Groundhog day as Benitez
faces same old problems
Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post
I had an uneasy feeling of deja-vu
watching Liverpool at Chelsea on Sunday – it was as if we’d
gone back in time three or four years.
Like they were happy to turn up at 0-0 and hold on to what
they had, without ever looking like trying to open the game
It was only when Liverpool went a goal down that I thought
they started to look like they could create chances if they
really put their minds to it – but it really was all too
little too late.
I think it was one of those ‘glass half empty’ days for
Rafael Benitez, almost as if he felt his side couldn’t
afford to lose this game so he would be delighted with a 0-0
Whereas I think he would have been better really going out
to try to win it.
In fact, I was interested to hear his reaction after the
game to being told that Liverpool have already lost more
league games than they did in the whole of last season.
Benitez might be right in his belief that you can probably
afford to lose a few more this season and still be in with a
shout for the title, rather than drawing games.
But then why not put a bit more onus on going for the three
points at Chelsea?
Another big problem for Benitez, however, is did he have any
When he sets his team up he feels he has to play an extra
defensive player to allow Steven Gerrard to go roaming
But then where’s the supply line for him and Fernando
Torres? For me, games like yesterday highlight the loss of
Xabi Alonso, simply because neither Lucas nor Mascherano can
play the quick, incisive, instant ball that Gerrard and
Torres thrive on.
It’s a waste, because somebody of the brilliance of Torres
should be taking the ball in space and destroying defences.
That’s why this time round Liverpool will have no trouble
beating the likes of Hull and Stoke, who they struggled
against last year.
But when Torres gets isolated in amongst world class
defenders then it really is going to be a struggle against
the top teams.
Look at how well Sunderland did against Manchester United.
They nearly won there because they had two quality strikers
The movement of one created space for the other and their
combination almost inspired an unlikely win at Old Trafford.
Benitez simply does not have the resources to send out two
centre-forwards because the strength in depth is not there.
Nobody else is troubling defenders high up the field and
Torres is getting surrounded. Against the very best, you
just can’t expect him to dribble through and walk the ball
into the net like he did the week before when he helped
himself to a hat-trick against Hull.
He needs to be supplied with the ammunition to do the damage
and there was such a worrying lack of it at Stamford Bridge
that he was feeding off scraps – and you can’t afford to
have your matchwinners in that kind of situation.
One thing I thought Benitez could have done differently to
address this problem was to play Yossi Benayoun from the
He has become that most rare of species in the Liverpool
squad – someone who can make things happen.
It’s something we’ve been crying out for for ages and now
Benayoun has moved on from bit-part player to a genuine
creative force, he needs to be out there giving defences
like Chelsea’s something to think about.
If he takes defenders out of the game or if he gets in a
position to plant crosses in, then at least he’s giving
Torres and Gerrard the tools to go and win the game.
But the fact that he wasn’t out there only underlined the
cautious approach Benitez took and that perhaps exposes the
lack of confidence he has in his team to go out and take the
game to a top side.
It’s not the end of the world and Liverpool are still
capable of mounting a challenge.
But Sunday showed why that task is going to be more
difficult than ever.
Mark Lawrenson was talking to NICK SMITH
promises Reds response
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has
vowed the Reds will be ready for the 'massive week' which
could reignite their season.
The Reds suffered another dent in their quest for the title
as Sunday's 2-0 defeat to rivals Chelsea saw Rafael
Benitez's side collect their third loss in eight matches
this term, one more than the entire 2008/2009 campaign.
Despite trailing Carlo Ancelotti's Blues by six points going
into the latest international round of fixtures, Carragher
believes the Reds can kickstart their season with positive
results in the Merseysiders' next three games.
Premier League clashes against Sunderland and Manchester
United, sandwiching a Champions League contest with Lyon lie
in waiting and the 31-year-old defender is fully focused on
a crucial run-in.
"It's never nice to lose before an international break,
particularly a game as big as this, but we have got to put
it behind us," Carragher told the Liverpool Echo.
"It would have been good to send the international lads away
with a bit of a buzz but it wasn't to be and now it's a case
of putting it behind us.
"When we get back to it, we have got a massive week coming
up with those games against Sunderland, United and Lyon.
