Sports Mole's live text coverage of Rafael Benitez's return to Anfield as his Chelsea side took on Liverpool and drew 2-2.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 15:00 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 21:52 UK
Luis Suarez stole the headlines this afternoon by grabbing a late equaliser having bitten Branislav Ivanovic earlier in the match as Liverpool drew 2-2 with Chelsea.
The visitors took the lead through Oscar in the first half before Daniel Sturridge levelled the scores after the break having come on at half time.
Suarez then conceded a penalty for a handball inside the box, allowing Eden Hazard to send Pepe Reina the wrong way from the spot.
The Uruguayan then appeared to bite Ivanovic on the arm before getting on the end of a Sturridge pass to rescue a point for his side with a 97th minute header.
You can read how a dramatic 90 minutes of football unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage below.
3pmGood afternoon! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be an emotional Anfield return for Rafael Benitez as Chelsea take on Liverpool. Let's get straight down to business.
3.02pmWe'll start by looking at our hosts today. Liverpool have been plagued by inconsistency so far this season, which is the main reason behind their league position. Seventh is not a good enough place for a team of Liverpool's stature, but they have repeatedly failed to string together a prolonged period of good results so it is what they deserve so far this season.
3.04pmBrendan Rodgers's side have produced some of the best performances we have seen from anyone in the league this season, but followed up those results with defeats against the likes of Aston Villa and Southampton.
3.06pmTheir last two matches have yielded two goalless draws for the Reds, but they have played good football in both. They dominated against West Ham but just couldn't break the Hammers down, while they were thwarted by a magnificent goalkeeping performance against Reading last week.
3.08pmThose two results have really killed off any hopes Liverpool had of sneaking into the race for a top four spot this season, but they will still have their sights set on Everton above them. A win today would see them move to within three points of their Merseyside neighbours.
3.10pmChelsea, meanwhile, would make even more significant strides up the table with a win today. They would move back into third, above Arsenal as the race for a top four spot takes another twist. They are currently two points behind the Gunners so a draw would keep them in fourth, but they do have two games in hand.
3.12pmThey have been very busy over the past few weeks due to their involvement in the latter stages of the Europa League and FA Cup, which is perhaps the main reason behind their patchy league form. They have won five, lost three and drawn two of their last 10 matches, including dropping points against the likes of Southampton, Reading and Newcastle.
3.14pmHowever, four of their last five matches have resulted in wins, so their immediate form, ignoring a loss to Southampton, has been pretty good. They ran out comfortable 3-0 victors over Fulham in their last outing, but with only three days to rest between then and today's game it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will be tired.
3.16pmUPDATE: The earlier kickoff today will be of great interest to Chelsea fans in particular as it involves a fellow challenger for a Champions League spot in Spurs. They were trailing Man City until three quickfire goals have put them 3-1 up. You can follow the closing stages of that match here.
3.18pmTEAM NEWS: The team news is in for both sides and the main headline from the Liverpool camp is that Daniel Sturridge will not start against his former club. He is left on the bench as Suarez leads the line on his own. As for Chelsea, Fernando Torres will once again grace the Anfield turf as he starts ahead of Ba, while John Terry is left on the bench despite scoring twice against Fulham. Full team news coming right up...
3.26pmSo, what can we make of those starting lineups? Well, I'm slightly surprised that Rodgers has opted to leave Sturridge on the bench again. The England man is the sort of player who would like to prove a point against his former club.
3.28pmOther than that, though, there are no surprises in the Liverpool team. Their dangerman will be Luis Suarez, who is still the league's top scorer despite not having found the net in his last four games. He is such a tricky player and will fancy his chances against the likes of Ivanovic and Luiz this afternoon. Gerrard and Coutinho both have the ability to create a chance or score one should the opportunity arise, while Jamie Carragher's inclusion shows that the veteran still has what it takes to compete against the best teams.
