Final, 2-0 Chelsea: The referee blows the final whistle. Liverpool suffers defeat against Chelsea.
With late goals in each half, Chelsea denied Liverpool goals, points and a chance to extend its lead atop the Premier League standings. The Reds played well — dominating both possession and territory throughout — but Chelsea punished their rare mistakes with goals.
While Chelsea’s defensive game plan will win few admirers, it was undeniably effective against a rampant Liverpool side. The visitors’ organization and discipline cancelled out the efforts of Liverpool’s attacking stars, and Schwarzer rose to the occasion when called upon by making increasingly spectacular saves in the second half.
The result ended Liverpool’s 11-game winning streak and marks the Reds’ first Premier League defeat in 2014 (their first loss in 17 games). More importantly, it blows the Premier League title race open once again, as Chelsea closes the Reds’ lead to two points with two games to play. If Manchester City wins its two games in hand, it will be tied with Liverpool on points — but it could lead the Reds on goal differential when the games are done.
Liverpool must regroup and travel to Crystal Palace next week. While it lost control of the Premier League title race, it still leads the chasing pack with the finish line in sight.
That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
90th minute +4, 2-0 Chelsea: Willian confirms Chelsea’s victory with goal in second-half stoppage time.
Torres collected Sturridge’s misplaced pass and dribbled 50 yards into the Liverpool half before passing right to Willian, who walked it into the goal.
90th minute +2, 1-0 Chelsea: Suarez drives a right-footed shot on goal, but Schwarzer parries it over the bar.
90th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: The fourth official indicates that there will be four minutes of stoppage time.
Liverpool is desperately seeking a game-tying goal, while Chelsea defends from goal line to goal line.
84th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Torres comes on for Ba and is greeted by a chorus of boos.
81st minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Aspas is coming on for Flanagan, as Rodgers puts another attacker into the fray.
79th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Schwarzer saves Gerrard’s diving header from 15 yards out.
The Liverpool captain ran onto Suarez’s chipped delivery and headed on goal, but it was too close to Schwarzer.
77th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Chelsea is bringing on Cahill to replace Schurrle.
Chelsea might play five at the back, with Cole and Azpilicueta on the flanks and Cahill, Kalas and Ivanovic on the inside.
74th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Schwarzer saves a Gerrard effort once again.
Obi Mikel and Schurrle are down on the field with what looks like cramps, as there is another delay in the game.
68th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Liverpool’s latest foray ends with Schwarzer saving Gerrard’s shot.
Chelsea continues to sit deep in defense, while Liverpool passes and prods around the edge of its penalty area. The visitors’ tactics are frustrating the Reds and their fans, but their pragmatic approach has paid dividends over the first 70 minutes.
61st minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Mignolet matches Schwarzer’s heroics with a diving save of his own.
Schurrle cut inside and shot from distance, but the Liverpool goalkeeper was up to the task.
60th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Willian comes on for Salah, as Chelsea makes its first change.
59th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Allen tries a volley from 25 yards out, but Schwarzer makes a diving save to deny the Welshman his first Liverpool goal.
58th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: Liverpool continues to pin Chelsea back deep in its own half, but the Blues have packed players in the middle of the field, making it more difficult for the Reds.
Sturridge is replacing Lucas, as Liverpool makes its first substitution.
4 - Daniel Sturridge has found the net in 4 of his 5 substitute league appearances for Liverpool, including both this season. Impact.—
(@OptaJoe) April 27, 2014
46th minute, 1-0 Chelsea: The second half is under way. Liverpool is attacking the Kop end.
On April 6, Rodgers’ words of wisdom helped the Reds respond positively after they conceded a goal late in the first half against West Ham. The Liverpool boss has to lift his group once again.
Chelsea ended one of Liverpool’s most impressive streaks in the first half.
25 - Liverpool's Premier League record run of scoring in consecutive first halves comes to end at 25. Smothered.—
(@OptaJoe) April 27, 2014
Halftime, 1-0 Chelsea: The first half comes to an end with visiting Chelsea leading Liverpool by one goal.
Despite dominating the first stanza, Liverpool finds itself behind after Ba capitalized on Gerrard’s error. The Reds controlled the first 40 minutes of the contest, and Chelsea’s attack only came to life with a pair of set pieces towards the end of the half.
Chelsea’s patchwork defense has done its job and contained Liverpool’s high-powered attack so far. Liverpool did well in staying patient with the ball and looking for gaps in Chelsea’s defense, but the Blues showed no intention of breaking despite some nervous moments.
Ba’s goal came via Gerrard’s misfortune. Nothing more. Nothing less. The late strike makes it more likely that Chelsea will continue to bunker without countering in the second half.
Liverpool’s forwards did a lot of interchanging in the first half, which worked to some effect, but Rodgers might add Sturridge to the mix, as the Reds go in search of the tying goal.
45th minute +3, 1-0 Chelsea: Ba scores, giving Chelsea the unexpected lead right before halftime.
Gerrard slipped and fell after making a mistouch deep in the midfield, allowing Ba to take possession break in alone on Mignolet’s goal and slot his shot past the advancing Liverpool goalkeeper.
The goal is Ba’s fifth, and most important, league goal this season.
