Live Commentary: Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea - as it happened
Find out how Chelsea overcame Liverpool at Anfield 2-0 courtesy of Sports Mole's text updates.
By Liam Apicella, Features Editor Filed: Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 13:00 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 23:26 UK
Leaders Liverpool played host to Chelsea this afternoon knowing that a victory would tighten their grip on the Premier League title.
However, it was the second-placed Blues that hoisted themselves back into contention at Anfield courtesy of goals either side of the break from Demba Ba and Willian.
You can find out how the match unfolded with our minute by minute updates below.
1.03pmAfternoon all. While there have been a number of important fixtures in the Premier League this weekend, all the neutrals have been waiting for this one - Liverpool vs. Chelsea with the title on the line. It doesn't get much bigger than that!
1.06pmThe team news from Anfield should be with us shortly, but what are we expecting from Jose Mourinho? Is he really going to play a weakened side? If his team were to win today, they would close the gap on Liverpool to just two points. With that in mind, it would be a huge surprise if he didn't play the strongest team that he could, regardless of the fact that they play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
1.07pmAnd now the team news is in fact just starting to filter through. Let's begin with a look at how the hosts will start this clash...
1.11pmWell, the big news for Liverpool is the return of Daniel Sturridge, but he is only on the bench following a short stint on the sidelines with a hamstring complaint. It means that Luis Suarez will continue as a lone striker, with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho offering the supporter. Further back, Mamadou Sakho is again preferred to partner Martin Skrtel at the expense of Daniel Agger.
1.14pmAs for Chelsea, they may be at Anfield, but there team news has still not been released. It shouldn't be too long:
1.16pmCHELSEA SUBS: Hilario, Ake, Cahill, Van Ginkel, Baker, Willian, Torres
1.18pmWhat a big day it is for 20-year-old Tomas Kalas because Mourinho has handed the 20-year-old his first Premier League start in a match of such magnitude. The youngster from the Czech Republic will play alongside Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of the defence, with skipper John Terry injured and Gary Cahill rested on the bench. Elsewhere, Ashley Cole has kept his place at left-back, while Demba Ba starts up front.
1.21pmOf course, Kalas will have the small matter of trying to shackle Suarez this afternoon. Not ideal on your full debut, that's for sure. Liverpool's talisman has scored 30 goals so far this season and is currently tied with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for the European Golden Boot.
1.23pmAs has become the norm over the last few weeks, Suarez and his Liverpool teammates were giving a huge reception by their supporters as they entered Anfield earlier today. Some predicted that it could heap pressure on the players, but it seems to have had the opposite impact during the run in.
1.26pmThe level of support and the confidence that is has brought could be one of the major reasons behind how quickly Liverpool are starting games at present. Against the likes of Manchester City, Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, the Reds have scored early on, which means that the players and fans haven't had the chance to get nervous. You would expect, though, that a Mourinho team will look to keep things extremely tight, particularly during the opening exchanges. If that is proven to be the case, it will be interesting to see how the home side cope.
1.30pmThere is no doubt that Brendan Rodgers will urge his Liverpool players to test out Kalas's credentials within the first minute or so. However, he's not the only Chelsea youngster involved today. On the bench is Lewis Baker, who did this in a recent Under-21 clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium:
1.34pmSo, what are Chelsea up against today? League leaders Liverpool have played 17 games at Anfield, winning 15 and losing just one. That was back in September when Southampton returned to the South Coast with all three points. During that time, Liverpool have scored 51 goals and conceded 15 up the other end. With statistics like that, you could excuse young Kalas a few nerves.
1.38pmAs for Chelsea on the road, they've collected maximum points from eight out of their 17 trips, losing five times. One of those losses actually came on Merseyside in September at the hands of Everton.
1.42pmOf course, the result today does not just have an impact on these two clubs because Manchester City remain firmly in the title race. The Citizens, who play Crystal Palace later today, will be big Chelsea fans. If the West Londoners were to win and City triumph from their final four fixtures - starting at Palace - they will regain the trophy that they lifted in 2012. As for Chelsea, a win would move them two behind their hosts, who for their part just need to keep winning.