3.30pmUnless his retirement plans change at the end of this season, this will be the last time that Carragher plays Chelsea, a club that he has a long history with. He has not come up against any other club more often in his illustrious career, and was at the heart of a number of classic matches between the two sides during the Benitez/Mourinho eras.
3.32pmSpeaking of Benitez, his return to Anfield is as noteworthy as any of his selections on the pitch this afternoon. The Spaniard is still adored on Merseyside, and he has made it abundantly clear that the feeling is mutual. He will receive a rapturous welcome by the home fans, who will probably be more supportive of him than the Chelsea fans will! I dare say that Benitez could go on to manage both Manchester United and Everton but still have a special place in the hearts of Liverpool fans, not least because of the 2005 Champions League success.
3.34pmToday also sees the return of Fernando Torres to Anfield. The striker hasn't enjoyed the best of times at Chelsea since his £50m move from Liverpool, but he has started to find some form this season. He used to excel when playing against Chelsea for Liverpool, can he do the same on opposite sides today? Liverpool will certainly have to be wary of the striker, but the likes of Carragher and Agger know how to play against him.
3.36pmHazard, Mata and Oscar will all pose a very serious threat too, and Lucas and Gerrard will have a tough job keeping them quiet throughout. The skilful trio can all score and create chances and, if given the space, can dictate the tempo of the game.
3.38pmBehind them, Benitez has opted for Ramires and Mikel, leaving Lampard on the bench which is quite surprising. Mikel's inclusion will allow Ramires to make more attacking strides, but the chosen pairing is more negative and defensive than including Lampard would have been. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to break Bobby Tambling's goalscoring record, but he is ruinning out of time and will want all the chances he can get so being left out will annoy him.
3.40pmTerry will also be annoyed at being left out, but I see the sense in Benitez's decision here. Ivanovic and Luiz are the more mobile centre-back pairing which, against someone as tricky as Suarez, is important.
3.42pmThese two clubs have a long, storied history that has really heated up in the last decade or so since Roman Abramovich arrived. It is Liverpool who have the upper hand in recent matches between the two, however. Chelsea have won just one of the last seven meetings, with Liverpool picking up five wins in that time. There have been some truly classic matches in that time as well, not least the 4-4 draw between the two in the Champions League in 2009.
3.44pmThe last time that Chelsea beat Liverpool in the league was back in 2010. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard got the goals on that occasion as the Blues ran out 2-0 winners at Anfield.
3.46pmLiverpool have the edge in the entire history of this fixture, however, winning 69 of the 155 meetings between the two sides compared to Chelsea's 52.
3.48pmThe most recent of those matches came earlier this season in the Premier League when it finished 1-1 at Stamford Bridge. John Terry got Chelsea's goal on that occasion before being forced off with a nasty injury that has had a big impact on the rest of his season, while Suarez scored for Liverpool.
3.50pmPREDICTION: We're 10 minutes form kickoff at Anfield, which can only mean one thing - it's prediction time! It is always hard predicting Liverpool matches as they are so inconsistent, while Chelsea under Benitez are also very hard to second guess. However, Liverpool do tend to raise their game against the top teams and I think that they will come out on top today. I predict a 2-1 home win and an unhappy return to Anfield for Benitez.
3.52pmThe good news for Chelsea is that Liverpool's home record so far this season leaves a lot to be desired. They have picked up 28 points from 16 games in front of their own fans, a tally that is only the ninth-best in the league. They have won eight, drawn four and lost four of those matches, scoring 30 goals and conceding 14.
3.54pmIn comparison, Chelsea's away record is quite good. A win today would give them 30 points from 17 matches on their travels, which would be a record that only Manchester United can better. As it stands they have the fifth best away record in the league this season with 27 points from 16 games.
3.56pmThere are plenty of sub-plots to today's match. Torres, Benayoun, Glen Johnson and Daniel Sturridge all could play against the former clubs today, while both Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez also take on their former clubs from the touchline. In addition to that, Benitez signed Coutinho when in charge at Inter Milan.
