Chelsea frustrated Liverpool in a fast and furious Anfield encounter to claim a hard-earned 1-1 draw despite being reduced to 10 men after Reece James’ first-half sending-off.
In the battle between two Premier League superpowers who are fully expected to contest the title this season, Liverpool pressed frantically throughout, but the Champions League holders were superbly organised and will ultimately be satisfied with the draw.
Mason Mount wasted a glorious opportunity to double Chelsea’s advantage before the game exploded in controversy in the closing moments of the first half.
Liverpool were awarded a penalty following a goalmouth scramble in which Joel Matip hit the bar and James swept Sadio Mane’s shot off the line with his hand. Referee Anthony Taylor awarded the spot-kick after consulting VAR, adding insult to Chelsea’s injury by showing the defender the red card.
Mohamed Salah drilled home the penalty to set up a second-half Liverpool siege but Chelsea were more than up to the challenge.
Liverpool were primed to sweep forward in front of The Kop, who had been in baying form from the first whistle. So It was to Chelsea’s credit that, despite Liverpool enjoying so much possession, it was hardly a case of chances raining down on Mendy’s goal.
The Blues, who lost N’Golo Kante to injury, brought on Thiago Silva and Mateo Kovacic and held the hosts at bay with a superbly drilled defensive display, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy playing his part by saving well from Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, with Diogo Jota also coming close with a headed chance.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel will have been delighted with the way his team adapted to the blow of conceding a penalty and suffering a numerical disadvantage in those crucial seconds before the break – but he may still be left wondering what might have been.
For all Liverpool’s pressing and the incredibly animated urgings of manager Jurgen Klopp, who even acted as a Anfield’s cheerleader on occasions, Chelsea were comfortable in that opening period, apart from one golden opportunity that Jordan Henderson skewed wide on the volley.