The deadly combination of luck, magic, focus and determination produced Liverpool’s finest win of the 2015-16 season.
Liverpool defeated Chelsea 3-1 on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, giving Jurgen Klopp his first Premier League win as manager and heaping further misery on his Chelsea counterpart, Jose Mourinho.
Philippe Coutinho scored in each half to overturn the early lead Ramires had given Chelsea. Christian Benteke then notched Liverpool’s third goal on a day the Reds won’t soon forget.
The win drew Liverpool closer to its rivals for a top-four finish, and the manner of victory suggests the Reds will remain in the reckoning for a coveted spot in the UEFA Champions League until the end of the campaign.
Liverpool and Chelsea have endured slow starts to the season. Both sets of fans are hoping for a revival, and Ramires’ fourth-minute goal gave the appearance Chelsea’s would begin on home soil, while Liverpool’s would slow in West London. Ramires darted into Liverpool’s penalty area and headed Cesar Azpilicueta’s deflected cross past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet before defender Alberto Moreno could react.
Liverpool paid a heavy price for its slow start, but the Klopp effect prevented it from being too much. His organized group stuck to their game plan, seized the initiative and held it tight for the rest of the half. Meanwhile, Mourinho’s Blues willingly ceded possession and territory to the visitors.
Chelsea’s strategy might have paid off had Coutinho not added drama and stardust to a contest that was largely mundane up to that point. Coutinho shimmied past Ramires and curled a left-footed shot past the diving Asmir Begovic to spectacularly tie the game on the stroke of halftime.
The bravest players who were most willing to bear the responsibility of leading their team to victory ultimately would determine the game’s outcome. Chelsea players wear the golden Premier League logo on their sleeves, signifying their status as defending champions, but Liverpool has more game-winners on the field at this moment in time.
The simmer started to boil when Oscar attempted to beat Mignolet with a lobbed effort from around 45 yards out in the 71st minute. Mignolet scampered backward and parried the shot away.
Coutinhho tried his luck and reaped the rewards in the 75th minute when he collected a knockdown from Benteke and shot from just inside Chelsea’s area. The Brazilian’s game-winning shot deflected off Chelsea captain John Terry and floated past Begovic.
The ball-in-shirt celebration Coutinho performed after his first goal suggests his wife Aine is pregnant again. After a barren spell that has run since Aug. 7, Coutinho, 23, once again demonstrated his emergence as Liverpool’s attacking spark-plug with his man-of-the-match display.
The substitutes Klopp and Mourinho used added further evidence to the power shift that has taken place between Liverpool and Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas and Kenedy made little impact after entering in the 59th and 70th minutes, respectively. Benteke came on in the 65th minute and scored his second goal in as many games 18 minutes later.
Benteke’s shot deflected off a sliding defender, but it had a good chance of beating Begovic without the help. The Belgian wasn’t healthy enough to play 90 minutes, but he certainly was key to the Reds overrunning Chelsea by the time the hour-and-a-half of action was through.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Dunham/The Associated Press