3.58pmWe will have a minute's applause before kickoff in memory of Anne Williams, a tireless Hillsborough campaigner, who died earlier this week and in memory of those who lost their lives in the Boston bombings.
4pmRight, we're just about ready to go here at Anfield. A big 90 minutes awaits both sides!
0 minKICKOFF: Chelsea get us underway but Liverpool immediately win the ball. Coutinho gives it away and Lucas fouls his man, but it is a fired up start from Liverpool.
1 minGlen Johnson whips an early ball into the box and Coutinho flings himself at it, attempting a diving header, but it is too far in front of him.
3 minLiverpool fans generally treat former players with great respect and love, but that can't be said of Torres. He draws a chorus of boos with his first touch. Meanwhile, the first chants of Benitez's name ring out from the home support, and he acknowledges them with a wave. It's not often that you'll get the home fans chanting the name of the opposition manager, and you must wonder what is going through Rodgers's mind.
5 minCHANCE! The first big opening of the match falls to Johnson, but he can only poke his effort wide. Henderson plays the ball to Suarez, who turned on it before slipping a pass behind the defence of Johnson, but the full-back is stretching to reach it and sends it wide. Good start from Liverpool.
6 minSHOT! Gerrard whips a dangerous ball into the box that Suarez is inches from connecting with. Mikel heads it clear to the edge of the box where Henderson is waiting, but his first-time volley goes well over. Liverpool are the better side at the moment.
8 minSuarez tries to feed the ball behind the defence towards Henderson, but he just puts too much on the pass. The Uruguayan looks in the mood today, though, and Chelsea will need to disrupt his rhythm if they want to keep him quiet.
9 minIt is all Liverpool at the moment. Enrique links up with Coutinho on the edge of the Chelsea box and the Brazilian tries to dink a clever ball over the defence in to Suarez, but Cech is out to collect. Chelsea haven't really got going yet.
12 minRamires tries to create something going forward for Chelsea but his pass into the right channel doesn't find a blue shirt and runs out for a goal kick. More chants of Benitez's name ring out from the Kop, just before another chant of "there's only one Brendan Rodgers". Nice to see he's not being left out!
14 minChelsea are starting to see more of the ball now and are beginning to ease their way into this match. They still haven't created anything to threaten Pepe Reina, but they are starting to settle.
16 minA nice Liverpool move results in Suarez slipping the ball into the box to find Henderson, who is playing in a very advanced role today. He tries to back heel it back into the path of Suarez, but his pass is intercepted and put behind for a corner.
18 minThe ball almost slips under the boot of Carragher, who is forced to react quickly to avoid coming under serious pressure. He puts a little too much on the back pass to Reina too, and the keeper is forced to clear it out for a throw in.
19 minSHOT! Reina is called into action for the first time today as Mata slips the ball to Ramires about 25 yards from goal. The Chelsea man strikes at goal first time and it is a decent effort, but it is straight at Reina, who punches clear.
21 minMikel brings Suarez down from behind and Liverpool have a free kick just inside the Chelsea half. This match has quietened down a bit in the last five minutes or so as both sides struggle to find a way through the opposition defence.
23 minSHOT! Oscar tries to inject some inspration into the match by going for goal from range, but his shot ends up quite a long way wide of the target.
24 minLiverpool almost pick a way through the Chelsea defence as Coutinho finds Henderson in the box. The midfielder tries to touch it off to Enrique, who has made a good run, but the pass is just behind the full-back and Chelsea clear it away.
26 minBrendan Rodgers will be fuming at that goal, it was all too easy for Oscar from a corner. With all of Chelsea's aerial prowess in the box the Brazilian seems to ghost to the front post unnoticed before flicking a header right into the corner. It is a fine header but he had too much space in a very dangerous area and, out of nowhere, Chelsea find themselves in the lead.
