After three straight home defeats, their worst record for five years, it was a game Liverpool couldn’t afford to lose.
Yet lose it they very nearly did after David Luiz took advantage of a snoozing Simon Mignolet to open the scoring before Georginio Wijnaldum popped up to equalise.
There was still time for more drama, Mignolet going from villain to hero by saving Diego Costa’s penalty, Roberto Firmino missing a late chance but a draw was just about the right result.
Yet for all Jurgen Klopp’s second-half resilience the Reds remain a distant 10 points behind Chelsea, their title hopes fading fast, now 16/1 to win the title.
That is not all, victory for Manchester City on Wednesday will see them move level on points with the Reds, their hopes of Champions League qualification now under real threat.
Luiz celebrates landmark in style
In a way the hosts only had themselves to blame. After a bright start where they dominated possession a moment of madness saw Chelsea go ahead.
A fairly tepid clash between Adam Lallana and Eden Hazard saw the Blues awarded a free kick and while it was debatable, Liverpool have no excuses for what followed.
Luiz lined the ball up, the referee blew the whistle, the wall of Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Firmino stood rooted to the turf as it sailed over them and flew into the back of the net.
But what about Mignolet? Well, he was still in the middle of the goal shouting frantically at his defenders, not even looking at the ball.
Farcical goalkeeping but had he been in position he still might not have saved it such was the quality of Luiz’s strike – the perfect way to celebrate his 100th Premier League appearance for Chelsea with his first goal since his return.
Liverpool were dazed, evidenced after half-time as Jordan Henderson led several team-mates into the wrong end of the pitch before realising his mistake.
Mignolet goes from villain to hero
Yet they improved after they break, they simply had to, while Chelsea were far from their best. Eden Hazard was strangely subdued, Costa quiet, in fact the most animated of them all was Antonio Conte on the touchline, kicking every ball.
Firmino ought to have brought parity minutes after the restart, showing a real lack of composure by ballooning an excellent chance into the stands after the ball broke to him in the box.
But 10 minutes later the leveller came, Wijnaldum heading home after good work from Henderson and Milner.
The goal breathed new life into the Anfield crowd but they were almost silenced again by another calamity in defence, Joel Matip nudging Costa who needed no invitation to hit the turf.
Up stepped the Spaniard but Mignolet redeemed himself somewhat, guessing the right way to deny the striker and ensure the title race is not quite done and dusted.
There won’t be too much disappointment from Chelsea, however with results elsewhere also going in their favour. Arsenal slipped to defeat at home to Watford, Spurs were held at struggling Sunderland and the Blues are nine points clear with a tricky away fixture now out of the way.
Liverpool: Mignolet (5); Clyne (6.5), Matip (5), Lovren (6), Milner (6.5); Can (6), Henderson 6), Wijnaldum (7); Lallana (6.5), Firmino (6), Coutinho (6). Subs: Mane (6), Origi (5)
Unused subs: Karius, Moreno, Klavan, Lucas, Sturridge.
Chelsea: Courtois (7); Azpilicueta (6), Luiz (7.5), Cahill (6); Moses (6.5), Kante (7), Matic (6), Alonso (6.5); Willian (6), Costa (5), Hazard (5). Subs: Fabregas (6), Pedro (6.5), Bayshuayi (5).
Unused subs: Begovic, Zouma, Terry, Chalobah
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Other Premier League Results today
Arsenal 1-2 Watford
Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Burnley 1-0 Leicester
Middlesbrough 1-1 West Brom
Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham
Swansea 2-1 Southampton
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