Substitute Daniel Sturridge scored a stunning equaliser a minute from time as Liverpool snatched a dramatic draw at Chelsea in the Premier League.
The hosts were on course to move level on points with leaders Manchester City when Eden Hazard raced clear to score his second goal of the week against the Reds.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino had shots cleared off the line as Liverpool – who started the game second in the table – pressed for an equaliser, and Hazard was denied by Allison at the other end.
But, as the clock ticked down, Sturridge had the final say – bending a beautiful strike into the top corner from 30 yards.
The draw ended Liverpool’s 100% start to the Premier League season – and they finished the day behind defending champions Manchester City, albeit only on goal difference. Chelsea are two points back in third.
Why both managers can be happy…
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp smiled and embraced warmly at the final whistle of a high-class encounter that left them with mixed emotions.
Sarri will have been disappointed to see Chelsea concede so late but will have taken much pleasure from aspects of a performance that confirmed they have the qualities to remain in the race at the top of the Premier League this season.
With this result on the back of a 2-1 win at Anfield in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Sarri can look back on a highly satisfactory start to his Chelsea reign.
Klopp will feel the negative of the end of Liverpool’s 100% start to the Premier League season – but he can reflect on a performance that resulted in so many chances created on opposing territory against a team they will rightly regard as close rivals in pursuit of the title.
He would have shaken his head in disbelief had Liverpool left Stamford Bridge empty-handed given the golden opportunities they let slip through their grasp. Liverpool, no matter how late they left it, deserved their point.
In the final reckoning, however, both Chelsea and Liverpool remain unbeaten with five and six league wins respectively – although the sight of Manchester City above them even after that superb opening is an ominous one.
Sturridge sensational but Salah struggles
Sturridge’s spectacular late equaliser was another reminder that beneath the injury problems and the time on the sidelines lurks arguably England’s most naturally gifted striker.
The last time he played at Stamford Bridge was on 12 January during a miserable loan spell with West Bromwich Albion. He limped off with a hamstring injury after only four minutes and did not play a full game for the rest of the season.
This was a different story.
Liverpool had tried just about everything and missed all manner of chances when Sturridge, with as much nonchalance as brilliance, looked up and sent a 25-yard finish in an arc past the stretching Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in the closing moments.
Sturridge combines athleticism and in-bred goalscoring instinct, as he proved with his bicycle kick in the midweek Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea, and would be a certainty for Gareth Southgate’s England squad if he could string together a sequence of games.
As Sturridge walked off, taking the acclaim from Liverpool’s fans, he cut a stark contrast with the struggling Mo Salah, who did not last much longer than an hour against his former club and continues to struggle for form.
It is hardly crisis time for the Egyptian, who was never likely to repeat his 44-goal feat of last season, but he looks low on confidence at the moment – although he possesses such quality it is surely only a matter of time before he returns to his best.
Salah had three opportunities in the first half, with one finish weak and another wayward before he was denied by Antonio Rudiger’s superb goalline clearance.
It simply was not his day, a fact accepted by Klopp as last term’s talisman was removed and replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri midway through the second half.
Liverpool strong at Stamford Bridge – the stats
- Chelsea have won only two of their past nine home Premier League games against Liverpool (W2 D3 L4).
- Liverpool remain unbeaten in their opening seven matches of a Premier League season for the first time since 2008-09.
- Hazard is the Premier League’s top scorer this season with six goals – he has scored those from just nine shots on target.
- Liverpool have only conceded two first-half goals in their past 13 Premier League matches – both at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
- This was the 38th home Premier League game that Hazard has scored in – he has never ended on the losing side in any of those games (W34 D4 L0).
- Sturridge has scored 17 Premier League goals as a substitute – only Olivier Giroud (19) and Jermain Defoe (24) have scored more.
- Sturridge is the seventh player to score 50 Premier League goals for Liverpool, after Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt.
Chelsea welcome Hungarian champions MOL Vidi to Stamford Bridge in the Europa League on Thursday (20:00 BST), then travel to Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday (14:15).
Liverpool visit Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday (20:00) before welcoming Premier League champions Manchester City to Anfield on Sunday (16:30).