"But every week you have as a Liverpool player is massive
and we know we'll have to be at our best to get going again
at Sunderland, as they are in good form."
Hansen: If that goes on,
how long will Benítez stick with him?
By Ben Moss - Sport.co.uk
Liverpool legend Alan Hansen believes his
former club are far too reliant on Fernando Torres and Steve
Gerrard. The former Anfield stalwart is also alarmed at the
form of Jamie Carragher. Hansen suggests Benitez will stick
with the long serving centreback, but admitted his dismal
form, which contributed to Chelsea’s second goal during
their Premier League defeat on Sunday, is major concern for
Hansen told the Telegraph: “No matter how much criticism is
directed at Rafael Benítez at the end of a bad week for
Liverpool, it is ultimately the players who must stand up
and take responsibility.”
“They are the ones making mistakes on the pitch, not the
manager, but the major problem for Liverpool is that they
are far too reliant on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.”
“Gerrard bailed them out at Bolton earlier this season and
Torres did the same at West Ham, but the goals and
inspiration have to start coming from somewhere else.”
“If it isn't Gerrard or Torres, it is nobody.”
“Glen Johnson has made a difference since arriving from
Portsmouth and Yossi Benayoun is the one player who can
inject creativity in the final third, but if Benayoun was
that good, Benítez would have started him against Chelsea on
“Just a week after beating Hull convincingly at Anfield, it
is back to the drawing board for Benítez following the
defeats against Fiorentina and Chelsea.”
“There are too many highs and lows and the good and bad
performances are chasms apart.”
“One week they are great, the next they are abysmal, but if
it continues like, there will be nothing for Liverpool this
“Liverpool have never been a club to panic, so I don't
believe that Benítez is under any pressure whatsoever. It is
nowhere near that stage.”
“If they fail to qualify for the Champions League then
that's when it becomes pressure time, but I still back
Liverpool to claim a top-four spot.”
“What will worry them, though, is that they are level on
points with Manchester City and Mark Hughes's team have two
games in hand.”
“I don't see City as potential champions, but they are going
to be a force and Liverpool have already lost three games
out of eight.”
“Liverpool could still finish as champions, but they have to
get back to keeping clean sheets. Whenever they are lining
up to defend a set-piece, you are expecting them to concede
a goal and that cannot continue.”
“Torres is terrific in the opposition box, but he is
positioned on the near post when Liverpool are defending
corners and he keeps on getting beaten there. That is a
problem Benítez has to address.”
“Jamie Carragher is a legend at Liverpool, but he has made a
bad start to the season and is making too many individual
errors. Two errors led to two goals against Chelsea.”
“If that goes on, how long will Benítez stick with him?”
“Carragher has done so well for the club in the past that
you have to stick with him and allow him to play through
“He is too good to dismiss just like that.”
“I've seen him take on Didier Drogba in Champions League
semi-finals and not give him a kick, but there are too many
errors at the moment.”
“Missing out on the Champions League would be catastrophic
for Liverpool, but I still see Arsenal as being in greater
jeopardy of that, even though they put six past Blackburn on
“Liverpool just need to eradicate the highs and lows and get
everything on an even keel.”
Still time for
a Reds title charge
Comment by Dominic King - Liverpool Echo
He asked his players to give him a
headache, to provide him with a set of problems with which
he would have to juggle for the remainder of the campaign.
Rafa Benitez used his pre-match press conference as a
vehicle to motivate his players into getting a victory that
would send expectations soaring.
Unfortunately for the Liverpool manager, the headache he is
now trying to soothe is the one that he wanted the least.
Irked by a chastening Champions League experience in
Florence five days earlier, Benitez had challenged his
players to get the kind of victory against Chelsea that
would put the momentum back in their campaign and leave him
‘trying to manage’ expectations.
Today, however, he is faced with the task of raising morale;
while there was nothing wrong with Liverpool’s effort or
application at Stamford Bridge, they find themselves being
written of as title challengers once again after slipping to
a 2-0 defeat.
Now that we have reached the first weekend in October with
Liverpool having lost more games already than they did in
the whole of the most recent campaign, it is inevitable that
a wider audience will already be writing them off as
True, it is going to be difficult to peg back a Chelsea team
that had more nous in one or two areas but to say Liverpool
are dead and buried after losing here would be as wide of
the mark as it would have been to proclaim them as kings in
waiting had they won.