28 minYELLOW CARD! Hazard races straight at the heart of the Liverpool defence before being bundled over by Henderson's tackle from behind. It was a cynical tackle, but the resulting yellow may be a little harsh.
29 minCLOSE! The free kick is a long way out, at least 35 yards, but that doesn't stop Luiz going for goal. His effort isn't the best, but it bounces just in front of Reina which makes it difficult for the keeper. Reina fumbles it and it almost creeps over the line, but the Liverpool keeper manages to pull it back at the last second. Almost a howler.
31 minLiverpool have a corner, but can't make as much of it as Chelsea managed to five minutes ago. Downing takes it but it is a waste as he over-hits the cross.
32 minLuiz comes under pressure from both Suarez and Gerrard and slips when trying to clear the ball. Gerrard immediately looks to release the Uruguayan, but his pass it too heavy and Suarez was offside anyway, much to the relief of Luiz.
34 minSuarez has found himself picking the ball up very deep at times in this match as he looks to initiate an attack. It is often Henderson who is the furthest forward for Liverpool, which is not exactly what they will want.
36 minYELLOW CARD! Fernando Torres enters the referee's notebook, much to the delight of the home fans. He caught Carragher with his forearm when going up for a header. Nothing malicious intended I'm sure, but it was a foul.
38 minLiverpool lose possession in their own half, allowing Mata to slip a ball in towards Torres. Reina is quickly off his line to collect the pass, however, and the danger is cleared.
39 minReina needs to be quick off his line again to deny Mata. The Spaniard gives the ball to Hazard before making a beeline for the box. Hazard lifts a clever ball over the defence looking for his midfield partner, but Reina is there to deny him.
40 minCHANCE! Liverpool almost find the equaliser as a slick, fluid move from the hosts results in Suarez getting the ball inside the box, but his shot from a tight angle is beaten away by Cech. It was a good chance, but the angle was always against Suarez there.
43 minLiverpool have enjoyed some level of joy down the right flank today, and that looks to be their most likely avenue of getting back into this match.
45 minThere will be one minute of added time at Anfield.
45 minSAVE! Another good move from Liverpool sees Suarez slipped in inside the box, but again it is a very tight angle and a keeper of Cech's ability will never be beaten from there.
4.49pmThe referee brings the first half to a close and, to be honest, it hasn't been the best 45 minutes of football. Liverpool started brightly but since then neither side has been at their best and they have both struggled to break the opposition down.
4.51pmThe goal came a bit out of the blue, and from an unlikely source as Oscar lost his marker from a corner, drifting to the front post to nod a effort past Reina. It was poor marking from Liverpool, and I think it was Agger who was charged with marking the Brazilian.
4.53pmNeither side really deserves to be in front at the moment. Liverpool have perhaps had the best chances, but they only tested Cech for the first time towards the end of the half.
4.55pmDaniel Sturridge is warming up at the moment and he looks likely to come on sooner rather than later. Whether or not Rodgers will make the change at the break remains to be seen, but he will have to make a change eventually if the second half progresses in a similar way to the first.
4.57pmIt is a happy return to Anfield for Rafa Benitez so far, though. He will want to see more from his side as they really haven't got going yet, but as long as they continue to keep Liverpool at bay then I am sure he will take a repeat performance. As things stand, Chelsea will move back into third place.
4.59pmTorres hasn't had the best of times on his return to Anfield so far. The striker looks a forlorn figure up front and he hasn't contributed anything to the match. I wouldn't be surprised to see him replaced by Demba Ba if he doesn't improve soon.
5.01pmBrendan Rodgers will be imploring his side to improve. I have mentioned their inconsistency already, but usually they raise their game against the likes of Chelsea. That hasn't happened so far, but if they can get the likes of Gerrard and Suarez on the ball more then they are perfectly capable of overturning this deficit.
