Glen Johnson scored a late winner to stun his old club, as Liverpool went level on points with Chelsea after an entertaining victory.
Johnson’s winner came when the game looked certain to finish level, however the right back’s adventuress nature paid dividends, as they beat Chelsea for a third time in a row.
Deservedly Liverpool opened the scoring through the surprise selection Maxi Rodriguez as the Merseyside club dominated the first half. Chelsea levelled early in the second half as Daniel Sturridge couldn’t miss after Florent Malouda’s cross come shot, feel perfectly for the recently capped England international; however as the game was coming to a conclusion Johnson popped up to steal the three points.
Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles both had to settle for a place on the bench as they come up against their former side. Liverpool selected Craig Bellamy and Maxi for the second and first time respectively in the Premier League as Kenny Dalglish started with an attacking line-up.
Juan Mata blew the games first real chance after Malouda did brilliantly to get his cross in. The Frenchman stuck the ball up well to the back post and Mata’s volley, which was probably going wide, was cleared well by Martin Skrtel. With Didier Drogba at the back post, whether Mata was going for goal or attempting to find Drogba is questionable.
A Drogba free-kick went marginally wide of Pepe Reina’s post, with the Spanish goalkeeper confident the ball was never going in.
Luis Suarez blew a great chance to find a team mate as Dirk Kuyt won the ball on the half way line, and after finding Suarez, the Uruguayan, with men over in a four against three attack, could only find David Luiz and the chance was gone; however despite the missed chance, Liverpool were in control as Lucas and Charlie Adam in particular dominating the midfield.
The returning duo of Maxi and Bellamy combined to open the scoring as the former Atletico Madrid man capitalised on a Jon Obi Mikel mistake. The Nigerian lost the ball to Adam who fed Bellamy who played a nice one-two with Suarez before finding Maxi who finished past Cech comfortably.
Liverpool nearly doubled their lead as a Suarez cross was deflected goal wards by Luiz, only just going past the post as it rippled the side netting.
Andre Vilas-Boas made a change at half-time as Sturridge replaced the poor Mikel, which meant Chelsea, changed to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Mata playing off the ineffective Drogba.
Drogba found a bit of space after Johnson failed to win the ball in a 50/50 with the Ivorian; however the striker’s finish was always going over Reina’s goal.
Chelsea come out of the traps the better side and levelled through substitute Sturridge. Malouda ran into the heart of the Liverpool defence and his cross come shot was perfect for the on rushing Sturridge at the back post who couldn’t miss.
Luiz almost turned the game on its head moments after Sturridge’s equaliser, as the Brazilian centre half was only prevented by a fantastic save from Reina who got down brilliantly to save the goal bound header.
At this stage Chelsea were dominate, however for long periods of the game their possession and territorial threat rarely resulted in a clear cut chance.
Liverpool’s two former boys Torres and Meireles both came on for Drogba and Ramires.
Kuyt missed Liverpool’s best chance of the half after sub Jordan Henderson did well to beat two Chelsea defenders before feeding Adam who found Kuyt, however the Dutchman put it wide when well placed on the edge of the area.
Kuyt’s miss was irrelevant shortly after however as the unlikeliest of sources in Johnson finished brilliantly. The former Chelsea man did excellently well to beat Ashley Cole and when one-on-one with Cech, the right back slotted home well beating Terry’s despairing lunge to give Liverpool their second lead of the day.
The late strike ensured Chelsea lost for the third time in four Premier League matches, meaning they trail Manchester City now by an alarming 12 points. Liverpool’s second victory in the capital this season however will only boost their chances of a top four finish for the first time in three years.
Chelsea: Cech 6, Ivanovic 5, Terry 5, Luiz 5, Cole 6, Mikel 4 (Sturridge 7), Ramires 6 (Meireles 5), Lampard 6, Malouda 6, Mata 7, Drogba 5 (Torres 5)
Liverpool: Reina 7, Johnson 7, Skrtel 7, Agger 7, Enrique 7, Lucas 8, Adam 8, Maxi 7 (Downing 6), Bellamy 7 (Henderson 6), Kuyt 7, Suarez 7 (Carroll 5)