Chelsea and Liverpool fight out an exciting 2-2 draw as City extend their lead at the top of the table
Chelsea and Liverpool were each dealt a major blow within the Premier League title race as they contend out an exciting and breathless 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge with Christian Pulisic netting the hosts’ equaliser, a result that leaves leaders Manchester city ten points clear.
In a meeting between the second and third, that was being hyped as crucial within the season, with either side wanting to keep step with Manchester City following their 11-match winning run, it had been Liverpool who had got the initial goal as Sadio Mane took advantage from a Trevoh Chalobah’ error to place the Reds ahead in the ninth minute.
The build-up to the match was dominated by the news of the omission of Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku by manager Thomas Tuchel and though the Blues had created the brighter start, they found themselves 2 down within half an hour when Mohamed Salah beat left wing back Marcos Alonso and finished past Edouard Mendy from a decent angle.
Mateo Kovacic handed Chelsea a lifeline with a spectacular, dipping volley from the sting of the box that rattled off the post and beat Liverpool’ fill-in goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, and U.S. international Pulisic pink-slipped the Blues level on the stroke of half-time with a composed left-footed end to bring a frantic gap amount to a close.
“It was an implausible 1st half,” Pulisic told the BBC when the match. “You feel after we tend to get the momentum and obtain back 2-2 it’ a touch frustrating to not get the winner, however, most likely a good end in the end.”
Liverpool, who were handling key absences and were while not manager Jurgen Klopp, additionally as Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip, for the visit to Stamford Bridge after suspected positive COVID-19 tests, had the higher of the early second-half probabilities and Mendy made a flying save to stay out Salah’ lob.
It had been Chelsea who finished on top, however, with Kelleher denying Pulisic’ half-volley from shut varies whereas Antonio Rudiger additionally headed wide from a corner.
The result handed a large boost to City’ chances of defending their Premier League title and leaves spirit Guardiola’ aspect ten points further from second-placed Chelsea and eleven prior to third-placed city, though the Reds have a game in hand.
Liverpool will play their next 2 Premier League against Crystal Palace and Brentford with Salah and Mane not being available as they head to the Africa Cup of Nations. The forwards were each crucial to their quick start underneath assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders, though Mane was maybe lucky to not get a red card within simply six seconds once he caught Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta along with his arm when difficult for a high ball.
“A clear red,” Azpilicueta aforementioned afterwards. “I don’t mind if it’s 5 seconds into the sport it is a red. I don’t understand, we’ve got had these quiet selections the opposite day. it’s a transparent red card. we tend to have gotten these decisions and it will amendment the method of the game.”
We gave it everything. 👊 pic.twitter.com/hMhhKCy0XU
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 2, 2022
It set the tone for a frantic gap in the contest. Liverpool skint through Mane following Chalobah’ obstinate header, with Rudiger doing enough to challenge as he looked to convert the cut-back from within the box.
The returning Kai Havertz then forced river Alexander-Arnold into a blunder however the metropolis right-back was bailed out by substitute goalkeeper Kelleher, who saved at the feet of Mason Mount.
Liverpool was a lot of remorseless moments later, however, because the guests struck the gap goal. Mane pounced on Chalobah’ mistake as the defender ducked to go a low ball, with Senegal forward skipping past Mendy before firing an end past Azpilicueta.
Chelsea, who had created the brighter start, remained on the front foot and Alonso had 2 chances at the rear post. Liverpool’ threat came on the break and Mendy was forced into a save to deny worship when he was competing through on goal, though the Egyptian was a yard offside.
However, Salah wouldn’t be denied for long and therefore the Premier League’s prime scorer got his sixteenth goal of the season within the twenty-sixth minute. He raced to get a through ball from Alexander-Arnold before feinting around the outside of choreographer and tucking an end past Mendy at his close post to double Liverpool’ lead once more his former team.
Salah raced clear again after a first-time pass from Alexander-Arnold however Chalobah did enough to slip in before Azpilicueta blocked his shot as he hunted for the way corner.
In an exceedingly breathless initial half, there was still time for a spectacular Chelsea comeback because the hosts struck doubly in four minutes at the top of the gap period.
When Kelleher punched a Chelsea free-kick clear, Kovacic created an excellent piece of technology to send a first-time volley unmitigated off the post and into the rear of the net from twenty yards to allow the house fans hope.
And the roof virtually came off Stamford Bridge once Pulisic tucked a beautiful end past Kelleher to draw Chelsea level in superimposed time when N’Golo Kante had competed for the USMNT star through on goal.
Diogo Jota and Mane are vulnerable after the part runs in behind Chelsea’ high line, though the offsides flag was informed each occasion before Mendy created a shocking save to deny worship what would be a fantastic second because the contest continuing to be played out at an exhilarating pace.
Pulisic was caught out by Jota as he tried to handle a bouncing ball and with Mendy off his line, worship looked to beat the goalkeeper from thirty yards. Mendy scampered back to create a wonderful reaching stop before he was known as into action once more to stay out a fierce drive from international mate Mane.
The 23-year-old Kelleher replied with a natural save to keep out Pulisic’ rising half-volley from shut range, though the goalkeeper would be crushed had the Yankee found the house to either aspect of him.
It capped an ideal weekend for leaders City who left till late to defeat 10-man Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.
“It could be a massive gap,” Liverpool’ Virgil van Dijk said. “They [City] have the title perhaps to lose at the instant however something will happen still. we’ve got been there and given it away, therefore anything is possible. we have a tendency to target ourselves.
“If you’re 2-0 up you don’t need to concede that near to half time, offer them the momentum to induce back to the game, it happened — an incredible strike, you have to offer [Kovacic] credit. that offers them momentum and that they score the second.
Virgil van Dijk detailed the disappointment Liverpool felt at ceding a two-goal lead in our 2-2 draw at Chelsea.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 2, 2022