubt offer a blueprint for other equally stoic defences.

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