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    Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea Match Report

    Simon Mignolet's second-half penalty save kept alive his side's faint title hopes on a night that neither Liverpool or Chelsea could take full-advantage of slip-ups by their closest rivals.

    The often-maligned Liverpool goalkeeper saved from Diego Costa 14 minutes from time to earn The Reds a hard-earn point and also prevent the visitors from stretching their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

    Georginio Wijnaldum's header just before the hour-mark levelled for a vastly-improved Liverpool team after David Luiz had given the visitors a first-half lead with a quickly-taken free-kick.

    Both teams had chances to win the game after the break but the result finally halts Liverpool's three-match losing run, while it also extends Antonio Conte's side's lead at the top of the Premier League table by a further point.

    Liverpool went into the match hoping to end a disappointing month on a high note after being dumped out of both cup competitions in the space of three days and having failed to win in the league since New Year's Eve.

    In stark contrast to the form of Liverpool was that of their opponents, who were sitting eight points clear at the top of the table having been on a run of 18 victories in the club's last 20 matches.

    The home team were boosted by the return of Sadio Mane, who was named as a substitute after Senegal's exit from the African Cup Of Nations, and Adam Lallana was also available having shaken off a knock.

    In a first-half of few genuine chances, it was Liverpool who dominated possession but they failed to find space in-behind a well-drilled Chelsea back-three and only once managed to test Thibaut Courtois in the visiting goal.

    Liverpool tried to catch The Blues cold with a high-tempo and energetic start to proceedings and the Belgian stopper needed to be alert after 12 minutes to push Georginio Wijnaldum's thunderous effort away at full-stretch.

    As the heavens opened on a rain-sodden Anfield, it was Chelsea who successfully weathered an early Liverpool storm and the visitors duly drew first blood when David Luiz gave his side the lead after 24 minutes.

    Eden Hazard earned Chelsea a free-kick when he was bundled over by Adam Lallana on the edge of the penalty area, allowing David Luiz the chance to try his luck from long-range with one of his trademark set-pieces.

    Nearly thirty yards from goal, the perceptive Brazilian cleverly caught-out an unsuspecting Simon Mignolet, who was still organising his wall, as he
    slotted the ball home via the left-hand post.

    Set-pieces offered Chelsea their most likely route to goal in the first-half and they could have doubled their lead when Willian's inswinging free-kick, which evaded the incoming Nemanja Matic and David Luiz, was pushed wide by Mignolet.

    Liverpool were proving dangerous from set-pieces of their own and the visitors survived a scare when Courtois unconvincingly flapped at Milner's corner but the ball ricocheted off an unsuspecting Joel Matip before falling to safety.

    The home side were able to open the Chelsea defence up with greater regularity in the second-half and Roberto Firmino was the recipient of a guilt-edged chance just after half-time when he failed to hit the target.

    The home side started a counter-attack deep inside their own half, which ended when Nathaniel Clyne teed-up the Brazilian but he horribly miscued his effort despite only having Courtois to beat.

    For all Liverpool's superior possession, they were nearly punished for their profligate finishing minutes later when Victor Moses tried to squeeze the ball past Mignolet but his effort hit the outside of the Belgian's near-post.

    The Reds continued to attack with vigour as the game approached the hour-mark and Jurgen Klopp's side were finally rewarded when Georginio Wijnaldum equalised with his third goal of the season.

    Milner's header across goal was inadvertently diverted into the danger area by Moses and Wijnaldum was on hand to nod the ball down and past Courtois from six yards.

    The Liverpool leveller proved to be the catalyst for Chelsea's most devastating spell of the match and The Blues came close to retaking the lead on three occasions but narrowly fell short each time.

    Diego Costa's first chance came when he was only inches away from reaching Willian's low cross but it was his miss eight minutes later that will prove even more memorable as the dust finally settles on this fixture.

    The Spaniard was fouled inside the penalty area when his run was checked by the dangling leg of Matip, but his resulting penalty was superbly pushed wide by Mignolet to the delight of the goalkeeper's teammates.

    There was to be further drama in the dying minutes as both teams pushes forward for an elusive winner but neither Pedro or Roberto Firmino were able to take advantage when the opportunities presented themselves.

    Pedro steered an effort inches wide from the edge of the penalty area after being found by the marauding N'Golo Kante, while Firmino headed straight at Courtois from eight yards having been teed-up by substitute Sadio Mane's pinpoint cross.

    There were celebrations at the final whistle as Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who was showing no signs of disappointment after his side's late penalty miss, punched the air upon greeting his team's travelling supporters.

    The Italian appeared by far the happier of the two managers, perhaps by virtue of the 10-point lead his side retain over Liverpool, while Arsenal's unexpected 2-1 defeat against Watford meant The Blues also hold a nine-point advantage over second-place Tottenham.

    Chelsea never found their top form at any stage of the encounter but their defensive organisation and big match temperament served then well on the night as they picked up a hard-earned point.

    It represents yet another difficult obstacle that Conte's team have cleared, and they face another one on Saturday lunchtime as Arsenal are the visitors to Stamford Bridge with Chelsea having the chance to open-up a 12-point lead over their opponents.

    Jurgen Klopp's side, meanwhile, waited until the final hours of January to produce their most impressive performance of the month but not even that was enough to earn all three points against such stubborn opponents.

    The German will be left rueing two guilt-edged chances that Roberto Firmino failed to convert, although the night could also have ended with a fourth successive Anfield defeat had it not been for the heroics of Simon Mignolet.

    A point was the very least that Liverpool deserved for their contribution to a high-quality game and Mignolet's late save at least gives The Reds a glimmer of hope of catching their opponents in the title race with 15 games remaining.

    Liverpool will hope this performance is evidence that they have finally turned the corner after a disappointing few weeks as they return to action on Saturday afternoon against the much-improved Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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