Sunday, 21 January 2018

LIVERPOOL 1, CHELSEA 1

Posted On Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:46 Written by
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Willian has now scored three goals in his past four games Willian has now scored three goals in his past four games

Chelsea substitute Willian scored a late goal to earn the Blues a draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward, who scored twice in a 4-0 win at Qarabag in the Champions League in midweek, struck in the 85th minute as what appeared to be a cross looped over Simon Mignolet and into the far corner.

It denied Mohamed Salah a dream outcome against his former club after the Liverpool winger had opened the scoring just after the hour with a close-range finish.

That was Salah's 10th goal in just 13 Premier League games this season in what has been a superb start to the Egyptian's Liverpool career.

Salah could even have won it for Liverpool in final minute but his powerful drive was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their past seven visits to Anfield, a run stretching back to 2013.

Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah has now scored 15 goals in all competitions this season

Salah, understandably, was the centre of attention in the build up to the match as he faced his former side for the first time since leaving Chelsea for Roma in the summer of 2016.

The 25-year-old made just 17 appearances and six league starts during his two-year spell at Stamford Bridge but has returned to England a much improved player.

Already the Premier League's top scorer, Salah has been at his most effective when alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in attack but against Chelsea he had Daniel Sturridge and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for company in Liverpool's front three.

The triumvirate may have been different but Salah still showed his class. He was Liverpool's most dangerous player in a first half light on chances, flashing an effort over the bar early on while a promising run along the edge of the box deserved more but there was no team-mate waiting in the box to meet his cut-back.

It felt, though, that Salah's name was destined to be written into the story of the game and so it proved. He showed great instinct to anticipate Oxlade-Chamberlain's poked pass and when presented with a clear sight of goal there was little doubt over the outcome.

Salah did not celebrate the strike, which saw him become Liverpool's highest scorer in a single season since Luis Suarez hit 31 goals in the 2013-14 campaign.

Chelsea had won two and drawn four in their past six Anfield visits, but despite that record Antonio Conte's team selection suggested this was a must-not-lose game rather than a must-win.

The Blues lined up with eight defensive-minded players - five defenders along with three holding midfielders as Tiemoue Bakayoko started alongside former Leicester duo Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kante in the middle.

That meant Eden Hazard carried all the creative responsibility, a task he grasped fully whenever the visitors had the chance to get forward. His darting runs and sudden changes of direction had the home side's defence on almost constant edge. It was from his through-ball that Mignolet had to race off his line to deny Drinkwater and it was from his pass that Davide Zappacosta forced the Liverpool keeper to tip over the bar.

However, he visibility tired in the second half, weakening Chelsea's attack, and when Salah scored it seemed a Liverpool win was inevitable.

Willian was unlucky not to have started after scoring twice and providing two assists in Chelsea's midweek win in Azerbaijan and it took just 144 seconds for him to make a telling impact in this game.

His three goals in two games is as many as in his previous 25 combined. The Brazilian has been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge but his impressive recent form suggests he could still play a part for the Blues this season.

Man of the match - Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah
Once again Liverpool's best player. With his 10th league goal for Liverpool in his 13th game, no player has scored more in their first 13 Premier League appearances for the Reds (level with Daniel Sturridge).LIV
Read 120 times Last modified on Saturday, 25 November 2017 20:55

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