43rd minute, 0-0: The referee cautions Lampard.
The Chelsea midfielder lunged into a tackle on Sterling from behind.
41st minute, 0-0: Suarez takes a right-footed shot from distance but can’t direct his curling effort on target.
38th minute, 0-0: The referee denies Chelsea’s appeal for a penalty kick.
Replays showed that Salah’s shot from 16 yards out hit Flanagan’s hand.
33rd minute, 0-0: Chelsea’s tactics continue to frustrate Liverpool.
The visitors are defending with nine men in their own half, denying the Reds space in the middle while also covering the wide areas well. They haven’t shown much (any) commitment to the attacking side of game, so the onus will be on Liverpool to unlock Chelsea’s well-organized defense.
25th minute, 0-0: Liverpool remains firmly in control of both possession (by a 75%-25% margin) and territory.
Chelsea is soaking up the Reds’ pressure but looks less than confident in doing so.
21st minute, 0-0: Salah trips Sterling near the sidelines. The infraction earns Salah a place in the referee’s book.
15th minute, 0-0: Liverpool is causing Chelsea to defend desperately deep in its own third, but hasn’t breached Schwarzer’s goal early on.
14th minute, 0-0: Sakho fires a shot well over the crossbar after a goal-mouth scramble.
First, Cole cleared a shot off the goal line. It pinged around the area before coming back to Sakho, who was falling over as he tried to shoot.
11th minute, 0-0: Suarez floats a cross to Coutinho at the far post, but the Brazilian volleys his shot into the side netting.
While Liverpool has enjoyed the early advantage in possession, Coutinho’s effort was the Reds’ first genuine scoring chance.
Eighth minute, 0-0: Mourinho and Gerrard tussle on the sidelines after the Chelsea manager attempts to play the role of ballboy.
Sixth minute, 0-0: Cole steps forward and shoots from 25 yards out, but Mignolet dives and punches it away.
Fifth minute, 0-0: The game is off to a slow start.
Liverpool fans have whistled Schwarzer and Schurrle, accusing the Chelsea duo of time wasting.
First minute, 0-0: The game has kicked off. Liverpool is attacking the Anfield Road end.
Pregame: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is sticking with the starting 11 which blitzed Norwich City a week ago.
Liverpool has scored 58 goals in the first half this season. Rodgers hopes stability and familiarity will help his team add to that club-record tally.
Sterling and Coutinho will support Suarez up front, while Allen, Gerrard and Lucas will battle behind them in the midfield.
Sturridge has recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of last weekend’s game — but he starts on the bench.
Chelsea plays Atletico Madrid in the second leg of its UEFA Champions League semifinal Wednesday, and Mourinho picked his starting 11 with that game in mind. Kalas, 20, makes his first Premier League start, as Mourinho elects to David Luiz and start with Cahill on the bench (despite John Terry’s injury). Lampard, Obi Mikel and Matic will man the midfield. Ba starts ahead of Torres, while Samuel Eto’o and Eden Hazard miss out due to injury.
Meanwhile, Liverpool fans gave the Reds another heroes’ welcome when their team bus arrived at Anfield.
Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 27, 2014
8:35 a.m.: Here are the lineups:
Simon Mignolet (15), goalkeeper
Jon Flanagan (38), left back
Mamadou Sakho (17), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Steven Gerrard (8), midfielder
Joe Allen (24), midfielder
Lucas Leiva (21), midfielder
Philippe Coutinho (10), forward
Raheem Sterling (31), forward
Luis Suarez (7), forward
Brad Jones (1), goalkeeper
Kolo Toure (4), defender
Daniel Agger (5), defender
Aly Cissokho (20), defender
Luis Alberto (6), forward
Iago Aspas (9), striker
Daniel Sturridge (15), striker
Mark Schwarzer (23), goalkeeper
Cesar Azpilicueta (28), right back
Tomas Kalas (33), center back
Branislav Ivanovic (2), center back
Ashley Cole (3), left back
Frank Lampard (8), midfielder
John Obi Mikel (12), midfielder
Nemanja Matic (21), midfielder
Andre Schurrle (14), forward
Mohamed Salah (15), forward
Demba Ba (19), striker
Henrique Hilario (40), goalkeeper
Gary Cahill (24), defender
Nathan Ake (57), defender
Lewis Baker (47), midfielder
Marco van Ginkel (16), midfielder
Willian (22), midfielder
Fernando Torres (9), striker
8:05 a.m. ET: Liverpool is seven points away from glory, but the hardest work remains to be done.
Liverpool hosts Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday in a meeting between the Premier League’s first- and second-placed teams. The outcome of the game could go a long way toward deciding which team will win the championship in this thrilling campaign.
The Reds are riding a wave of good feeling thanks to an 11-game winning streak and an unbeaten run which stretches back to the end of 2013. They can end Chelsea’s title hopes and further their own with a victory.
Chelsea was the last team to record a league victory against Liverpool (back on Dec. 29), and Jose Mourinho will be looking to halt the Reds’ title charge in one of the most highly anticipated games on the schedule.
Sunday’s game kicks off at 9 a.m. Stay right here, as we’ll bring you all the action from Anfield.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com