1.45pmBut what does a draw mean? Well, it favours Liverpool, because seven points from their three matches wins them the title. As for Chelsea, it all but ends their title hopes. Meanwhile, City would need Liverpool to drop points in another one of their final two encounters to profit.
1.49pmHere's a statistic from Opta that goes a long way to highlighting why Liverpool have reached the summit. Bare in mind, Manchester United in seventh never fielded the same side in any of the now sacked David Moyes's 51 matches in charge:
8 - Brendan Rodgers has named an unchanged side for the eighth time this season, more than any other Premier League manager. Stable.
1.53pmIt seems that Liverpool may be trying to goad Mourinho a little bit because Luis Garcia has just been introduced on the pitch! The former Liverpool attacker scored the goal - the one that Mourinho still brands 'the ghost goal' - during the 2005 Champions League semi-final between these teams, which saw the Reds advance through to the final. As you'd expect, the Spaniard is given a huge ovation by the home faithful.
1.56pmAnother stat from Opta, this time in favour of Chelsea and their manager:
6 - Jose Mourinho has won six and lost just one of his eight previous Premier League meetings with Liverpool. Technician.
2.01pmHere come the players and they are greeted to a huge roar from the Anfield crowd. Chelsea may have a weakened team out, but this is still a hugely significantly encounter. Not long now until we are off and running.
1 minKICKOFF! Here we go then. Chelsea, attacking The Kop End during the first half, get this massive fixture started.
3 minVery lively start from Liverpool and Sterling in particular. The young winger carries the ball a fair distance, but Cole does well in the end to get his body in between his fellow England international and the ball and a foul is eventually awarded.
5 minFirst sight of Chelsea's Schurrle as he speeds away from Glen Johnson down the left flank. The Liverpool full-back hacks down the German and is lucky to escape a booking for his actions. You can only assume that because it's so early, Martin Atkinson opted against flashing the yellow card.
6 minSAVE! It's Ashley Cole of all people that has Chelsea's first shot of the match. He wins a 50/50 challenge with Sterling deep inside Liverpool territory and then fires left footed towards goal. There's enough power to force Simon Mignolet to parry the ball, before the danger is eventually cleared.
9 min"F**k off Mourinho" is the cry from the home fans. They are not happy because as the ball rolled out for a Liverpool throw, the Chelsea boss picked it up and then held on to it. It's clear already that the Blues are in no rush.
12 minCHANCE! First opening for Liverpool as they carve apart the Chelsea defence. Unsurprisingly, Suarez is at the centre of the move as he turns inside and then lofts a cross over to the back post. Coutinho is waiting unmarked, but from a narrow angle, the Brazilian playmaker can only find the net side netting.
14 minCHANCE! Liverpool centre-back Sakho will feel that he should have scored. After Cole clears off the line, Suarez lashes the ball across the face of goal. Sakho is first to react, but his lack of composure is evident as he fires wildly over the crossbar from eight yards out. Had that have been Suarez on the end of that chance, it would probably be 1-0 to the hosts.
19 minChelsea's game-plan is clear. They are willing to let Liverpool get the ball in wide areas, safe in the knowledge that likes of Ivanovic tower over Suarez and company. Then, when they get some possession themselves, Salah down the right flank is using his pace and looks to be the outlet.
22 minBOOKING! Salah may be quick, but he's got nothing on Sterling! The Liverpool winger has just sped away from his Chelsea counterpart, despite the fact that he had a standing start. The outcome is a trip from Salah, who rightly goes into Atkinson's book.
25 minThe latest possession statistic shows that Liverpool have had 74% of the ball. Yet, for all their domination, they've found it very hard to break down the Chelsea rearguard. When Liverpool do have the ball, they are faced with at least nine Chelsea players between them and the goal.
