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Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea


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Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea F.C.

February 1 2009, Premier League, Anfield, Liverpool

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A horror show from joke-of-a-referee Mike Riley handed Liverpool three crucial points after Frank Lampard was sent off.


Lampard challenged Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso near the half-way line as the hour-mark approached, and despite clearly winning the ball, was given his marching orders by Riley, regardless of the referee being mere feet away from the incident. Replays suggested Lampard was harshly dismissed as he clearly got the ball, and all contact with Alonso was evidently down to the Liverpool man as both plays engaged in a 50-50 ball.

Two late goals from Fernando Torres gave the home side a much-needed win after a series of successive draws, and although Riley's despicable decision turned the game in favour of the hosts, it was Liverpool who showed the more willingness to attack as they looked to close the game on Manchester United; the Premier League's runaway leaders.

The result leaves Chelsea level on points with fourth-placed Aston Villa, and with the two sides meeting on the 21st of February at Villa Park, Luiz Felipe Scolari's side will have to pick themselves up and fast - especially with a league match with Hull and a match against Watford in the FA Cup Fifth Round in the meantime. Though they offered next-to-nothing going forward - thanks to Riley's abysmal decision, Chelsea defended resolutely and were unlucky to be so heavily beaten by the Merseyside outfit.

With Ricardo Carvalho injured, Alex da Costa continued in defence and was imperious throughout. Didier Drogba, so often a thorn in Liverpool's side, was left on the bench as former Reds striker Nicolas Anelka began up front by himself, supported by two-goal hero against Middlesbrough Salomon Kalou, and former Lyon man Florent Malouda.

The first sniff of goal came with just four minutes played, as Lampard's delivery from out wide was inches away from being met by the head of Anelka, but it was little more than a half-chance for the Premier League's top scorer.

Alonso - whose shot at Stamford Bridge that wickedly deflected off of Jose Bosingwa - was first to try his luck from Liverpool's perspective, and but for a strong hand from Petr Cech, would have nestled in the top corner. A routine save for the Czech goalkeeper, but the Chelsea number 1 was forced to palm the ball behind for a fruitless Liverpool corner, which was cleared. Cech was again called into action five minutes later as he got down to block Mascherano's effort. The shot was too close to Cech to seriously trouble him, but Mascherano was keen to stay in the spotlight as he over-zealously challenged Mikel, earning him a yellow card.

Ashley Cole was then ridiculously booked for allegedly blocking off Dirk Kuyt, before Cech saved at the feet of the Dutchman after Gerrard's deflected pass almost played him through. Terry did well to head away a Torres effort from the edge of the area, as Liverpool cranked up the pressure.

Alex had a header that flew over the bar as Chelsea looked to respond, but with half an hour gone, it was evident that Chelsea had set up to avoid defeat rather than look to win the game - a sensible tactic, perhaps, considering Liverpool do always seem to outnumber the opposition when you have the referee acting as a twelfth man. Cech then denied Riera before the half was done, with Ashley Cole poking the rebound out for a corner, somewhat fortuitously, as the ball seemed to hit the England full-back without him knowing too much about it.

Kuyt and Torres both had early efforts in the second half, the former volleying beyond the post after a corner had found its way to him, whilst Torres' stinging shot was blocked brilliantly by Alex. The Brazilian instinctively stuck out a toe to deny the Spaniard, and was enjoying one of the best performances of his Chelsea career so far as the Blues rearguard stood firm.

Then came Riley's main act. Steven Gerrard slides in, feet off the ground with studs showing, and gets away without punishment, despite clearly showing dissent to the referee. Frank Lampard slides in moments later, both feet on the ground with his foot pointing towards the ball as he makes contact.. As he does so, Alonso accidentally kicks Lampard's outstretched boot, and theatrically falls to floor. Frank Lampard is sent off despite Riley being metres away.

Mikel then blocked a couple of shots from Torres as Liverpool turned up the heat. Chelsea, however, were giving nothing away, and countless attacks were denied by the brilliant combination of Cech, Alex and Terry; the former called into action to save Torres' scissor kick from inside the box. Alex then blocked an Alonso rocket which bounced onto the crossbar before being put behind by Cech, but yet the Blues would not be breached.

Cech then pushed away substitute Benayoun's excellent effort as he cut in from out wide, before Anelka and Malouda were sacrificed in favour of Didier Drogba and Deco. Benayoun then hooked a ferocious volley onto the roof of the net with Cech beaten. Surely they wouldn't score another late winner?

They did, and it was Torres who nodded the ball beyond Cech with 90 seconds remaining. Chelsea's players collapsed to the ground as their morale was torn to pieces in front of them. Cech had to react excellently to deny Gerrard's dipping volley, but Torres wrapped up the three points with a second after Benayoun had played the ball into his path.

Riley's horror show was completed when he failed to award Bosingwa a yellow or even a red after blatantly digging the studs of his boots into the back of a Liverpool player, but the game was already won as Chelsea faltered yet again away from home. No wins in four away from Stamford Bridge and a second loss to Liverpool this season. Chelsea's title dream is over.

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The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match award goes to...

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Alex

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Bravo Alex and Cech we should very proud of they performance today. Alex was everywhere on the pitch everytime when Liverpool try score Alex was on the right place in the right time to block shoot :D Kalou in last match scored 2 goals for us but today i saw him maybe 2 times ;/ Chelsea got one small chance to win PL we have to win all games to the end of the season and got hope MU will make some mistake. MU gonna play with Arsenal and Liverpool too so we got chance and we shouldn't WASTE this chance like always !!

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