30th September, 2018.
Chelsea F.C. were cruising to a famous victory in their Premiership match against Liverpool F.C. yesterday at the Stamford until the 89th minute when an unexpected goal from an equally unexpected player brought all of their afternoon’s efforts to a painful conclusion with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.
The goal was scored by – wait for the name – Daniel Sturridge! That is a player that can only aptly be described as one coming back from the dead with the way his career had gone downhill for quite sometime now.
Interestingly, the player was introduced into the game only in the 86th minute and three minutes later, he had turned an unlikely hero for the visiting team.
Daniel Sturridge proved to be the saviour for the Merseysiders who were on the verge of losing their unbeaten record in this season’s proceedings in the league. It was going to be worse than that as they would have lost two consecutive matches to Chelsea in a space of some four days both at home and away.
After knocking Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup earlier in the week and inflicted their first defeat of the season, Chelsea was bent on repeating the feat in the Premier League and were well on their way to doing so when Eden Hazard scored their first and eventually only goal in the 25th minute of a pulsating game.
The game itself had started on an attacking note from both teams as expected from everyone as the ball was moving from one end of the pitch very quickly for large portions of the contest, and both sides created a number of chances.
However, the Liverpool attack lacked their usual sharpness, their first touch was uncharacteristically poor and same went for their finishing. Salah and Mane were the main culprits as they sent several shots from reasonably good positions far off target.
Chelsea on the other hand were much better organised in the attack as gave the Liverpool defence a lot of work to do with Giroud who constantly did battle against Gomez and van Dijk, as Hazard drifted across the front line with a lot of freedom, while Willian often looked to run in behind and make use of a pass from deep.
The deadlock was broken in the 25th minute of the game as Hazard combined beautifully with Kovačić and darted in behind Alexander-Arnold. The Croatian midfielder released him with a great pass. Gomez tried to save the situation, but Hazard’s pace was simply too much for the young centre-back and his finish was fantastic, at a full run, low into the far corner, past Alisson and into the net.
It was almost two a few moments later as Jorginho targeted Giroud with a cross but Gomez was on hand this time around to clear the ball into safety.
Liverpool was not to be outdone as they pressed for an equalizer and almost got one when Firmino produced a clever pass for Salah who ran past Alonso and around Kepa, before seeing his shot cleared of the very line by a vigilant Rudiger.
The game was very much the same impressive attacking one also in the second half as both teams produced fantastic display of attractive football.
However, it was Chelsea that got one of the best chances as Hazard came face to face with Allison in goal for Liverpool only for the goalkeeper to thwart his effort.
Referee Andre Marriner had awarded a free kick in Chelsea’s half, and Kante cunningly took it while the Liverpool players were still busy protesting it. Kante sent Hazard through with a very accurate pass, and the striker found himself free, going one-on-one with Alisson. However, the vigilant goalkeeper came out, read Hazard’s intention and saved his shot.
Both teams made some changes as the game progressed and these brought more chances and near misses but then the very last substitution proved to be decisive as Daniel Sturridge was brought into the game to replace Milner with four minutes to go in the match.
Then came the moment of salvation for Liverpool in the 89th minute. The three minutes old striker got the ball some 25 yards out and decided to take matters into his own hands as he calmly set himself up and hit a curled shot into the far top corner, out of the reach of Kepa who was at full flight, and into the net, right in front of the surprised supporters of the home team. It was a sight they would not want to see again for sure.
While the time and manner in which Liverpool scored the equaliser may have been painful for Chelsea, the result was a fair one as far the exchanges went in the game. It is however a fact that Chelsea had a slight edge generally in the match.
This result means that Liverpool failed to win a Premier League game for the first time this season and they’ve now conceded the top spot in the table to title-holders Manchester City.
Coincidentally, Manchester City are slated to visit Liverpool next week in a match that is similar in nature to the one just played at the Stamford Bridge as far table position is concerned.