Thursday, June 20, 2019
Home Sport Liverpool vs Chelsea: How Reds have spectacularly banished five years of agony

Liverpool vs Chelsea: How Reds have spectacularly banished five years of agony

Has there ever been a more spectacular way to silence the haters? Has there ever been a more emphatic way to ban the torment that a club has not been able to escape for five years?

Mohamed Salah's goal was not necessarily the most important for Liverpool, as it was not the first, but the most repetitions – perhaps until the end of time, when next month's display will be on.

Salah had played with the intensity and dexterity that the rest of his team had not given before his leadership. There was a developing feeling that he could do something, but certainly not as outrageous as this one.

Robbie Fowler believes that the clean cut of his career in Liverpool was the one against Aston Villa, 23 years ago, when he turned Steve Staunton before hitting a bang hard shot from 30m away to Mark Bosnich.

Salahs did not include the skill of Fowlers or the distance, but it was more dramatic and pumped into the upper corner rather than the lower one.

The scene in Anfield in the seconds after that moment was at the atomic level due to the pressure scale previously available.

After three seconds, the print wiped away. The mood changed mainly due to another side pass from Jordan Henderson. The midfielder, who was often criticized for having made too many, was standing close to the defensive touchline at Chelsea. Liverpool's crosses from this position had previously been blind, but Henderson's were perfectly focused. Two meters outside Sadio Mane could not be missing with a header. In the corner, in front of a breaking head, Henderson celebrated as if he had hit himself. The relief was enormous.

However, this game will remember what Salah did 180 seconds later. His replacement as approach time felt like a gesture by Jürgen Klopp that allowed Anfield to recognize his brilliance. There followed a presidential receipt for the striker Anfield presented as king.

Salah celebrates after his Wonderful (AP)

The problems of Liverpool's first half were at that time in the distant past. 45 minutes felt to be conservative after 45 seconds due to Chelsea's concentrated atmosphere and commitment, though they looked dangerous in an attack.

In the sixth minute Liverpool's best chance had fallen on Salah during this time. It was the kind of opportunity that Liverpool's precursors last trained in warm-up, where crosses were fed from different angles to test the variation in their shooting abilities. Maybe Mane's delivery was a bit behind him and he had the space to adjust his body if he noticed, but he could not and Kepa saved more easily than he could have done.

Maurizio Sarri’s decision to use Eden Hazard as a lone striker potentially had its benefits because it meant the Belgian was positioned closer to goal and after all, he is usually a deadly finisher. Yet that reduced the possibility of his involvement in the build-up where his artwork brings others into the game. This nevertheless afforded greater discipline in Chelsea’s midfield, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho and N’golo Kante aligning themselves narrowly with Chelsea’s defence, not allowing Liverpool’s forward line the room to breathe.

Hazard threatened more after Chelsea fell behind and Gonzalo Higuain was introduced, pushing him to the left flank. Just as Liverpool had established a two-goal cushion inside two minutes, Hazard could have equalised inside the same timeframe. Liverpool’s opener might historically be regarded as defining but it could quite easily have been Hazard’s first miss, which struck the post.

In avoiding defeat, Liverpool’s unbeaten run at home in the league now stretches into a third year. Their last April home victory over Chelsea was in 1990 and a few weeks later they were crowned champions. It will take a slip from Manchester City for that to happen again but Liverpool, with Salah in this frame of mind, are not a team whose momentum is slowing. Instead, it feels like their belief is growing stronger.

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