LONDON – A spectacular goal from Willian cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s opener as Chelsea fought back to earn a draw at Anfield on Saturday night.
The Brazilian came off the bench late on to bring his side level five minutes before the end of a scrappy, rainswept affair, with both teams showing signs of fatigue after away Champions League games in midweek.
Liverpool opened the scoring in the 65th minute through their summer signing from Roma, former Chelsea player Mohamed Salah, after good work from Philippe Coutinho.
Chelsea had looked the more dangerous in the first half, with Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard at the heart of everything going forward for the visitors.
Despite the threat they carried on the counter attack, they were largely restricted to shots from distance, their final ball often letting them down.
Chelsea were set up defensively, having left Willian, Fabregas and Pedro on the bench, with only Alvaro Morata and Hazard as recognizable attack-minded starters.
As Liverpool struggled to breakdown the visitors’ rear-guard, the Anfield crowd began to get restless, their side’s surrender of three second half goals at Sevilla on Wednesday surely on their minds.
The Reds started to come into the game as an attacking force as the first half drew to a close, after Chelsea failed to capitalize on promising openings they created on the break.
The second period continued in the same vein as the first, with Chelsea threatening on the counter as Liverpool continued to press forward in search of the opener.
The breakthrough came just after the hour-mark, with the league’s leading goalscorer Mohamed Salah finishing coolly against his former team after he seized on a mistake by Tiémoué Bakayoko on the edge of the box.
Chelsea sent on Fabregas and Willian in search of a leveler, which they got in somewhat fortuitous circumstances, although Willian will surely claim his lofted chip that sailed over Simon Mignolet’s head into the Liverpool goal was deliberate, rather than intended as a cross to the waiting Alvaro Morata at the back post.
The draw is not particularly useful to either team, although Chelsea will be the happier of the two, staying third on 26 points, three behind Manchester United, and eight behind Manchester City, who play away at Huddersfield on Sunday.
Liverpool stay in fifth on 23 points, although they could be over taken if Arsenal win at Burnley on Sunday.