27 minAnd here is another of Mourinho's tactics, as we discussed earlier:
31 minIt's not happening for Demba Ba so far. He's playing as a lone striker for Chelsea and the service to him has been limited. However, he's not helping himself because when he has received the ball, his first touch has been poor, which has allowed his marker - be it Skrtel or Sakho - to steal a march and win back possession. It needs to stick better as far as Chelsea are concerned.
34 minWhile Ba is struggling at one end, Liverpool are also finding it very tough to break down Chelsea. Moments ago Coutinho attempted a through pass for Suarez, but the Brazilian puts far too much pace on the ball and it runs out for a goal kick.
37 minChelsea have just forced a couple of corners, which have come to nothing. Still, at least it's a sign of attacking intent from the visitors.
39 minPENALTY APPEAL! Big shouts from Chelsea - they want a penalty as Salah's powerful strike from the edge of the area hits Jon Flanagan. Replays show that it did indeed hit the Liverpool defender on the hand, but it was by no means intentional. That seems to be the view of Atkinson, who waves play on, much to the disgust of Mourinho and his players.
41 minCHANCE! First effort of the afternoon from Suarez and he will feel that he should have done much better. It starts with Cole surrendering possession, before the ball is worked to the Liverpool striker 20 yards form goal. He goes for a curling effort, but there is too much height on the shot and Schwarzer is able to watch it fly over his crossbar in comfort.
43 minBOOKING! A second foul on Sterling and it results in another booking. This time it's Lampard, who mistimes his slide on the Liverpool winger on the halfway line.
45 minThere will be three minutes of stoppage time at the end of this first half, largely down to Chelsea's delaying tactics.
45+3 minSteven Gerrard, what have you done?! Normally so assured, he loses control inside his own half and then slips. That allows Ba a free run on goal. There is still plenty of time for him to think about it, but he shows great composure to slide the ball underneath an advancing Mignolet. As it stands, the title race is wide open.
2.58pmWhat an end to the half that was. The home fans rally behind their team and Gerrard in particular, chanting his name. Chelsea lead and as it stands, they are two points behind Liverpool, while the title is in City's hands.
3.01pmA penny for Gerrard's thoughts right now. He's contributed so much to put Liverpool within touching distance of the title and one mistake could have blown it. There is, of course, a long way to go in this match. What Liverpool need to do is remain patient and keep getting the likes of Sterling and Coutinho on the ball, which should in turn see Suarez become more involved. The Uruguayan, by his standards, has been very quiet so far.
3.04pmMeanwhile, say what you want about Mourinho, he knows how to set up his team to get a result. Again, there is plenty of football to be played, but it's so far so good. They've been solid in defence and midfield and have occasionally looked threatening on the break. In terms of the Premier League, the biggest 45 minutes of their campaign awaits them.
3.06pmBENCH WATCH: While Mourinho is not likely to be in a hurry to make any changes, it might not be long until Rodgers turns to Sturridge. Suarez has cut a frustrated figure at times, but the presence of Sturridge will give the Chelsea defence another player to mark, which in turn should provide Suarez with some extra space. Failing that, there isn't much else on the bench that you would back to swing the game Liverpool's way.
3.07pmThe thoughts of former Liverpool striker Michael Owen:
No surprise with how both teams are playing. Liverpool probing a packed defence and Chelsea happy to sit back and wait for a mistake.
46 minRESTART! Big 45 minutes ahead as Liverpool get the second half underway. "Attack, attack, attack" demand the home fans.
49 minIt's been a bright start to the second half by Liverpool, who are responding to the support that they are receiving. Gerrard takes a corner from the left, but it's easily cleared by Ba.
52 minPENALTY APPEAL! Liverpool want a penalty, but Kalas uses his strength more than anything to ease Sterling off the ball. Even if a foul had been given, replays show that the challenge was made outside of the area.
56 minThere's been little change to proceedings at the start of this second half. Liverpool are seeing virtually all of the ball, but they are finding it tough to break down a resolute Chelsea defence. Surely it won't be long until Sturridge is introduced into the action.
