Liverpool storm the Bridge

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 1

The last time Chelsea lost at home the day's other significant result was Leeds United winning a point at Old Trafford. In the wider world Barack Obama was still hoping to win the Illinois Democratic nomination to run for a seat in the US Senate.

Much has happened in the subsequent four years, eight months and six days but until Howard Webb blew the final whistle yesterday no club had taken three league points from Stamford Bridge. Liverpool required a scappy goal to do so, Xabi Alonso's ninth-minute shot deflecting past Petr Cech off Jose Bosingwa, but they thoroughly deserved to be the first league winners here in 87 matches.

It was an outstanding performance by a Liverpool team lacking Fernando Torres and Martin Skrtel, one that suggests they are, at last, genuine championship contenders. Alonso also struck a post and Steven Gerrard drew a fine save from Cech as Liverpool played the better football and created the clearer chances.

Not until the 72nd-minute did Chelsea seriously threaten and even then Pepe Reina was not extended. The result moves Liverpool three points clear ahead of Chelsea and Hull City – who had lost at home to Torquay in the bottom division the day Chelsea lost 2-1 to Arsenal at the Bridge in February 2004. On Wednesday Chelsea go to Hull, while Liverpool host now managerless Portsmouth.

This result was a triumph for Rafael Benitez, who won the tactical battle hands-down. Chelsea were given no space to operate their midfield passing triangles and their attacking full-backs were neutered by Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera. With Ashley Cole, Bosingwa and Deco suffocated Chelsea lacked creativity. As a consequence they went route one. Had Didier Drogba been leading the line this may have brought reward, but the Ivorian is injured, as is Joe Cole, whose imagination was equally missed.

Scolari began with his usual formation and expected personnel but Liverpool, with Gerrard operating behind Robbie Keane, and Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano forming a screen in central midfield, made the sharper start. This brought early reward as Kuyt headed on Alvaro Arbeloa's throw-in. John Terry headed the ball out but Bosingwa miskicked a clearance and the ball fell to Xabi Alonso. On his weaker left foot the Spaniard sent the ball off Bosingwa and into the net.

Chelsea have been behind surprisingly often in the previous 86 matches but always recovered. This time they rarely looked like doing so. With Gerrard and Keane taking turns to drop back and prevent John Obi Mikel dictating play, Chelsea could not get into any kind of rhythm.

Liverpool, with slightly less possession, continued to make the better chances with the excellent Riera striking the side netting and Cech making an athletic save to turn over Gerrard's dipping volley. In response, Deco, finding rare space, wasted it by shooting wide when he could have fed in Florent Malouda or Salomon Kalou.

Liverpool did have an escape 10 minutes into the second period when Malouda ran on to an Anelka flick only to be clattered by Reina. A penalty and red card loomed, until a linesman's flag was spotted correctly indicating offside. It was a good day all-round for the officials. Webb did not get every call right – Bosingwa conned him into booking Gerrard – but most decisions were correct in a match which required all the experience he gained as a beat officer managing testosterone-fuelled young men enjoying a Friday night out in Sheffield city centre. It was a performance which made one wonder whether the Football Association's refereeing recruitment programme should target the police and military.

By the hour Scolari had changed tack, bringing on the gangly teenager Franco Di Santo and moving to 4-4-2. In reality it was 3-4-3 with Ashley Cole playing in attack. Cole soon put a header wide, then a volley from Di Santo's knock-down as Chelsea finally opened Liverpool up. In between, though, Alonso struck the post from a 30-yard free-kick with Cech motionless. Finally Juliano Belletti played the pass of the match to release Deco, but he delayed and Jamie Carragher blocked.

That was characteristic of Liverpool's desire. Chelsea matched them for effort, but not for poise and nous in what was a very good match. This weekend Michel Platini, the Uefa president, suggested England could not win the World Cup because the Premier League had too many foreigners. But there were more Englishmen than there were players of any other nationality honing their talent here, in a game of greater quality than most Champions League fixtures.

Goal: Alonso (9) 0-1.

Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa (Sinclair, 84), Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Deco, Mikel, Lampard; Kalou (Di Santo, 57), Anelka, Malouda (Belletti, 57). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Ivanovic, Ferreira, Alex.

Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio; Kuyt (Lucas, 87), Alonso, Mascherano, Reira (Hyypia, 89); Gerrard; Keane (Babel, 59). Substitutes not used: Cavalieri (gk), Dossena, Benayoun, Pennant.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorks).

Booked: Chelsea: Malouda, Cole, Deco. Liverpool: Reira, Gerrard, Mascherano.

Man of the match: Gerrard.

Attendance: 41,705.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
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

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"