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    Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool Match Report


    Liverpool turned up the pressure on Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho by producing their most emphatic victory of the season against an out-of-sorts home side at Stamford Bridge. It had been billed as a match the Portuguese could ill-afford to lose but two goals from Philippe Coutinho and a late strike by Christian Benteke appear to have left this position hanging by a thread.

    The most worrying aspect of Chelsea's performance was the manor in which his team so easily succumbed to a rejuvinated Liverpool side, having taken the lead through Ramires in the fourth minute. Liverpool never had to be at their best against the Champions but dominated for long periods and cut apart a lacklustre Chelsea team with ease throughout the match.

    The contrast on the touchline could not have been greater, with Jurgen Klopp looking every bit the exciteable, joyful and extrovert boss that the Liverpool fans have come to enjoy as he jumped and punched the air in delight, alongside a dejected-looking Mourinho, who cut a forlorn figure as his side were put to the sword in the second half.



    It was the German's side, however, who were slowest out of the blocks as Chelsea looked hungry early on to give their manager the win he so desperately needed. Their high-tempo start was epitomized by Cesar Azpilicueta, whose eager pressing won his side possession and started the move that ultimately ended with Chelsea taking the lead after four minutes.

    The Spaniard hunted down James Milner to set up an attack that involved Oscar, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa and ended in a goal for Ramires. Azpilicueta's overlapping run was discovered by Costa, with the left-back delivering a right-footed cross that was met firmly by Ramires, who headed past Simon Mignolet. The goal was greeted with a chorus of "Jose Mourinho" around Stamford Bridge, a show of unity that the manager still has their support despite a poor start to the season.

    Chelsea's early dominance was short-lived as Liverpool began to find a foothold in the game after weathering the early storm. Their best chance in regulation time fell to Adam Lallana, who nipped in ahead of Gary Cahill but could only direct James Milner's cross into the hands of Asmir Begovic from 12 yards. It was a much improved performance by Lallana, who has struggled to find the consistency since at £25 million move from Southampton in the summer of 2014.



    With Danny Sturridge and Danny Ings out injured and Christian Benteke only fit enough for the bench, Liverpool started the match without a recognised striker and although they controlled possession throughout the first-half, they were finding chances difficult to come by. Robert Firmino occupied the "false 9" position and was the furthest man forward in an attacking three that included Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho.

    Just as it looked as though Liverpool would go into half-time having controlled the game but trailing 1-0, Coutinho delivered the decisive blow that ultimately steered the game in their favour. He picked up the ball just outside the penalty area, cut inside Ramires and curled a delicate effort into the bottom corner, past the dive of Begovic. It was Coutinho's first goal since scoring the winner against Stoke City on the opening weekend of the season and there was no better time to score it.



    The goal was nothing more than Liverpool deserved, with Chelsea culpable of not pressing home their early advantage when they had their opponents on the backfoot. They allowed Brazilian far too much space to weave his magic in the final third of the pitch, although there was very little that Begovic could do to stop the strike itself. The equalizer didn't come without a hint of controversy, however, with the two minutes of stoppage elapsing long before the ball ended up in Chelsea's net.

    Diego Costa was lucky to stay on the field on the hour mark, kicking out at Martin Skrtel and catching the Liverpool in the midriff when the ball had already gone. The Spaniard has Skrtel to thank for not making more of the incident, opting instead to help the Chelsea striker up to his feet as well as laughing off the incident. If Liverpool were cursing their luck as to how referee Mark Clattenberg missed the incident, they could count themselves fortunate just minutes later.

    As Ramires collected the ball inside his own half and powered past both Emre Can and Lucas Leiva, he was cynically tripped by his Brazilian countryman on the halfway line. Lucas' intervention averted a dangerous attack from developing, with Mamadou Sakho and Skrtel the only defenders back to prevent the midfielder having a clear run on goal. Lucas had already been booked for an earlier trip on Mikel, so could count himself fortunate that Clattenberg allowed him to remain on the field.



    With Chelsea seeking the one piece of inspiration that could steer the match in their favour, it was nearly provided to them by Oscar. The Brazilian caught Lucas in possession and attempted an audacious chip from just five yards inside the Liverpool half, which had to be clawed away by a backtracking Mignolet. It was one of the few chances that the home side created in a second half in which they, for the most part, looked lost for ideas.