5.02pmLIVERPOOL SUB: Sturridge does indeed come on at the break, replacing Philippe Coutinho.
45 minKICKOFF: Liverpool get us back underway at Anfield.
45 minCHANCE! Sturridge makes an immediate impact as Liverpool almost make the perfect start to the second half. Just 18 seconds after the restart Sturridge slips past his man and gives the ball to Gerrard inside the box, but the Liverpool skipper's first-time effort is brilliantly saved by the foot of Cech.
47 minOFF THE POST! Oh my word what an impact Sturridge is having! He spins away from his man again before unleashing a magnificent effort from about 25 yards out that has Cech beaten all ends up. The Chelsea keeper is relieved to hear the clatter of the woodwork behind him, though, as Sturridge's effort misses by a matter of inches.
48 minChelsea reply with a chance of their own as Torres finds space inside the box. He drills a low ball into the middle where Hazard is waiting, but Carragher gets across to deflect it behind for a corner.
50 minDowning's corner is much better this time and Agger gets a good head to it. He aims it for the bottom corner but is penalised for a push on Ramires. That was quite a harsh decision but Cech got down to save the initial effort anyway. Very good response from Liverpool at the start of this half though.
51 minGOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea (Daniel Sturridge)
52 minWhat a sub Sturridge has proved to be! A long ball over the top is brought down well by Downing to Suarez, who clips a delightful ball over the head of the Chelsea defence to the feet of Sturridge. The sub has to adjust his feet before hitting it first time, but does so and makes no mistake with the finish. What a start to this half from Liverpool and it really is game on now!
53 minYELLOW CARD! Azpilicueta is shown a yellow card for a handball as Suarez tried to nick it past him.
54 minYELLOW CARD! Lucas also enters the referee's notebook for a foul on Mata.
57 minSuarez turns from hero to villain as he gives away a silly penalty moments after setting up the equaliser. A corner causes problems in the Liverpool box and it strikes the hand of Suarez, who inexplicably has his arms in the air. The ref is right to point to the spot and, after what seems like an age, Hazard eventually sends Reina the wrong way to restore Chelsea's lead. Suarez also picks up a yellow card in the process.
59 minThat is a big blow to Liverpool, who were very much on top in the second half until that goal. It remains to be seen how they respond to going behind, but the two goals that they have conceded have both been avoidable, which will annoy Rodgers.
61 minRamires threads a ball into Hazard, but the Belgian's touch is too heavy and the chance goes begging. Liverpool need to fall back into the rhythm they found before Chelsea's second goal.
63 minYELLOW CARD! Carragher is livid with Torres as he goes down under the smallest of touches from the Liverpool defender. The referee awards the foul, and Carragher lays into Torres verbally, which earns him a yellow card.
65 minOscar sends a very wayward pass to Suarez and Liverpool try to break away. Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard link up to create the chance, but the Chelsea defeance do well to stem the tide and clear it behind for a corner.
66 minCarragher goes down under a challenge from Luiz right on the edge of the box. The ref awards a free kick in a very dangerous position, but Carragher is adamant it was inside the box and wants a penalty. The ref makes the right decision, however, and Liverpool have a free kick in a very good position...
67 minSHOT! Suarez will be very disappointed with his effort there. He drags it harmlessly wide of goal when he really should have done better. He did the right thing by attempting to drill it in, but will be annoyed by the strike.
69 minI've just seen a replay of an incident involving Luis Suarez and Ivanovic when the Uruguayan appears to have bitten the Chelsea defender. That is very strange behaviour from the Liverpool man and he could be facing a lengthy ban for that.
71 minSuarez has space to run at the defence and he holds the ball well until he gets support. He tries to slip Downing in, but puts too much on what is a pretty simple pass, forcing Downing too wide.
73 minThat Suarez incident gets worse the more you look at it. He just seems to court controversy and that may be his most controversial moment to date!
