Premier League Highlights: Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea

Mohamed Salah scored a stunning strike from the outside the box, while Sadio Mane scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win for Liverpool against Chelsea.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring for Liverpool with a header in the 51st minute.   -  Getty Images

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's  live commentary and updates of the Premier League title-defining clash between Liverpool and Chelsea being played at Anfield.

FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 2-0 CHELSEA| Liverpool goes to the top of the table with 85 points from 34 games above Manchester City which is on 83 points after its 3-1 win against Crystal Palace. However, Guardiola's men have a game in hand. Klopp's side were expected to show some nerves and there were few with Eden Hazard buzzing menacingly in the final third. However, the Reds made the most of their chances and were patient in defending. Chelsea stays fourth with 66 points, two above Manchester United in fifth.

90+2' Azpilicueta tries to cross to Higuain in the centre, but Van Dijk anticipates it well to head away to safety.

89' CLOSE! Sadio Mane bulldozes down the left flank beating Jorginho and Christensen to unleash a ferocious shot which stings Kepa's hands. Mohamed Salah comes off to a standing ovation from the home crowd to be substituted by Xherdan Shaqiri.

87' The Kop has grown in voice again as Liverpool goes in search of a third one. Van Dijk hits a Xabi Alonso-ish diagonal ball from the back for Mane to chase. However, Kepa reaches the ball first to clear the danger.

85' OOPS! Andy Robertson slips near the half-line bringing back the memories of Steven Gerrard's infamous 'title-slip' in 2014. Gonzalo Higuain wins the ball, but he is no Demba Ba and Fabinho tracks back to recover the ball.

81' If the scoreline stays this way, Liverpool goes to the top of the table with 85 points above Manchester City. Salah reaches the final third but Emerson overtakes him to clear the danger.

80' The game has had many heart-stopping moments, but Liverpool has looked the more confident side. Chelsea wins a corner at the other end, but Willian's delivery lacked direction and is easily cleared away.

79' Liverpool wins back-to-back corners. Robertson's second ball reaches Firmino who shoots at the far post. But Kepa gets down quickly to stop the ball. Liverpool looks more comfortable with every passing minute.

78' Azpilicueta is furious at the referee as he feels that he has been pushed by Mane. But the referee shrugs off his demands.

76' The Kop booes Ross Barkley, who was an Everton player previously. Henderson makes way for James Milner and passes on the armband to the latter.

74' Henderson is given the task to cut a cross from the byline to Mane after being played on by Firmino, but the Reds captain overhits it and Chelsea has a throw-in.

71' Alexander-Arnold and Henderson showcase telepathic understanding as the Liverpool captain plays two crosses from Chelsea spillovers which the fullback brings down perfectly. He finds space inside the box and shoots, but it is straight down the throat of Kepa.

69' Hazard gets on the end of a Jorginho diagonal-pass and beats Alexander-Arnold inside the box. He sends a cross across the face off the goal, but Willian is cut out by Fabinho before he could collect the ball.

66' The game has kicked into top gear after the first goal from Mane. Salah fizzes past Azpilicueta on the right and shoots at the goal. Kepa narrows the angle immediately and makes a low save to keep it out.

63' Gonzalo Higuain is in a one-on-one battle with Van Dijk at the near post, the Argentinian does a tame turn and is robbed off the ball immediately. He should've done much better there.

61' ANOTHER NARROW CHANCE!  The game is not over yet, Hazard is able to get through again with the goal gaping at him. But Van Dijk manages to just clear the danger. Liverpool defence is in dilemma now.

59' OFF THE POST! Eden Hazard escapes the off-side trap to bring down a long-ball with a feather first touch and finds himself  one-on-one with Alisson. His strike agonizingly hits the woodwork. Keita dozed off on the right side allowing Hazard to reach the end of the cross.

58' Firmino is played on the right by Mane. The Brazilian tries to squeeze the ball through from  difficult angle and misses narrowly.

54' STUNNING FROM SALAH! That strike has class written all over it. Mo Salah cuts in from the right wing to bring the ball on to his preferred left foot, skips past Azpilicueta and unleashes a thunderbolt from outside the box. Kepa is helpless to stop it as the ball flies into the far post. Unbelievable strike!

51' MANE SCORES! Salah, Firmino exchange passes on the right side as Salah passes it to Henderson. The Reds captain near the byline and plays a delightful chip towards the far post for Sadio Mane to head into an unguarded net, sending the crowd into raptures. LIVERPOOL 1-0 CHELSEA

49' Alexander-Arnold plays a cross from the right, to Mane at the near post. But Luiz reads it well and heads it to safety.

