Chelsea captain John Terry marked his return from suspension with a goal but then suffered what appeared to be a serious injury before Luis Suarez ensured Liverpool came away from a trip to Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw.
Terry has a knack for responding to periods of adversity with goals and on his first domestic appearance since serving a four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand the Chelsea captain headed his team in front after 20 minutes when exploiting some terrible marking.
However, on 35 minutes Terry sustained a nasty injury following a collision with Suarez. The Uruguayan's role in the incident was accidental, but the weight of his body bent Terry's right leg back at an unnatural angle and Terry appeared in some distress when going off on a stretcher.
Suarez then pulled Liverpool level with a close-range header on 73 minutes as the visiting side secured a very useful draw that puts them 13th in the table. Chelsea sit three points behind leaders Manchester United in third.
Liverpool switched to a 3-5-2 formation for the trip to Stamford Bridge as Brendan Rodgers sought to stifle a Chelsea attack comprising Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata and a familiar face in Fernando Torres, who swapped Liverpool for Chelsea in a £50 million deal in January 2011.
However, their beefed-up midfield was still unable to contain Chelsea in the opening exchanges, and the home side should have taken the lead after only six minutes. Joe Allen - normally so reliable in possession - was caught 30 yards from his own goal and after Hazard played in Oscar, the Brazilian lifted a shot over the bar when through.
On 20 minutes Terry was not so careless, though the Liverpool defence was mystifyingly helpful to the Chelsea captain. He was left completely free from a corner and powered home a header before indulging in an emotional celebration.
It was Terry's 50th goal for Chelsea, yet within 15 minutes he was leaving the pitch on a stretcher, having sustained a knee injury in a collision with Suarez. The defender required five minutes of treatment on the pitch and had a fearful look in his eyes when being carried down the tunnel.
With Liverpool struggling to create anything of note - Nuri Sahin producing one suitably comical attempt at a shot - it was left to Chelsea to provide impetus. Torres tested Brad Jones with one curling effort, with Hazard thumping the rebound wide, before Mata wasted a glorious chance for a second deep into first-half injury time.
Chelsea profited from an error as three Liverpool players collided, with Oscar nodding the ball into Mata's path on the right. He drove forward and jinked past Andre Wisdom to go clear but the ball bobbled just as he struck it and his effort flew over the bar.
Having failed to have a single shot on target in the first half, Liverpool continued to prove toothless in attack after the break with Chelsea looking the more likely to add to the scoring. Torres, still searching for a goal against his former side, went close when directing a header at goal from a free kick but Brad Jones produced a fine save.
However, Liverpool did eke out an equaliser against the run of play after 73 minutes. Suso, on as a substitute for Sahin, curled in a corner from the right and Jamie Carragher flicked the ball on to Suarez, who had pushed Ramires in the back to make space for himself and headed home from close range.
The goal changed the momentum of the game as Liverpool suddenly became infused with belief. Indeed, they could have won it when Jose Enrique released Suarez - only for the Uruguayan to fail to touch the ball past Cech when through on goal.
Suarez then played in Enrique in injury time following a purposeful run from Sterling, but the Spaniard saw his firm effort batted away by Cech at his near post as Chelsea clung on for a merited point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jose Enrique, Liverpool: The Spaniard was full of energy and his lung-busting work down the left wing was crucial as Liverpool secured a very welcome draw at the home of the European champions.
CHELSEA: Cech 6, Azpilicueta 5, Ivanovic 6, Terry 7, Bertrand 6, Mikel 6, Ramires 6, Mata 7, Oscar 6, Hazard 7, Torres 5. Subs: Cahill 6, Moses 6, Sturridge N/A.
LIVERPOOL: Jones 7, Johnson 6, Wisdom 6, Carragher 6, Agger 6, Enrique 8, Sahin 5, Allen 5, Gerrard 6, Sterling 6, Suarez 7. Subs: Suso 7.
- Sports & Recreation
- John Terry