Liverpool start as they finished against Chelsea at Wembley as John Terry slips off the pace

Liverpool 4 Chelsea 1

Anfield

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 owner Roman Abramovich's eyes amounts to the same thing.

Since his takeover in 2003, Stamford Bridge has only ever staged Champions League football. Now, unless they can overcome Bayern in their own stadium, Chelsea will be dipping their toes into some of European football's more distant waters.

There were eight changes last night from the side that had beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup final and they suffered Chelsea's heaviest league defeat of the Abramovich era. Since few of this team are likely to play in the Allianz Arena on 19 May, it would be harsh to read too much into this debacle, although the match climaxed with the Kop chanting: "Bayern Munich, they'll win it five times".

Nothing here would discourage the Germans. Given the suspensions Roberto Di Matteo's side will take into the final, Michael Essien or Florent Malouda may have to be pressed into service in central midfield, where last night they were overrun.

"You have to be objective; we have played 37 games in the Premier League and the points we have lost today are not the reason we have failed to finish fourth," Di Matteo said.

He justified his selection by arguing that, "with everything we have been through we needed to use players who were fresh mentally and physically." They would have been worn down by the finish. John Terry endured such a dreadful first half that someone tweeted Bayern would be appealing to Uefa to have his ban for the final overturned.

Chelsea's situation, however, is identical to Liverpool's when they won the European Cup in Istanbul seven years ago and this was a night that would have made Kenny Dalglish's end-of-season review with the club's owners a little easier. Liverpool began as they had finished the FA Cup final – and that when the season is summed up here will be a matter for lasting regret.

"No, I don't have a feeling of 'what if?'" said Dalglish. "I have a feeling of: 'what a performance'. The last half-hour at Wembley and this performance make up a fantastic two hours of football. The supporters can go away with a smile on their faces."

There were moments last night to give Bayern's representatives pause for thought. Branislav Ivanovic thundered a header against the post when the scores were still level. Fernando Torres, returning to Anfield for the first time since Chelsea made him the Premier League's most expensive footballer, accelerated away from Daniel Agger and sent a shot crashing on to the crossbar beneath the Kop.

Pepe Reina, who has admitted publicly to having endured a poor season, was wrong-footed by Ramires as he met Malouda's free-kick to spark a flicker of a comeback that was extinguished the moment Ross Turnbull sent a clearance straight to Jonjo Shelvey, who drove it back with interest into the net.

That was Liverpool's fourth and final goal, although there might have been more. Just before half-time, Ivanovic barged over Andy Carroll, whom Dalglish thought as unplayable as he had been in the final half hour at Wembley, and conceded a penalty. Stewart Downing has never scored for Liverpool in the league and maintained that record by hitting the post with his kick.

It scarcely seemed to matter. Liverpool were three up and in total command. The rout began with Luis Suarez reaching the byline and pulling the ball back for the approaching figure of Carroll. It missed its target, hit Essien and rolled over the line for the first of three goals in nine minutes.

While Carroll's reputation had been revived by the FA Cup final, Jordan Henderson's had plummeted further. When John W Henry decided to sack Damien Comolli as director of football, the principal complaint was that he had signed players who were wildly overpriced. Henderson, bought from an astonished Sunderland for £20m, was the chief witness for the prosecution.

However 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, Henderson was the one to benefit and you would have had to possess a granite heart not to have willed him to score, which he did in some style.

Carroll may not have scored – however, he contributed to Liverpool's third with surprising delicacy, heading Shelvey's corner across the face of the area for Agger to head home. 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 Dalglish thought him to be.

Man of the match Carroll.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee K Friend (Leicestershire).

Attendance 40,721.

Selected final day fixtures (all Sunday, 3pm)

Everton v Newcastle United

Manchester City v Queen's Park Rangers

Norwich City v Aston Villa

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers

Sunderland v Manchester United

Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham

West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor