Premier League champions Chelsea snatched a late point at Anfield as they drew 1-1 with Liverpool on Saturday evening.
Former Blue Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for the hosts Mid-May through the second half but Chelsea reacted late in the game as Willian netted a fortuitous equaliser with only minutes to go.
Champions dominate first period
It did take a while for the game to spark into life at Anfield with the first real chance at goal coming in the 21st minute as Simon Mignolet palmed away a curling drive from Eden Hazard. The Belgian forward had found space and cut inside but could not beat his international team-mate in the Liverpool net.
The mercurial winger was then involved in Chelsea’s next opening as he played through Danny Drinkwater, who had made a clever run from deep. The former Leicester City man just failed to prod home past the on-rushing goalkeeper. Davide Zappacosta, who lined up on the right, then tested the Liverpool stopper as he found space on the wing but the ball was punched well over.
From the resulting corner however, Chelsea nearly found their opening. The ball bobbled around the Reds’ penalty area as they failed to clear but the likes of Gary Cahill could not connect with enough conviction and the ball was eventually cleared.
Anfield finally wakes up
Jurgen Klopp’s men did eventually put their visitors under some pressure as the opening period drew to a close. Mohamed Salah found himself one-on-one with Gary Cahill on the left hand side of the penalty area and attempted to curl the ball past Thibaut Courtois and looked destined to find the net. The ball though span just inches wide of goal and both sides went into the break level.
The hosts were much-improved after half-time and might have felt unfortunate not to have gone ahead. Daniel Sturridge did well to manufacture himself a few yards of space in the penalty area. The England forward looked to be crossing the ball and it appeared to be an easy collect for Courtois. The former Atletico goalkeeper made a complete mess though by dropping the ball and was fortunate to see it bobble wide.
Salah strikes against former employers
The Blues were then presented one of the best openings of the game as they broke with a lung-busting counter-attack. Hazard played through Zappacosta who in turn provided an excellent cross. Neither Alvaro Morata nor Cesar Azpilicueta could connect with the ball however. Morata was also unlucky as another centre bounced off of his body and out for a goal kick.
Sturridge also went close but his shot was deflected away via an excellent block from Azpilicueta. The Reds did not have to wait much longer however as ex-Chelsea midfielder Mohamed Salah opened the scoring and it was mostly Chelsea’s doing. Phillipe Coutinho’s pass was cut out by Tiemoue Bakayoko but the Frenchman’s touch let him down. The ball bobbled through to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who with a deft touch found Salah. The Egyptian turned and coolly slotted low past Mignolet to give Liverpool the lead.
Wijnaldum could have doubled the lead from a corner but his header span fortunately into the arms of Courtois.
Chelsea snatch late point
The champions however snatched a late point via substitute Willian. The Brazilian came on in place of Zappacosta and thundered through the Liverpool midfield in the closing minutes. He attempted to cross to the back post but his effort only served to sail over Mignolet and nestle into the back of the net as the champions drew level.
Klopp introduced Mane and Coutinho in an effort to regain the lead, however the game remained all-square.
Liverpool will be disappointed to have not won a game in which they worked so hard to snatch the lead. Their attacking intent was clear to see in the second-half following an under-par first period. The Reds remain in fifth in the Premier League table.
Chelsea meanwhile will be delighted to have found an equaliser on a tough night at Anfield. Conte’s men were not able to replicate their first-half showing will be content with the draw. They remain in third in the table.
Liverpool: Mignolet (7); Moreno (7), Klavan (6), Matip (7), Gomez (7); Coutinho (7) (Mane (N/A), 89′), Henderson (6), Milner (6); Oxlade-Chamberlain (6) (Lallana (N/A), 89′), Sturridge (6) (Wijnaldum (6), 67′), Salah (6).
Chelsea: Courtois (6), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (6), Cahill (5); Zappacosta (6) (Willian (6), 83′), Drinkwater (6) (Fabregas (6), 74′), Kante (7), Bakayoko (6) (Pedro (N/A), 77′), Alonso (6); Hazard (7), Morata (5).
Goals: Salah (65′), Willian (85′)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
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