Liverpool vs Chelsea: The Blues battled for 45 minutes, down a man to secure share of the points in the first Premier League title race six-pointer of the season at Anfield on Saturday.
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Kai Havertz staked the visitors to a lead halfway through the first half, before Reece James was sent off for a handball offense on the goal line. Liverpool equalized from the ensuing penalty, but Jurgen Klopp’s side was massively frustrated as the reigning European champions were simply unbreakable.
Liverpool vs Chelsea final score, stats, results
Goals scored: Liverpool 1 (Salah 45’+4 – PK); Chelsea 1 (Havertz 22′)
Shots: Liverpool 23, Chelsea 6
Shots on target: Liverpool 8, Chelsea 3
Possession: Liverpool 65%, Chelsea 35%
3 things we learned, Liverpool vs Chelsea
1. When dominance doesn’t translate to the scoreboard: For all of Liverpool’s possession (nearly 60 percent) and shots (four, to Chelsea’s zero) prior to the opening goal, it didn’t translate to even one threatening moment, let alone a goal, in the opening 20 minutes. The high press was as active and aggressive as it’s ever been, but Chelsea were largely unmoved by the increased tempo and weathered the storm in crucial moments. Their ability to remain calm and shift between proactive and reactive gears in constantly changing situations is perhaps their greatest gift and their best case for the title.
1a. When a man advantage doesn’t either: The above was written just before the penalty/red card incident, but the point itself reared its head again in the second half, when Chelsea simply kept their eyes forward, adjusted the gameplan and got on with the new (infinitely more difficult) task at hand. The mental wherewithal to face not only one more man on the field, but the 50,000 Liverpool supporters as they grew increasingly agitated and anxious — again, it’s the mark of a champion to achieve something like that.
2. Distaste makes for gripping theater: The game was already teetering on a knife’s edge before James was sent off for a handball on the goal line and Salah pulled Liverpool level. The disagreement over Anthony Taylor’s decision, mixed with the enthusiasm of a Liverpool side re-energized and a dejected Chelsea, caused frustrations to boil to the surface and spill over in the end. Perhaps it’s too soon to say these two sides dislike each other, but they only agree on one thing: a strong distaste for one another.
Man of the Match: Jorginho – Influential and orchestrating before the red card, dogged and determined after. Jorginho has become the heart of Chelsea just the same as N’Golo Kante, who, it should be noted, was subbed off at halftime due to a suspected injury.
Liverpool vs Chelsea recap, highlights
Havertz heads Chelsea ahead
Chelsea, rather quietly, have a side full of fantastic targets on set pieces who also happen to be really talented and skilled with the ball at their feet. Havertz is a tricky midfielder, but he’s rock solid at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and he might only be the third target on a given set piece.
Anyway, his header for the opening goal was jaw-dropping (below video).
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Chelsea get red card; Liverpool get penalty, goal
To say the game changed in the second minute of first-half stoppage time would be putting it lightly. James was sent off for denying a goal by blocking a goal-bound shot with his right arm. It was the correct call, as the current rule (and therein lies the issue) is written.
Salah dispatched the ensuing penalty kick and tempers flared between the two sides as the game had so clearly just undergone a massive momentum shift. Spirited scenes inside Anfield (above video).
Lukaku nearly wins it for Chelsea
In fact, it was Chelsea who had the second half’s best scoring chance, and it was only a bit of brave defending from Joel Matip that kept the sides on level terms (below video).
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) August 28, 2021