Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea Match Report

22 Apr

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Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea Match Report

 

Luis Suarez stole the headlines on Rafael Benitez’s return to Anfield with a last gasp equaliser 6 minutes into injury-time. But unfortunately it wasn’t his late goal that grabbed the headlines, but his bite on Chelsea defender Ivanovic which the match officials missed. Oscar headed Chelsea into the lead before Liverpool substitute Sturridge levelled in the second half. But moments later a Suarez handball allowed Hazard to convert a penalty to restore the visitors’ lead before Suarez’s last gasp headed equaliser.

 

The Team

 

Brendan Rodgers made one change from the side that drew 0-0 at Reading last week, with Stewart Downing returning to the side in place of Daniel Sturridge who dropped to the bench. Reina kept goal with Johnson, Carragher, Agger and Enrique the defence in front of him. Coutinho, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson and Downing made up the midfield with Suarez in attack.

 

The Match

 

The pre-match build up was concentrated on the return of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez who is still a big favourite at Anfield. Benitez also laid a floral tribute at the Hillsborough memorial prior to the match in tribute to the 96. A minute’s applause was also performed prior to kick-off in respect of Hillsborough Campaigner Anne Williams who died last Thursday and for the victims of the last week’s Boston Marathon.

 

After all the emotion prior to kick-off, the match started very flat with not a lot happening in the early stages. The first chance fell to former Chelsea player Glen Johnson, but he could only toe-poke an effort into the hoardings.

 

Former Kop favourite Torres was thwarted by a diving interception from Enrique as Chelsea started to settle into the match. The first quarter of the match was very laboured without any goal mouth action until Oscar headed past Reina at a corner kick at the near post after losing the Liverpool defence.

 

Three minutes later David Luiz fired in a dipping free-kick which Reina spilled only to recover just in time before the ball crossed the line. Torres then earned himself a booking for an elbow into the face of Carragher, before Suarez smashed a shot at goal but Cech made a good save at his near post.

 

Liverpool’s poor first half performance resulted in Rodgers making a change at half-time with Sturridge replacing Coutinho, and Sturridge made an instant impact with a great run before setting up Gerrard whose low shot was brilliantly saved by the left foot of Cech.

 

Seconds later Sturridge let fly from 25 yards only to be denied by the post with Cech beaten. The former Chelsea man had changed the match completely and energised Liverpool’s performance.

 

Then Sturridge levelled the match from close range after a delicious curling cross from Suarez sending the Kop wild with delight. But the celebrations were short lived as 4 minutes later Chelsea were awarded a penalty kick when referee Kevin Friend noticed a handball by Suarez in the Liverpool box.

 

Hazard converted the resulting spot-kick sending Reina the wrong way and giving the visitors the lead again. Liverpool seemed to have the wind taken out of their sails by the loss of the goal and struggled to create chances as the game became more nasty with a few unsavoury incidents as Carragher became involved with a running battle with Torres, and Sturridge was lucky to escape a red card after a nasty challenge on Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand.

 

But the bite by Suarez was obviously the worst incident, although missed by match officials at the time, the incident was witnessed by replays shown to TV viewers.

 

Rodgers replaced Downing with Shelvey as time started to run out on Liverpool and he should have made himself a hero seconds after coming on when Sturridge presented him with a golden opportunity to equalise, but the youngster fired into the side-netting.

 

Chelsea looked to have taken all 3 points after surviving the additional 6 minutes shown by the fourth official but in extra added time Suarez headed past Cech from a Sturridge cross with last action of the match sending the Kop wild with delight and earning Liverpool a deserved point.

 

Summary

 

Rodgers was wrong leaving Sturridge out and he proved that with his second half performance. The first half was one of the worst performances from Liverpool this season as they showed no energy and cohesion and constantly gave the ball away as they surrendered possession to Chelsea. The second half was far better and it was really down to Sturridge who ignited the team, although hopefully a few choice half-time words from Rodgers may have helped too.

 

But the match and the score pales into significance as all the talk will be about Suarez biting Ivanovic and that is sad. But the incident was really disgusting and as unsavoury an incident as you will see in football and there is no defending that type of behaviour. Suarez has to be, and will be punished. But Liverpool can’t be expected to sack or sell him without a replacement of his calibre, which will not be easy to find.

 

Suarez should be given help by mental health professionals as he obviously has a problem which could happen again if not treated. He has committed this crime in the past and it could very easily happen again if not treated. He is a terrific player and like other great players like Cantona and Zidane they have a self-destruct button that can be triggered at any time.

 

Liverpool and Suarez did the right thing by issuing an apology and contacting Ivanovic, who showed remarkable restraint and professionalism to continue playing in a concentrated fashion after the incident and also for accepting Suarez’s apology. Liverpool have reportedly fined Suarez for his behaviour and state that they will continue to support their player and they will wait to see what punishment the FA will decide upon.

 

 

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