    Liverpool were the team who looked most like scoring a winner as the match headed into the final 20 minutes. This was mainly the result of Klopp's positive substitution of bringing on Christian Benteke to replace James Milner and it proved to be a masterstroke. The Belgian international offered his side much more of an outlet than Firmino, and it wasn't long before he was involved in the goal that gave his side the lead.

    As Mamadou Sakho played a lofted pass forward, Benteke headed the ball into the path of Adam Lallana, who guided the ball to Coutinho in space on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area. The Brazilian feigned to shoot but instead came inside Cahill and chipped the ball into the top right-hand corner, past the outstretched hand of Begovic. Replays showed the ball taking the slightest of deflections off the midriff of John Terry on its way into the net.



    It sparked wild celebrations behind the Chelsea goal, with the Liverpool fans about to see their team record their first win over Chelsea in nine attempts. The game was nearly sewn up two minutes later when Emre Can played Alberto Moreno into acres of space on the left-wing but Begovic did well to save the low effort with his feet at the near-post after the Spaniard had run almost the length of the Chelsea half.

    With seven minutes remaining, Benteke hammered the final nail Chelsea's coffin with his fourth goal for the club, which also lead to his side winning by a two-goal margin for the first time this season. Lallana once again was the architect, using himself as a decoy to create space for Benteke, who took the ball away from Terry and calmly slotted low into the bottom left-hand corner past Begovic.

    It was shambolic defending by the home side, with John Terry and Gary Cahill most cuplable in allowing three Liverpool attackers oceans of space. The central defensive duo backed off from Benteke, with the Belgian's strike deflecting off Cahill on its way into the net. The goal rounded off a thoroughly deserved win for Liverpool and a day that Chelsea would rather forget.


    The victory proved to be a tactical masterclass by Klopp, whose side benefited by having an extra man in midfield in order to dominate possession. The German has breathed fresh life into Liverpool's campaign, so much so that the performance prompted a journalist after the match to ask him whether he team can win the title, to which Klopp asked responded: "Are you crazy?" Even if winning the title appears slightly unrealistic, Liverpool fans can feel much more optimistic about their season and finishing in the top four is a strong possibility.

    Klopp's side not only outplayed a lacklustre Chelsea, but did so without having to be at their best. At the heart of the performance was a strong work ethic, a high press that suffocated the opposition into making errors and a defence that is looking more solid as each match passes. In a very short space of time, this formula has led to Liverpool becoming a much tougher team to beat.

    The Reds will also be boosted by the return to the form of Coutinho, who looked every bit the world class "number 10" that he has the potential to become. The Brazilian's return to form lessens the need for Klopp to deploy an out-and-out centre-forward, giving him another option to cope with the spate of injuries sustained by his strikers this season.

    To add further embarrassment to Mourinho's day, cries of "You're getting sacked in the morning" rang out among the travelling support after Liverpool's third goal. It remains to be seen how much damage this result will do, not only to the club's season but the Portuguese's hopes of remaining as manager. It was the ninth defeat he has suffered in 17 matches in all competitions and his side's chances of qualifying for the Champions League now lie in jeopardy unless there is a rapid improvement.



    Whilst Chelsea can count themselves unfortunate that Lucas was not sent off for two bookable offences, they should already have been down to 10 men by this stage had Clattenberg seen Costa kick out at Skrtel. The disappointment that Mourinho expressed after the game at the decision was most likely an attempt to deflect blame away from his players, who looked out-of-sorts and were comprehensively outplayed.

    Previous Mourinho teams would never have allowed the opposition back into the match as easily as this one did after taking an early lead. They were unrecognisable from the side that coasted to the League title last season, lacking both the steel and defensive organisation that the Portuguese prides himself on. The Blues also lacked creativity in midfield, with Hazard and Oscar looking like shadows of their former selves and Cesc Fabregas failing to make an impact when brought on as a substitute.

    They will need to improve if they are to stand a chance of beating Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, with the daunting task of another trip to Stoke City looming three days later. Liverpool are back in action away to Rubin Kazan on Thursday, before they face a tricky clash at Anfield on Sunday against Crystal Palace, who recorded a 3-1 victory in the fixture last season.
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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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