46' Here we go again!  Liverpool tries to go forward but the Chelsea box is more crowded than it was in the first half.

HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-0 CHELSEA| Both the teams have been good on the counter but were unable to find an opening either. Salah is buzzing menacingly on the right flank but has lacked the killer pass to find an opening. As Jurgen Klopp has predicted before the game, Hazard is looking a world beater with his off-the-ball running and dribbling. The Belgian has run Trent Alexander-Arnold ragged, but lacked support from his teammates to inflict any damage. There is much work to do for both the sides in the second half.

45+2' Fabinho has been a weak link in the defence for Liverpool. He is harried away by Kante and Chelsea get to the final-third again. Van Dijk manages to clear it.

45' A looping freekick by Alexander-Arnold reaches a Liverpool head inside the box, but Matip's header lacked sting and has been cleared away by the Chelsea defence.

44' Yellow Card for Azpilicueta. Sadio Mane is brought down by the Spaniard on the left and rightly shown the card.

43' Christensen is put under pressure by Keita and forces the centre-back to play a nervy pass back to Kepa. Now Liverpool has a break as Robertson sprints down the left flank, but Azpilicueta is there to deal with the danger.

40' Substitution - Antonio Rudiger is helped off the pitch by the team doctors. Andreas Christensen comes on for him.

38' WIDE! Salah at it again. The Egyptian dances down the left to square a pass to Mane, who curls a shot at the near post, but the ball loops wide off the woodwork.

37' Azpilicueta wins the ball near the half-line and plays it to Hazard, who is left with acres of space in the middle. The move is foiled by Fabinho who wins the ball back from the Belgian.

34' Hazard and Willian combine to provide Loftus-Cheek with a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box. The England international is quickly surrounded by a four red shirts and the danger is averted.

32' Salah has been liverwire down the right flank. His biggest challenger has been David Luiz who has been impressive so far. Salah takes out two defenders but is unable to win the duel against Luiz.

30' SHOT! What a chance that was for Chelsea. Luiz puts Willian through to the goal with an excellent ball from behind. The Brazilian winger skips past Van Dijk and Robertson but shoots wide off the post.

29' Mane chests down a cross on the left side and passes it to Robertson who crosses it across the face of the goal. Rudiger is in the way and heads it to safety.

25'  CLOSE! Fabinho pings a delightful ball from the deep and Salah heads a rolling-ball in the path of Henderson is who is unable to keep his shot down as the ball flies over the bar safely.

23' Hudson-Odoi is unable to reach a cross by Kante and Liverpool breaks away. Robertson gets to the byline and cuts a pass back to Mane, whose poor first touch lets the ball roll away for a goal-kick.

21' Liverpool tries a long-ball over the Chelsea defence and it seems that Sadio Mane had clipped Antonio Rudiger in an attempt to get on the end of it.

20' First shot on goal for Chelsea. Hazard is on-side as he collects Willian's through-ball on the left. He beats Alexandar-Arnold, but his shot is straight at Alisson.

19' SHOT! Naby Keita finds himself with acres of space on the left. He takes an out-foot shot which Kepa is able to collect easily.

18' Hazard goes down on the edge of the box after a tackle from behind by Joel Matip. The referee says play-on.

16' Salah takes a shot after a one-two with Keita inside the box, but Luiz is in place to block the shot.

14' Salah goes down near the byline after he takes out Willian on the right and is tackled by David Luiz inside the box. The Egyptian goes down but it is a late reaction from him and a goal-kick is given to Chelsea.

12' Hudson-Odoi runs down the left channel and hits a cross to Willian at the other end. However, the ball had too much power behind it and is away for a Liverpool throw-in.

10' Hazard is hacked down near the half-line by Fabinho as Azpilicueta asks the referee for a booking, the referee waves off the appeal as the tackle is clean. Hazard limps for a moment but is back to running again.

6' SHOT! Salah drifts on the right to volley a Sadio Mane cross from the left. But no real power behind it.

1' KICK-OFF! Liverpool begins the proceedings from right to left. Azpilicueta is put under pressure by Firmino on the left side but the Chelsea defender manages to avert the danger.

- The Kop is absolutely rocking as they fans sing a spine-tingling rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone"  followed by a two-minute silence in the memory of the 96 lives lost in the Hillsborough disaster 30 years ago.

- Just few more minutes to kickoff and the player take to the pitch at Anfield. How will Sarri and his travelling Blues fare? Just few more minutes away.

