A late equaliser from Christian Benteke prevented Chelsea from taking a win at Anfield. The Blues had been leading 1-0 thanks to a wonderful goal from Eden Hazard, but their strong defensive display was broken late on. The result does little to the table, but it does show that the Chelsea of old are still there. Somewhere. That at least bodes well for next season.
Guus Hiddink made plenty of changes following the defeat at Sunderland on Saturday. Thibaut Courtois wasn’t in the squad after illness, so Asmir Begovic replaced him. Bertrand Traore came in up front, while John Obi Mikel moved to centre-half to replace the suspended John Terry. The Blues bench was packed out with young academy stars.
With so many changes being made, it was easy to be wary about the Blues’ chances going into this one. The makeshift back four in play wasn’t one that looked like keeping a clean sheet. It didn’t help that Liverpool were coming in to this game in fine form, and they made the best start of the two sides here.
Out of nowhere, the Blues were in front though. They had possession in the Reds’ final third, but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Hazard wriggled around, evading players and playing a one-two with Traore. He then started his move towards goal, jinking past a few defenders. Suddenly, he had space in the box, and the Belgian fired home to make it 1-0.
The Blues went in to the half-time break with a lead, something few in the ground saw coming. Given how the team have done this season, most expected the scoreline to change pretty soon. Jurgen Klopp had his side fired up for the second half, leaving Hiddink’s men camped in their own half.
Begovic was called upon to make a few good saves, as the Chelsea rearguard were pushed to their limits. The goalkeeper did look shaky on crosses, however. That came back to hurt him late on in the game, as Liverpool got level in the 92nd minute of the game.
A high cross from the left wing saw the Bosnian flap at the ball, and he palmed the ball straight in to the path of Benteke. The Belgian forward was likely playing his last few minutes at Anfield for the Reds, and he signed off by heading in from six yards. That kept a 10 point margin between these two teams.
Liverpool now go into the final day with an outside chance of making Europe. They’ll be pleased with this clash, as it was a good warm up ahead of the Europa League final. As for Chelsea, this was a display that had many elements of what made the team great. Hazard was brilliant throughout, and the entire team worked to defend as a unit. Pleasing signs for Antonio Conte, as he has something here to work with.
LCN Man of the Match: Eden Hazard