Liverpool comprehensively dominated Chelsea in every facet in the first leg of the English giants’ Capital One Cup semifinals tie at Anfield on Tuesday, and yet, all Brendan Rodgers’ side has to show for it is an unflattering 1-1 scoreline heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next week.
While the Reds outplayed the Blues in every possible way on Tuesday — 62 percent possession and out-shooting their opponents 19 to two (six to one on target) — Chelsea got on the scoreboard first and, for quite some time, looked as though they might just escape the northwest of England with a one-goal lead.
Eden Hazard opened the scoring in the 18th minute after being fouled by Liverpool defender Emre Can inside Liverpool’s penalty area. The Belgian midfielder stepped up to the penalty spot, sent his compatriot Simon Mignolet one way and calmly guided the ball into the corner of the goal the other way.
Liverpool struggled to break down the deep-lying, resolute Chelsea defense for much of the game. Jose Mourinho’s side was more than happy to soak up pressure in front of the backline and funnel Liverpool attacks into wide areas that resulted in hopeless crosses into the box.
The Reds did broke through in the 59th minute, though, when Raheem Sterling scored a sublime goal that involved a driving run through the heart of the Chelsea midfield, splitting a pair of defenders and unleashing a powerful-but-placed, left-footed shoot that skidded underneath the outstretched paw of Courtois.
Liverpool nearly took the lead themselves seven minutes later when club captain Steven Gerrard clanged a left-footed effort off Courtois’s right-hand post. Alberto Moreno made a surging run up the left side, got to the end line, cut back and played the ball to Gerrard at the top of the 18-yard-box. Gerrard settled the ball with his right foot and wrapped his left around the ball with his second touch, only to see the ball stay inches wide of the post’s inner-half and carom out of play.
The second leg will be played next Tuesday (2:45 pm ET). Away goals count in the Capital One Cup, but only following the completion of extra time, meaning any draw following regular time in the second leg would result in extra time, but only a 1-1 draw in the second leg would send the tie to penalty kicks.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Moreno, Markovic, Coutinho, Sterling
Goal: Sterling (59′)
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Filipe Luis, Matic, Mikel, Willian, Fabregas, Hazard, Diego Costa
Goal: Hazard (19′)