59 minLIVERPOOL SUB: And here indeed does come Sturridge, who replaces holding midfielder Lucas. Can he return to haunt his former club?
60 minSAVE! You'd never guess that Schwarzer is 41 years of age after these reflexes. Joe Allen connects with a volley cleanly from 25 yards out, but just as The Kop starts to celebrate, Chelsea's stand-in goalkeeper throws himself down to his left to parry clear the danger.
61 minCHELSEA SUB: The first alteration of the afternoon from Mourinho and it's the speedy Salah that exits the action. He has been replaced by Willian.
63 minSAVE! For all their pressure, it's a warning for Liverpool as Schurrle cuts inside Johnson and then unleashes a low shot that would have crept into the bottom corner of the net but for a smart stop by Mignolet. That could turn out to be a crucial save come the final whistle.
67 minLiverpool continue to push forward, but finding a chink in the Chelsea armour is proving to be a tough ask right now. Gerrard has just tried to atone for his earlier error, but he can only curl an effort from 20 yards out straight at Schwarzer, who clutches the ball with ease.
71 minRight now, Liverpool look bereft of ideas. Sterling has just tried to be clever with a chipped pass, but it is overhit and neither Sturridge nor Suarez can get there. It's met by groans from the home supporters, who are growing a little impatient.
75 minIt really is attack versus defence at the moment - like a training match. Liverpool have started to hoist high balls into the area, which is largely playing into Chelsea's hands. Again Gerrard goes for goal with a powerful effort which moves in the air, but Schwarzer is able to grab at the second attempt.
77 minIn truth, Gerrard looks a little too desperate to make amends. Again he goes for goal from distance, but this time his strike is well wide of the target.
78 minCHELSEA SUB: It's an extra defender for Chelsea as Gary Cahill is brought on to make it three centre-backs. The England international has replaced Schurrle, who has been suffering with cramp over recent minutes.
80 minSAVE! This is starting to feel a bit like David Beckham for England against Greece in 2001. Again Gerrard goes for goal, this time with his head from a floated Suarez cross. The Liverpool skipper cannot generate enough power, though, and Schwarzer is able to grasp the ball with relative ease.
82 minLIVERPOOL SUB: What a time this would be for Iago Aspas to make a name for himself. Liverpool's forgotten man has replaced Flanagan, with the hosts switching to three at the back.
83 minAlmost an immediate impact from Aspas as he exchanges passes with Sterling. The latter then gets to the byline, but his cut back is cleared behind for a corner by a retreating Mikel. Good defending from the Chelsea midfielder.
85 minCHELSEA SUB: Jeers ring out for former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, who has replaced Chelsea goalscorer Ba.
87 minOnce again Gerrard takes aim from 25 yards out, but once again the ball flies well wide. The home fans are getting behind their team - can the players respond? They are running out of time, that's for sure.
90 minThe camera is cutting to Liverpool legends like Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen. All look a little nervous as four minutes of stoppage time is flashed up on the board. A goal now would surely secure the title for Liverpool - can they get it?
90+2 minSAVE! Liverpool are throwing the kitchen sink at Chelsea now! It's Suarez that drives a half-volley goalwards, but Schwarzer is able to get two firm hands on the ball to tip it over the crossbar. Meanwhile, Cole goes into the book for time wasting.
90+4 minMourinho sprints down the touchline to celebrate as Willian wraps up the points! As Liverpool pour forward, they leave a huge gap which Torres exploits. He's through on Mignolet, but instead of shooting, he squares for Willian to roll the ball over the line. Game over and Chelsea are back in the title race in a big way.
4.02pmAtkinson blows the whistle for the final time, bringing the curtain down on a game that could end up having a huge impact on the title race. Chelsea are back in contention, while the destination of the title is in Man City's hands and not Liverpool's. What an exciting end to the season this is going to be.
4.03pmThat is all we have time for from Anfield. Before we go, for those of you that want to relive that clash, we already have a match report live on the site, which can be viewed here. Until next time, goodbye.