10-man Chelsea Secures Point At Liverpool

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Ten-man Chelsea delivered a defensive masterclass as they held on for a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield after defender Reece James was sent off just before halftime in the Premier League clash of the weekend.

The first clash of the season between two title contenders brought expectation and noise to Anfield. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino started up front for Liverpool, while Romelu Lukaku was supported by Mason Mount and Kai Havertz for the European champions.

Chelsea took the lead in the 22nd minute when Havertz’s glancing header from a corner looped into the far corner of the net past the helpless goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

Chelsea’s Kai Havertz celebrates goal against Liverpool

Mason Mount should have doubled Chelsea’s lead when he was put in by, Lukaku but failed to hit the target. Moments later, an incident transformed the game. Liverpool defender Joel Matip’s header rebounded off the bar and Mane’s attempt bounced in front of James who stopped it from crossing the line.

But referee Anthony Taylor was called over to the pitchside monitor where he saw images showing the ball had struck James’ arm after it bounced off his thigh. Taylor not only awarded the penalty but sent off James.

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward  Salah kept calm, beating Edouard Mendy with a textbook penalty kick to level the scores but before the halftime break.

Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah scores penalty against Chelsea

German manager Tuchel  made two changes with Havertz and the injured N’Golo Kante making way for defender Thiago Silva and midfielder Mateo Kovacic. That meant a switch to a five-man defence as Lukaku was more isolated in attack.

There were long range efforts from Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson, but the home side gradually ran out of ideas and energy against the resilient Chelsea defence. Chelsea threatened to sneak a winner when Kovacic burst in from the left, six minutes from the end, but was denied by Alisson.

Having gone in at the break at 1-1 and down a man, European champions Chelsea were pleased at picking up a point against title chasing rivals as they maintained their unbeaten start to the season.

Second placed Chelsea are level with Liverpool on seven points from three games, with both teams having identical goal difference.

The dismissal of James, after a handball on the goalline, turned what had been a high-tempo and entertaining game into a more tactical affair following Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel’s double substitutions at the interval.

Reece James’ handball incident

“Fantastic!!. I saw a very strong Liverpool side in the first half. We were very good, got the first goal, had a big chance to score the second through Mason Mount, and created a lot of good ball wins,” Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said.

“We maybe lacked a bit of precision to have better chances in counter attacks and transitions, but the pressure was high from Liverpool, the energy was high, and at some point we needed to suffer, which we did.”

“In the last second, we conceded a penalty and lost N’Golo Kante to injury and suddenly the world was upside down. I cannot praise the team enough for their resilience. I don’t know if there are harder stadiums in the world than Anfield to go a man down.”

“The first 10 minutes [of the second half] felt like it would never end, but the next half an hour we could have maybe scored another one and made it harder for them. In the last five I was hoping we would survive and take a well-earned point, and we did, the teamwork was absolutely fantastic,” Tuchel concluded.

Premier League results

Manchester City 5-0 Arsenal

Aston Villa 1-1 Brentford

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Everton

Newcastle 2-2 Southampton

Norwich 1-2 Leicester City

West Ham 2-2 Crystal Palace

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea

 

Chidi Nwoke/Premier League.

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