Liverpool start as they finished at Wembley as Carroll wins over Kop


It is now the European Cup or bust for Chelsea and, should they perform this badly against Bayern Munich, bust it will be – or the Europa League which in Roman Abramovich's eyes amounts to the same thing.

Since few of this side are likely to play in the Allianz Arena on 19 May, it would be harsh to read too much into this debacle and Chelsea's situation is identical to Liverpool's when they won the European Cup in Istanbul seven years ago.

The away end was half empty and those who had not made the journey to Merseyside probably knew what they were doing well before Liverpool went 3-0 up inside half an hour. Roberto di Matteo had made eight changes to the side that had won Chelsea's fourth FA Cup in five years and had John Terry, Ramires or Branislav Ivanovic not been suspended for the European Cup final, he might have made more.

Terry, certainly, might have wanted to sit this one out. It might have been kinder to say he was still hung-over from Wembley. The Chelsea captain's performance was sometimes so wretched that someone tweeted that Bayern Munich had applied to overturn Terry's suspension for the European Cup final.

You wonder what Bayern Munich's representatives thought, although the way Fernando Torres turned and sprinted past Daniel Agger early on and drove his shot on to the crossbar beneath the Kop might give Bayern pause for thought.

The rout began with Luis Suarez out-sprinting Terry, reaching the byline and pulling back the ball for the approaching figure of Andy Carroll. It missed its target, hit Michael Essien and rolled over the line for the first of three goals in 10 minutes.

When Maxi Rodriguez aimed a loose pass in the general direction of Terry and saw the pillar of Chelsea's defence slip to the floor, Jordan Henderson was the one to benefit as he scored in some style.

Carroll had a shot well saved by Ross Turnbull, who had not kept goal for Chelsea in two years and probably did not wish to repeat the experience. However, Carroll contributed to Liverpool's third with surprising delicacy, heading Jonjo Shelvey's corner across the face of the area for Agger to head home.

Just before half-time, the Serb barged over Carroll as the rejuvenated striker went to meet Henderson's cross and conceded a penalty. Stewart Downing was given the responsibility – he had never scored for Liverpool in the league and had just sent one outrageous shot on to the top of the crossbar. This time, he varied his delivery and hit the post. It scarcely seemed to matter – Liverpool were three up and in total command.

Pepe Reina who has had admitted publicly to having a poor season would not have enjoyed the way he was wrong-footed by Ramires as he met Florent Malouda's free-kick to spark a flicker of a Chelsea comeback early in the second half, but this was extinguished the moment Turnbull sent a loose clearance straight to Shelvey who drove it straight back into the net.

As he ran towards the Kop in the second half, the great stand stood and chanted his name. It has taken a while but Carroll is becoming the player Kenny Dalglish thought him to be.