James Milner - " think we have what it takes. You have seen how we've improved over the past few years. You look at times this season when we have perhaps not played so well but still got results. We have great determination to keep going when things are not going well. So, it is all there – the quality is there – and it's a young team as well."

Liverpool faces arguably its toughest remaining test in the Premier League as in-form Chelsea visits Anfield for a mouth-watering clash.

The stats seem to favour Liverpool as things stand. In what is set to be the closest finish since the 2013/14 season, no team has lost the title since leading the EPL table on April 1st. Unless they let it slip, of course!

Remember how Steven Gerrard roared “We don't let this slip” and ironically went on to slip, allowing Demba Ba to score on that April afternoon in 2014? That cost Liverpool the title and was also the last time a team lost while leading the table in the penultimate month of the league. Oh and guess who went on to lift the title that year? Manchester City. This is an absolute must-win clash for Klopp's men!

Line-ups

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Henderson; Mane, Salah, Firmino

 

Chelsea (4-3-3)

Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Hazard, Wilian

Match preview

Liverpool has just five games left in its quest for a first top-flight title in 29 years, the first of which comes against Chelsea on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1 last week thanks to goals from Naby Keita, Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson — a result that moved it two points above Manchester City at the Premier League summit.

The visit of Maurizio Sarri’s side is widely considered to be the toughest remaining game for the Reds and they will have to be at their very best to claim all three points against a side fighting to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.

Read | Hazard staying focused on Chelsea amid continued Real Madrid speculation

Three straight wins for Chelsea have propelled it up to third and it knows another victory will put it in pole position — ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United — for a coveted top-four finish.

CHELSEA AIMING TO RUIN LIVERPOOL’S HOME COMFORTS

Liverpool’s stunning 37-game unbeaten run at Anfield could be under serious threat on Sunday if recent history is anything to go by. The Reds have failed to win any of their last six Premier League games at home against Chelsea, while Sarri’s men will be in confident mood having already tasted victory at Anfield this season — a 2-1 win in the EFL Cup in September.

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Klopp will take comfort, though, from the contrasting fortunes of both sides against ‘big six’ rivals in recent times.

Liverpool is unbeaten in its last 17 Premier League games against its top-of-the-table opponents at Anfield, while Chelsea is winless in its last seven away from home against the same opponents, losing the last five in a row.

The game offers Roberto Firmino the chance to break his duck against Chelsea. The Brazilian has only faced Manchester United (eight games) and Everton (seven) more often than Chelsea (five) without finding the net in the Premier League.

FORM GUIDE

Since a run of four draws in six games saw it slip behind City, Liverpool has returned to title-winning form in the past few weeks, winning its last four league fixtures in a row.

Chelsea will have its work cut out returning to London with maximum points given that the Reds have lost fewer games than any other Premier League team this season. Their only defeat came against title rival City in January.

After a draw with Wolves and a defeat to Everton, Chelsea has reeled off three wins on the spin to claw its way back into Champions League qualification contention. Its inability to keep clean sheets away from home, though, will give Sarri cause for concern. Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a side that has enjoyed just one shutout in its last 11 games on the road — a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

HEAD TO HEAD (Mohamed Salah vs Eden Hazard)

Salah has not scaled the heights of last season’s breathtaking form but he is still sitting pretty as Liverpool’s top Premier League scorer this season with 18 goals. The Egypt international has had more shots than any other Reds players this season (53 on target, 32 off target) and completed more dribbles (121) than any of his team-mates.

His superb solo effort against Southampton last week ended a run of eight games in all competitions without a goal. Do not bet against him netting another against his former club at the weekend, too.

 

There have been no such question marks over the form of Chelsea’s star man, however, as Hazard dazzles for the club despite the continued speculation over his long-term future at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard has had a hand in more goals than any other Premier League player this season, combining his 16 goals with 12 assists. His goals have come from 15 fewer shots on target (38) than Salah, while he has completed 46 more dribbles (167) than the Liverpool forward. It is little wonder that Real Madrid continues to be linked with a move for the Belgian.

HISTORY SAYS...

Liverpool knows it likely needs to win all of its remaining games to claim the title but recent meetings with Chelsea at Anfield suggest a draw is the most likely result. The last three Premier League meetings between the two sides on Merseyside have all finished 1-1.

Klopp will hope Sunday marks the start of better fortunes against Chelsea, given that the German only has a poorer points-per-game ratio as Liverpool boss against Manchester United (1.00) than he does against the London side (1.43).

The game marks just the third meeting between Klopp and Sarri with the Italian yet to taste defeat against his opposite number (one win and one draw).