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    Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool Match Report

    Chelsea kept alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League after claiming a narrow victory against top-four rivals Liverpool.

    Olivier Giroud's first-half header proved to be the difference between the two sides in a closely-fought match, which The Blues deservedly edged despite their opponents having 68 per cent of the overall possession

    The former Arsenal striker rose unchallenged to head a floated cross from Victor Moses into the top-corner of the goal, with Loris Karius reduced to being a spectator as he watched the ball sail past him.

    It was the visitors who were the brighter team in the opening 30 minutes, however, but neither Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane were able to find a way past the impressive Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal.

    Brazilian forward Firmino tried to catch Courtois out with a first-time strike from a tight angle in the opening three minutes, while Mane attempted a left-footed piledriver from over 20 yards that was superbly saved by the Belgian at full-stretch.

    The Chelsea goalkeeper then denied Mane on two occasions in the space of a few seconds, firstly as he dived to his left to prevent an effort from curling inside the far-corner and then when some routine handling was required from the follow-up strike.

    The home team created several chances after weathering Liverpool's early storm, with Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas going close either side of Giroud's 32nd-minute goal which proved to be the difference between the teams.

    Wing-back Alonso tried his luck from 25 yards but his effort was comfortably held by a grateful Karius, while a cross-cum-shot by Cesc Fabregas fizzed agonisingly past the far-post with no blue shirt able to turn the ball home.

    Chelsea also looked the team most likely to score immediately after the break as Moses fired a low cross towards the back-post that somehow managed to evade the incoming pair of Alonso and Giroud.

    A mazy dribble and strike from Eden Hazard then required Karius to make a smart save at his near-post, while an offside Antonio Rudiger headed home the resulting corner from close-range but the effort was disallowed.

    The home side tried desperately hard to find the elusive second goal in order to avoid a nail-biting finish, with Alonso inches away from converting a spectacular volley as the ball whistled narrowly past the far-post.

    Chelsea nervously retreated in the final 10 minutes, as they tried to nullify a late Liverpool onslaught, but they managed to keep their clean sheet intact through a combination of luck and some steely determination.

    Cesar Azpilicueta was fortunate that his vital interception from a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross landed straight into the hands of a grateful Courtois, while Dominic Solanke headed over from close-range in the final seconds of the game.

    The victory had brought Chelsea to within three points of third-place Liverpool ahead of a vital game in hand against Huddersfield on Wednesday night, with Tottenham only two points above Antonio Conte's fifth-place side.

    However, a 1-1 draw against The Terriers in midweek has now given Chelsea an uphill task on the final day of the season, with the club now needing to beat Newcastle on Sunday in order to finish in the top-four.

    The Blues would also require Liverpool to lose at home to Brighton if they are to overtake Jurgen Klopp's team in the table, while they cannot now finish above Spurs after the North London side beat Newcastle in midweek.

    A point for The Reds on Sunday would secure back-to-back top-four finishes for the first time since the 2008-09 season, thereby reducing the pressure on the club ahead of the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26.
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    Item Reviewed: Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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