Liverpool vs Chelsea match report: Jurgen Klopp gifted late point as Christian Benteke heads late leveller

Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1: Hazard's wonderful opener levelled at Anfield after a late Begovic mistake in Klopp's 50th Reds match

Simon Hughes
Wednesday 11 May 2016 22:05 BST
Christian Benteke celebrates his late equaliser which earned Liverpool a point at home to Chelsea on Wednesday (Getty)
Christian Benteke celebrates his late equaliser which earned Liverpool a point at home to Chelsea on Wednesday (Getty)

Since knocking out Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals, Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds has emerged as the anthem of Liverpool’s run to the Europa League final.

Each time it is played on Anfield’s public address system, it informs supporters, of course, that “every little thing, gonna be alright,” and then the majority of those present join in.

Maybe their season ultimately will be. Again here, Liverpool eked out a recovery when all indications pointed towards defeat.

This time next week Liverpool might be a Champions League club once again and this match will be forgotten about.

For that to happen, though, they will have to play a lot better than they did against a Chelsea team that contained John Obi Mikel as a makeshift central defender.

Never before has the Nigerian midfielder appeared so comfortable in a Premier League fixture on Merseyside.

Everything that Liverpool have been in games on this ground over the last month, they were not here. Chelsea, decimated by absentees, were seconds away from victory.

Liverpool’s push for an equaliser had been gentle rather than forceful.

Chelsea’s lead could have been greater had Pedro released a more convincing finish from Eden Hazard’s perfect defence splitting pass with a few minutes to go.

Guus Hiddink, the acting Chelsea manager, claimed his players had almost executed “the perfect match” and he was right.

He then conceded that Chelsea’s only failure was to kill the game off and he was right about that too.

In injury time, indeed, just as it seemed as though Jürgen Klopp might spend the next few days concerned about momentum being lost with a European final looming, Christian Benteke capitalised on Asmir Begović’s mistake from Sheyi Ojo’s cross to steal a point.

Klopp believes Liverpool’s never-say-die attitude is a great strength. But he realises as well that not everybody trusts the quality of his team yet and that includes fans and, maybe, the players themselves. “You could say we were patient because we scored right at the end,” he suggested. “But before we wanted to be patient and everybody ran faster instead.”

There was more riding on this for Liverpool than there was for Chelsea, who would finish in their lowest league position in 20 years regardless of the result here.

Theirs was a skeleton side, with John Terry suspended, Branislav Ivanović and Diego Costa injured and Thibaut Courtois sitting in the directors’ box because of sickness.

Liverpool’s team, meanwhile, reflected Klopp's likely selection policy in next week’s Europa League final against Sevilla, with the same XI that started against Villarreal last Thursday in the semi-final featuring again.

There was no sense that this was a full scale-drill, however. It would be tempting to describe Hazard’s opener as a thing of beauty. The identity of the architect did not come as a surprise.

Throughout, neither Emre Can nor James Milner were able to regulate the Belgian’s movement from a central position and his display was the outstanding feature of the night.

Hazard's goal came from Chelsea’s left: slaloming, skipping and accelerating past four opponents before easing a shot past Simon Mignolet from the edge of the box.

Yet at no point did a home player apply necessary pressure to prevent the run and it reinforced the idea that Liverpool were preoccupied by other challenges.

Their best opportunity of the first half came when Daniel Sturridge released Roberto Firmino with a delightful pass.

From there, the Brazilian’s first, second, third and fourth touches were good.

The fifth ruined any chance of him scoring and the moment acted as another reflection of the way Liverpool were playing.

The pattern did not change a great deal in the second half.

This was Klopp’s 50th game in charge of Liverpool. That it came just 217 days since his appointment last October meant that he had reached the landmark quicker than any Liverpool manager in history.

Having played so much, especially since Christmas, it seemed as though it might have been up to Klopp to determine whether this performance was a consequence of diverted attentions and players being afraid to commit to the high intensity levels that he usually demands in case of injury ahead of a big game, or, in fact whether Liverpool are getting tired at exactly the wrong time.

Perhaps Benteke’s intervention will stop that investigation happening. Perhaps Klopp will be happy to ride the momentum from here.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1) Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Touré (Ojo 86), Moreno; Milner (Allen 75), Can; Lallana (Benteke 75), Firmino, Coutinho; Sturridge. Subs not used: Bogdan, Lucas, Skrtel, Smith.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Begović; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Mikel, Rahman; Fabregas, Matić; Willian (Kenedy 57), Hazard, Pedro (Loftus-Cheek 90); Traoré (Abraham 73). Subs not used: Amelia, Pato, Palmer, Tomori.

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