Torres strikes after Lampard walks

Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0

All the elements of the great dysfunctional family that is the Liverpool boardroom were in Anfield yesterday: the Americans and the English, the factions and the grudges. Looking around the directors' box you would find it hard to get that lot to agree on anything, apart from, perhaps, the genius of Fernando Torres.

Thanks to Torres, the fight goes on. Liverpool stay in the title race as Manchester United raise their pace to a gallop. The gap may be two points and a game in hand to United but somehow, miraculously, Rafael Benitez's team are still putting up an argument despite the politics of the club, the farce over Robbie Keane and the increasingly erratic behaviour of their manager. They are in with a shout and that in itself is remarkable.

Torres cut through the traffic on 88 minutes to head in the decisive goal before he added the second in injury-time to unite this unhappy house of Scouse in joy just when they were beginning to wonder if it really was all over. They did so with the benefit of a deeply questionable performance from referee Mike Riley who sent off Frank Lampard having failed to do the same to Steven Gerrard when the latter had committed a foul of greater severity minutes earlier.

The sending off was the match's turning point, when Liverpool's control of the game turned into a siege of Chelsea's goal. It was the point when Liverpool's divided co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, along with their two sets of American guests, freshly decked out from the club shop, sensed that, for all their unfamiliarity with local custom, they were about to witness something very special indeed.

From Torres came the moment of brilliance, a service that Gerrard has been too often obliged to deliver of late, and so life was breathed into Liverpool's title challenge. At the same time, there was little sign of a pulse in Chelsea. Amid the rapture at Anfield there was the sense that this team have nothing left to give and – for all their bad luck with Lampard's red card – the situation is grave.

Scolari said that Lampard's tackle did not warrant a red card but he did not do so with the urgency of a man clinging on to his football reputation by the fingernails. Rather he pronounced breezily that, yes, this title race is getting more difficult and that things are looking rather bleak for Chelsea. Does he care? He says that he does but few managers can have remained as calm about a performance as gutless as Chelsea were.

Instead the Chelsea manager offered a trade-off to the Football Association in which they rescind Lampard's red card, for a challenge on Xabi Alonso, in exchange for a ban for Jose Bosingwa. As plea bargains go it was bizarre but honest nonetheless which is rare for a manager with his back up against a wall. Bosingwa thrust his studs into Yossi Benayoun's back late in the game out of sight of Riley, an incident that will be reviewed by the referee and should get Bosingwa banned.

Where does this leave the Chelsea project? Back at the point where you wonder whether even £100m will fix it this summer, and that is before anyone considers whether Roman Abramovich has the inclination to spend it.

Didier Drogba's appearance as substitute, some of it spent on the left side of midfield, looked more like an act of protest. Florent Malouda was ineffectual and Chelsea's first meaningful attempt on goal, from Salomon Kalou, came on 75 minutes.

If Lampard misses the next three games, then that might well spell the end of their challenge. Apart from Alex da Costa, who was the man of the match until Torres beat him to the ball for his goal, and Jon Obi Mikel, Chelsea are shrinking. John Terry's booking means he misses the FA Cup game against Watford. The pressure is on Scolari whose record against the three other members of the big four is now a lamentable lost four, drawn one.

The game caught light on the hour, two minutes after Gerrard had gone through Kalou with a challenge that showed more than a glimpse of the Liverpool captain's studs. It was reckless. Riley looked hard for a moment and let it go, which was a moment longer than he gave himself to make his decision on Lampard.

That time the Chelsea man went in with his studs up, played the ball and Alonso went over him. The flash of studs was what Riley must have seen, he cannot have got sight of the clean contact Lampard made with the ball, if anything it was the Chelsea man who was the victim, caught on the shin by Alonso's trailing leg. But by then Riley was already reaching in his back pocket.

There is no love lost between Alonso and Lampard, Lampard broke his ankle in a challenge on New Year's Day 2005 and Alonso has never forgiven. Yesterday Alonso made sure that he stayed down long enough to make it look like Lampard's challenge had really hurt. Lampard's only hope will be that the FA overturn the red card as quickly as they did for Paul Robinson, sent off for West Brom against Manchester United on Tuesday.

Then came the siege. Alex had done a brilliant job on Torres until the striker got to Fabio Aurelio's near post cross a fraction before the Brazilian and headed past Petr Cech. Ashley Cole gave away the second, letting in Benayoun, then tackling him and inadvertently squaring the ball to Torres who scored.

Can Liverpool do this every week? If they want to keep up with United they may have no choice.

Goals: Torres (88) 1-0; Torres (90) 2-0

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio; Mascherano (Babel 83), Alonso; Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera (Benayoun 74); Torres (Ngog 90). Substitutes not used: Cavalieri (gk), Dossena, Agger, Leiva.

Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, A Cole; Mikel; Kalou (Stoch 85), Ballack, Lampard, Malouda (Deco 69); Anelka (Drogba 69). Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ivanovic, Ferreira, Mancienne.

Referee: M Riley (Staffordshire).

Booked: Liverpool Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard. Chelsea A Cole, Mikel, Terry.

Sent off: Lampard.

Man of the match: Torres.

Attendance: 44,174.

Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game