75 minSHOT! We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly from Suarez today. This latest action falls into the good camp as he slaloms his way past about six Chelsea players before letting fly from the edge of the box. His shot is well struck but straight at Cech, who does well to hold on to it.
76 minDowning cuts inside and finds space to shoot inside the box, but he gets it all wrong as he slices his shot out for a throw in. Not one to remember for the Liverpool winger.
78 minCHELSEA SUB: Yossi Benayoun will make his return to the hallowed turf of Anfield right now. He comes on to replace Eden Hazard.
79 minLIVERPOOL SUB: Liverpool respond with a change of their own as Jonjo Shelvey replaces Stewart Downing. They have just over 10 minutes to try to find at least one more goal here.
81 minYELLOW CARD! Shelvey becomes the latest player to be booked as he slides in late on Oscar. He is the fifth Liverpool player to enter the ref's notebook, and I think that he has been a bit too card-happy today. That was another one that didn't really require a card to be given.
83 minCHELSEA SUB: Oscar will not be able to continue after that tackle. He is replaced by Victor Moses.
84 minCHANCE! Big chance for Liverpool to get an equaliser! Sturridge takes a brilliant touch to give it to Henderson, who in turn slips in Shelvey. The Liverpool sub has plenty of time to pick his spot, but he goes for the near post and it hits the side netting. Half the ground think it is in, as does Brendan Rodgers, but it went the wrong side of the post from Liverpool's point of view. Big, big chance.
86 minCHANCE! Liiverpool are starting to put the pressure on the visitors now and Gerrard is the latest to have a go at goal. His strike is straight at Cech, however, and another chance goes begging.
87 minBertrand goes down in a heap after a late tackle from Sturridge. The ref doesn't blow for the foul, however, and Liverpool play on, much to the anger of the Chelsea players, who surround the ref when the ball is eventually cleared out for a corner.
89 minLiverpool are really knocking on the door at the moment, but Chelsea's defence is standing firm. Shelvey works space to shoot on his left foot but Ivanovic gets out to block. Liverpool pump the ball back into the box, but Henderon's header goes harmlessly wide.
90 minCHELSEA SUB: Juan Mata's afternoon is over as he is replaced by Frank Lampard, who will presumably sit in a holding role to firm up the Chelsea midfield.
90 minThere will be six minutes of added time here, still plenty of time for Liverpool to grab an equaliser!
90+1 minSHOT! Gerrard plays a corner short to Jonjo Shelvey, but his effort from the egde of the box is always rising and goes over the bar. Liverpool need to start hitting the target with these chances.
90+3 minSHOT! Another shooting chance for Liverpool, but this one is a tough one. Suarez gets a rebound and manages to squeeze the ball out to Henderson, but the midfielder doesn't have time to control it and he strikes it while still sorting out his feet, sending his shot wide.
90+5 minHenderson tries to thread a ball through to Shelvey, but Ivanovic puts in a fine sliding interception, and that should be just about it for this one.
90+7 minSuarez rescues a point for Liverpool! What drama to finish this match with! Sturridge gets the ball down the right flank and clips a good ball into the box, which finds the head of Suarez who flicks it beyond Cech. Unbelievable drama, and the headlines will be all about Suarez tomorrow, and not all for the right reasons.
5.58pmThat was the last touch of the match and what a finish it was! Suarez should not have been on the pitch to score that goal after biting Ivanovic earlier in the match, but it is just like him to pop up with a last minute equaliser. We saw the best and worst of the Uruguayan, but this good feeling may not last long as I suspect that Suarez will be facing a long ban, seven matches minimum.
6pmRight, that is it from me today. What a dramatic game of football we have just witnessed. Chelsea miss the chance to move thirs in the table after being bitten by Suarez, both figuratively and literally. Be sure to stick around for the match report, reaction and analysis which will all be on site shortly. There will be plenty of reaction to this one I'm sure! From me though, it's goodbye!