There are, remember, 30 games still to play between now and
next May; Chelsea still have to come to Anfield, Arsenal
must be played home and away, as must both clubs from
Manchester – there is ample time to build up a head of
That said, Benitez will know – as will his players – that
the small details in the fixtures that matter must be
improved upon, otherwise the dreams of capturing that
elusive 19th championship will end up being tossed and blown
Chelsea have been lauded since Carlo Ancelotti took over and
there is no disputing that they do have some outstanding
players but were they honestly streets ahead of Liverpool?
Only the most blinkered would say ‘yes’.
As is so often the case in games of this magnitude, the
opening exchanges were played out with the kind of
deliberation and care that you would associate with a chess
match, each side plotted and schemed, trying to find the
slightest sign of an opening.
That Chelsea were unable to chisel a way through was down to
the fact that the man often referred to as ‘The Little
Chief’ was at his scampering, scurrying best, a figure of
perpetual motion snuffing out danger at the first possible
Some may rightly have questioned Javier Mascherano’s form in
the opening weeks of the campaign, wondering what impact a
summer transfer saga with Barcelona and Argentina’s laboured
efforts to qualify for the World Cup have had on him.
His presence was sorely missed in Florence last Tuesday
evening, however, and restored to his place just in front
the back four, Mascherano was terrific, hustling, bustling
and pestering anything that came his way clad in Blue.
One lunge on Michael Ballack early on close to the
touchline, cleanly spiriting the ball of the German’s toe,
proved his wellbeing following a hamstring problem – which
made the mistake that led to Chelsea taking the lead all the
Fatally dithering as he attempted to keep an attack going,
Mascherano saw Michael Essien take the ball out of his reach
and set Didier Drogba into the space Glen Johnson had
vacated. From that point there was a wretched inevitability
about what would happen.
Drogba’s ball was precise and once Nicolas Anelka – Gerard
Houllier’s biggest mistake in the transfer market back in
2002, when he failed to sign the French striker on a
permanent deal – had drifted in to space, he had the simple
task of beating Pepe Reina
The way that goal was celebrated by Chelsea’s staff and
players, and the way their opposite numbers slumped for a
split second afterwards spoke volumes; it was almost as if
everyone in the stadium knew at that point that the home
side had reached checkmate.
Such a shame. If Mascherano deserved better, so too did
Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher, who did their utmost to
keep Drogba and Anelka quiet and, for 89 and half minutes,
that’s just what they did.
Had it not been for that lapse, the 25th meeting in the five
years that Benitez has been in charge at Anfield would, in
all probability, have ended in a goal-less draw, as
Chelsea’s defenders were the stars of their team.
Goals have been easy to come by for the Reds in most games
this calendar year but here they struggled to get even the
merest glimpse of Hilario’s goal, with John Terry and
Ricardo Carvalho prepared to protect the stand-in keeper by
fair means or foul.
Nothing, for example, went Dirk Kuyt’s way, Steven Gerrard –
despite his best efforts – failed to find the kind of space
from which he so often wreaks havoc, while Fernando Torres
became more and more infuriated that a chance never came his
The best Liverpool could muster was a free-kick from Albert
Riera on the stroke of half-time and an effort that Yossi
Benayoun somehow dragged wide in the dying seconds, shortly
after Florent Malouda had given the final score a flattering
So now the next two weeks will be spent licking wounds,
rather than dreaming dreams but it must be remembered that
this is not a fatal blow to ambitions and nobody at Anfield
will be thinking that way. Yet they will also know
improvements must be made once the next round of
international fixtures are completed – otherwise Benitez
could find himself with a headache that proves difficult to
Defeat leaves Reds
title challenge faltering
Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
Before yesterday’s game, Rafael Benitez
declared he was hopeful of soon locking horns with Carlo
Ancelotti in a third Champions League final.
But the growing fear is that the managerial foes will not be
competing for honours at the top of the Premier League this
While the championship is not won by October, it can be
lost. And the evidence suggests Liverpool will struggle to
replicate their enthralling title challenge of the previous
What else to believe after a disappointing defeat at
Chelsea, a third loss in their first eight Premier League
The last time a team won the title from that position was
Manchester United in 1966-67.
