Luis Suarez scored an equaliser seven minutes into added time as Liverpool held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Anfield, but his feat was overshadowed by a disgraceful incident that saw the striker bite Branislav Ivanovic.
After Daniel Sturridge had responded to Oscar's headed opener at the start of the second half, Suarez supplying a brilliant assist, the Uruguayan began to make a rather less admirable contribution to proceedings.
He committed a clear handball after 55 minutes to allow Chelsea to take the lead again through an Eden Hazard penalty, but it was another part of his anatomy that caused so much controversy just over 10 minutes later.
Clashing with Ivanovic in the box, Suarez took the Chelsea defender's arm in his mouth and bit Ivanovic through the shirt. Though no further action was taken by the match officials, Suarez could well find himself hauled in front of the Football Association for the shameful act.
It is not the first time the Uruguayan striker has bitten an opponent. In 2010 he was hit with a seven-game ban for a similar incident with PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal, and never played another league game for the Amsterdam club.
But for all Suarez's faults he undoubtedly remains a devastating player and deep, deep into added time he nodded the ball past Petr Cech to complete an afternoon that showcased both the best and worst of English football's most divisive character.
Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez was afforded a warm reception on his return to Anfield, with the Liverpool support offering enthusiastic handshakes and singing his name before the stadium observed a minute's applause to mark the death of Hillsborough campaigner Anne Williams, who passed away this week.
Liverpool took the initiative in the opening minutes, Philippe Coutinho almost getting on the end of a cross from Glen Johnson before the right-back went close himself, stabbing the ball wide past the onrushing Petr Cech after Suarez played him in with a neat pass.
As Anfield serenaded Benitez with songs of Istanbul, his current side looked rather flat, Ramires offering a rare shot on goal when his firm drive from 20 yards made Jose Reina punch away rather unconvincingly. The keeper's handling was also faulty when he almost allowed a free-kick from David Luiz to escape his grasp from 30 yards.
However, Reina was beaten on 28 minutes by a rather unlikely source. Liverpool overlooked the spindly frame of Oscar from a corner and the playmaker drifted away from the front post to latch onto a Juan Mata delivery and divert the ball into the top corner - a similar finish to Didier Drogba's goal in last season's Champions League final.
Though Liverpool enjoyed a brief rally towards the end of the half - Suarez testing Cech with a lashed effort after Stewart Downing's neat pass before the firing another effort on target from the other extremity of the box - their bright start had faded from memory as Chelsea exerted greater control over the match.
The introduction of Sturridge brought Liverpool to life though. Within seconds of the restart he had played in Gerrard with a sublime pass, only for the skipper to be denied by an even more impressive save by Cech. Just minutes later, Sturridge rattled the frame of the goal with a vicious drive from 25 yards that cannoned off the post.
He would not be denied on 52 minutes, even if Suarez deserved much of the credit for Liverpool's equaliser. When Downing knocked a square pass to the Uruguayan he spotted Sturridge making a run in behind Luiz and, with a perfect combination of vision and technique, swept a gorgeous first-time pass over the head of the Chelsea defender and onto the boot of Sturridge, who had only to slot it home.
Suarez then began the process of self-destructing, his idiocy tarnishing the undoubted brilliance of his play. On 55 minutes he was merely clumsy, a clear handball in the area preventing Torres from getting his head to the ball, earning the striker a booking and allowing Hazard to convert from 12 yards.
But what followed on 66 minutes was completely unforgivable. Suarez clashed with Ivanovic and clearly bit his opponent's forearm. Ivanovic was rightly disgusted but Suarez escaped punishment. If the officials confirm they did not witness the incident, the FA is unlikely to be as lenient.
Substitute Jonjo Shelvey almost pulled Liverpool level when missing a brilliant chance following a sublime touch by Sturridge, but the young striker almost brought Liverpool into further disrepute with a late challenge on Ryan Bertrand that could have earned a red card.
Liverpool looked set for frustration as the clock ticked over into a seventh minute of injury time but, incredibly, Suarez ghosted free in the box to flick a header past Cech and earn his side a point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) - It would have been Suarez had he not bitten someone, so Sturridge takes the honours for the big impact he made after coming on at the break.
LIVERPOOL: Reina 5, Johnson 7, Carragher 5, Agger 6, Enrique 6, Henderson 7, Lucas 6, Gerrard 7, Downing 6, Coutinho 5, Suarez 5. Subs: Sturridge 8, Shelvey 5.
CHELSEA: Cech 7, Azpilicueta 6, Luiz 6, Ivanovic 6, Bertrand 6, Ramires 6, Mikel 6, Hazard 7, Mata 7, Oscar 8, Torres 6. Subs: Benayoun 6, Moses N/A, Lampard N/A.
- Sports & Recreation
- Daniel Sturridge
- Luis Suarez