Liverpool 2 — 0 Chelsea
LIVERPOOL exorcised the ghosts of 2014 with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea to keep their title charge on track yesterday.
The Reds regained top spot from Manchester City, who won at Crystal Palace earlier in the day, thanks to goals from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Jurgen Klopp’s men lead by two points — having played a game more than City — despite this being, on paper, the toughest fixture remaining for them.
The last time Liverpool were in a title race, five years ago, they were derailed by Chelsea in a match best remembered for Steven Gerrard’s fateful slip that led to a Blues goal.
But there was no danger of a repeat as Maurizio Sarri’s side were woeful at times in their continued pursuit of a top-four place.
A manic couple of minutes saw the game won by the home side. Salah nicked the ball off Emerson Palmieri deep in his own penalty area and Jordan Henderson seized on the mistake to clip a cross to the far post, where the unmarked Mane headed home his 18th Premier League goal of the season. Emerson then stood off Salah as he rifled an unstoppable shot into the top corner. It was more than enough to see off Chelsea.
Job done, it seemed. But Eden Hazard had other ideas and hit a post after beating Alisson while later firing a close-range shot straight at the goalkeeper.
The hosts threatened to run riot after that. Roberto Firmino drilled a low shot wide but there was almost a ‘Gerrard moment’ after all as Andy Robertson slipped on halfway but Gonzalo Higuain was quickly crowded out by defenders.
It really was a comprehensive victory in the end as Liverpool went on to be clear winners with the Blues finishing well beaten. Nerves, what nerves?
■ 66 —Goals in all competitions for Mohamed Salah since the start of last season, more than any other Premier League player
■ JURGEN KLOPP said Mohamed Salah’s goal was ‘brilliant in all departments’. The Reds boss said: ‘The control, first touch, going inside, the movements around to give him a little bit of space — it was a fantastic goal.’ Salah added: ‘Hendo [Jordan Henderson] did a great job and was part of the goal.’