Yet it isn’t just history – and the six-point gap to
Ancelotti’s leaders – that is pointing to Liverpool facing
an enormous task in ending a championship drought that
stretches back to 1990.
Yes, Benitez’s side have acquired the knack of seeing off
the lesser lights, a shortcoming that ultimately undermined
their title challenge last season.
But against any opposition that could be described as being
half-decent, they have come unstuck. First Tottenham
Hotspur. Then Aston Villa. Now both Fiorentina and Chelsea
in the space of five days.
That is simply not good enough. And with moneybags
Manchester City and a revitalised Arsenal pressing their
title claims, the suspicion persists that last season may
prove an opportunity missed for Benitez.
Even the new expansive style has hit a brick wall. Having
scored 24 goals in their first nine games, Liverpool have
now fired blanks in successive games.
And they rarely appeared capable of breaking through an
impressive Chelsea defence yesterday until it was much too
Indeed, stand-in Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario, deputising for
the suspended Petr Cech, could surely have not expected such
a comfortable 90 minutes.
With neither Fernando Torres nor Steven Gerrard allowed to
perform anywhere near their best, Liverpool struggled to
generate a threat inside the penalty area.
In fairness, the same applied to Chelsea. Yet when
Ancelotti’s side did fashion rare clear openings, they were
taken. And that, as so often proves the case in these tense
fixtures, proved the difference. Small details, as Benitez
After attracting increasing criticism, this was a
much-improved display from Liverpool’s defence – Glen
Johnson secure against his former club and Martin Skrtel in
particular atoning for his Florence misery – but, not for
the first time, Didier Drogba proved their nemesis.
The match was billed as a showdown between Drogba and
Torres, and it was the Ivorian who emerged a clear winner
having created both Chelsea goals for Nicolas Anelka and
substitute Florent Malouda.
Such a pity, then, that the Ivorian deems it necessary to
resort to his own brand of acting, the nadir of which came
when he was writhing on the turf after being dumped there by
legendary hard-man Yossi Benayoun.
Javier Mascherano’s welcome return from a hamstring injury
added steel to a Liverpool central midfield that was so
worryingly overrun at Fiorentina in midweek.
But the Argentine’s struggle for form was encapsulated by
his afternoon when, despite a typically tigerish performance
in which he was one of Liverpool’s better players, it was
his mistake that led to Chelsea taking a game-transforming
Mascherano dawdled too long in possession and the hosts
instantly broke, Deco feeding Drogba whose low cross from
the left was turned in at the far post by Anelka.
The last meeting between these sides was the eight-goal
Champions League thriller here in April.
But with both teams aiming to rebuild confidence after
defeats during the past week – Ancelotti laughingly
considered under pressure by some after Chelsea’s loss at
Wigan Athletic last week – the first half reverted to the
competitive, error-strewn encounters that have infuriated
neutrals over recent years.
Benitez admitted he had never seen his Liverpool struggle as
badly as they did in the opening 45 minutes in Florence, and
the visitors began the game determined to make amends.
But while Chelsea were the more threatening of a fairly even
first half, Pepe Reina was not extended to any great degree,
Drogba and Anelka both directing headers at the Liverpool
Drogba’s theatrics, and yet more poor marking at set-pieces,
almost proved costly for Benitez’s side on 34 minutes when
the Ivorian conned referee Martin Atkinson into awarding a
foul against Jamie Carragher.
From the resultant free-kick on the touchline, Deco’s
delivery from the right was header over by the unmarked
Michael Ballack from barely six yards.
It wasn’t until five minutes from half-time that Liverpool
managed to finally work Hilario, Gerrard releasing Dirk Kuyt
down the right whose cross was headed at the goalkeeper by
Cech was caught out by a long-range Fabio Aurelio free-kick
on Liverpool ’s last visit, but his deputy Hilario ensured
there was no repeat with a smart save low to his right to
turn around Albert Riera’s ambitious 35-yard shot shortly
before the break.
There were shouts for a penalty moments later when Drogba
clambered over Skrtel at a Liverpool corner, although the
award would no doubt have been more likely given had the
challenge been the other way around.
