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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
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
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
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
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
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