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?
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us