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Rediff.com  » Sports » Late Willian goal earns Chelsea point at Liverpool

Late Willian goal earns Chelsea point at Liverpool

Last updated on: November 26, 2017 16:20 IST

The result leaves Chelsea in third place on 26 points, eight behind leaders Manchester City who play on Sunday, while Liverpool are fifth on 23 points.

IMAGE: Chelsea's Willian, left, celebrates after scoring the equaliser. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

A fortunate 85th-minute goal from Brazilian Willian earned Premier League champions Chelsea a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday after Mohamed Salah's 15th goal of the season looked to have given the hosts the three points.

Just two minutes after coming on as a late substitute at Anfield, Willian whipped in an attempted cross from the right which floated over Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet and into the net.

 

Salah, who was outstanding for Liverpool, had put his team ahead in the 65th minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain poked the ball away from a hesitant Tiemoue Bakayoko and the Egyptian pounced to fire past Courtois.

The result leaves Chelsea in third place on 26 points, eight behind leaders Manchester City who play on Sunday, while Liverpool are fifth on 23 points.

It had been an entertaining encounter on a chilly night on Merseyside and while the Londoners ended the happier with the result, a draw was a fair outcome.

"I thought on reflection in the second-half we deserved to equal the game up," said Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill.

"They had some good spells in the first half, we had some in the second. They did cause us some problems at times and I'm sure we did them," he said.

IMAGE: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah tries to get past Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp pulled several surprises with his team selection, leaving strikers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench and giving a start to forward Daniel Sturridge and midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Eden Hazard was bright and inventive for Chelsea and in the 21st minute produced the first effort on goal when he picked the ball up on the left flank, cut inside and his right-foot shot forced a good save out of Mignolet.

Hazard was the threat again moments later when his beautifully threaded pass split open the Liverpool defence and Mignolet had to respond quickly to beat Danny Drinkwater to the ball.

It was a busy spell for Mignolet who pushed wide a fierce Davide Zappacosta shot in the 25th minute as Chelsea pushed hard for the opener.

IMAGE: Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the goal for Liverpool. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

While Chelsea continued to look dangerous going forward, Liverpool struggled to find the same level of fluency and their best effort of the half came from Salah, four minutes before the interval, who jiggled to make some space for a left foot shot which curled just wide of Thibaut Courtois’s right-hand post.

Liverpool came out strongly after the break and it took a superb block from Cesar Azpilicueta to stop a fierce Sturridge strike. But moments later Klopp’s side had the lead.

Salah's alertness allowed him to take advantage of the sloppiness from Bakayoko and the forward's confidence was evident in his finish.

Klopp promptly strengthened his midfield, taking off Sturridge for Georginio Wijnaldum, but that move did not have the desired effect as Chelsea began to gain the upper hand.

Chelsea's chance to level looked to have gone when Marcos Alonso volleyed wide from a promising position in the 82nd minute but Willian's effort somehow found its way into the net, right in front of the wildly-celebrating Chelsea fans.

There was still time for Salah to test Courtois again in injury time but in the end it was a result that will truly please only Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

West Brom expose Tottenham's Wembley woes

Tottenham's Harry Kane heads at goal as he is involved in an aerial challenge with West Bromwich Albion’s Ahmed Hegazi and Jonny Evans

IMAGE: Tottenham's Harry Kane heads at goal as he is involved in an aerial challenge with West Bromwich Albion’s Ahmed Hegazi and Jonny Evans. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino expressed his love for Wembley at the start of the season and said using it as a temporary home while Tottenham Hotspur's new stadium is being built would be "magic" for his team.

Three and a half months into the campaign and it is difficult to imagine the Spurs manager is harbouring the same level of affection.

In fact, following Saturday's 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at their adopted home, he seemed far more downbeat.

“It’s different to White Hart Lane, but that is our reality. We cannot escape from our reality. Our reality is playing here and waiting for our new stadium," he said.

“That’s not an excuse, the team is doing well. We’re only disappointed because the team dropped two points."

Although the national stadium has so far been a fortress in the Champions League -- Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid were both impressively beaten 3-1 -- the story has been very different in domestic competition.

Spurs thumped Liverpool 4-1 but, otherwise, Chelsea and West Ham United both claimed victories at Wembley and Burnley, SwanseaCity and now West Brom all left with a draw.

CrystalPalace and Bournemouth, meanwhile, were in the Premier League relegation zone when they visited and both suffered only narrow 1-0 defeats.

Scoring goals has been at the core of the problem, with the win over Liverpool remaining the only Premier League home game this season in which Tottenham have netted more than once.

Smaller teams have tended to defend deep and in numbers at Wembley and despite boasting creative talents such as Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen and a prolific striker in Harry Kane, Tottenham have struggled to break them down.

In the build-up to Saturday’s draw against West Brom, Pochettino said his side miss the skill and trickery of long-term injury absentee Erik Lamela when they face sides playing for a draw. Without Lamela, he said, “you can be stopped with the wall and you crash”.

It is surely no coincidence, therefore, that Tottenham have enjoyed most success at home against Dortmund, Real Madrid and Liverpool, all of whom played far more adventurous football and left gaps for the likes of Alli, Eriksen and Kane to exploit.

The upshot of their Wembley struggles is that Tottenham are now 10 points behind Premier League leaders ManchesterCity, having played a game more, and are seemingly out of title contention.

“Yes, it’s true now that the gap is 10 points and it’s massive in the Premier League," Pochettino said.

“But now we need to be focused and try to improve ourselves and be more consistent at Wembley, and try to win more games here like last season at White Hart Lane.”

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