After falling behind, Liverpool mounted a strong challenge
during the final quarter, but Torres’s miserable afternoon
capped by the Spaniard miscuing his solitary clear
opportunity harmlessly wide from 15 yards.
And with the visitors pressing for an equaliser, they were
caught out on the counter-attack during injury time when
Drogba muscled his way beyond substitute Aurelio and
Carragher to the byline and Malouda turned the ball home
from close range.
There wasn’t even the crumb of a late consolation for
Liverpool, with Benayoun, lively after emerging from the
bench, sending an easy chance wide and Hilario then saving
spectacularly from Gerrard.
But there was to be no way back for Liverpool. Now Benitez
must hope the same does not apply to his side’s title
defiant after loss
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez insisted his
team remain strong title contenders despite their 2-0 defeat
Now six points behind leaders Chelsea, Liverpool have
already lost more games - three - than they did last season.
But Benitez told BBC Sport: "It is too early. It is a long
race and we must keep going. We are playing good football
and creating chances.
"We are doing the things that you need to do. But when you
have chances, you must score with them."
Benitez was highly critical of his players after their
midweek defeat against Fiorentina in the Champions League.
And more sloppiness led to Chelsea's opening goal, which
came after Javier Mascherano gave the ball away in midfield.
"The defence was much better. There were just one or two
things (wrong) and we paid for them," said Benitez.
"We played a good game against a good team but if you make
mistakes against them, they will score. The game plan was
good, but top-class players make the difference."
The Reds manager added: "He (Mascherano) was doing a good
job. We needed fresh legs and he was doing well for us.
"If Fernando Torres' header in the first half had gone in I
think it could have been a totally different game."
Despite Liverpool's uncertain start to the season, Benitez
predicted title-chasing teams would drop more points during
the current campaign than in past years.
"You will see the top sides losing more points against any
team," said the Spaniard. "That's good for the Premier
League, for the competition, but it means we have to keep
going. We can't think about three defeats.
"We drew a lot of games last season. We lost just two but
people were telling me about the draws. Now we're winning
more and losing a few but maybe we'll have more points."
in battle for fourth
By Harry Harris - ESPN Soccernet
Liverpool will need to make history to
land the Premier League title this season after three
defeats in the first eight games, but a more sobering
thought is that they have a battle to maintain a top-four
place to qualify for the Champions League.
With Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham making a
concerted effort to break into the top four, "The
Establishment", the usually-guaranteed Big Four are being
put under severe pressure. The competitive edge of the
Premier League has been questioned with too much
predictability over the years, but is this the season to
re-write the accepted order?
Liverpool have been craving the biggest domestic prize,
particularly as Manchester United are out to break
Liverpool's record total of championships. Both giants are
on 18 domestic titles.
As for this season's battle, it is increasingly becoming a
two-horse race between the current champions and Roman
Abramovich's Chelsea Pensioners. They might have so many
players 30 or over, but four of their OAPs strung together
the passes to make the first goal.
It really does pain me to say that Liverpool are at risk,
although Arsenal, too, cannot be sure of their position
despite an emphatic 6-2 win over Blackburn. Anfield is awash
with talent and Rafa Benitez has brought in some wonderful
players, such as Fernando Torres.
But Drogba is a brute, too fierce to handle on his day, and
although the Ivory Coast striker didn't score himself, he
made both goals. The second one, Jamie Carragher couldn't
stop, even when tugging at his shirt.
Chelsea haven't been firing on all cylinders, with defeat at
Wigan surrendering their 100% record, and that put Carlo
Ancelotti under pressure. Big Phil Scolari lost at the
Bridge against Liverpool a year ago, after a blistering
start, and his reign never was the same. The Brazilian coach
was eventually sacked.
The Italian coach knows that if he defaults on the lust for
silverware in West London then Guus Hiddinik will be back
sooner rather than later.
As the Premier League shuts down for the double headers of
World Cup ties, it was important for both clubs who pitched
up at the Bridge to win, but even a draw would have given
Liverpool some heart. Now, it seems more like a tough winter
ahead, potentially of discontent if it gets much worse.
Benitez has a lot of soul searching to do in the fortnight
break to attempt to get Liverpool back on track in the title
But no-one has ever won the Premier League after losing
three of their opening eight games. You have to go back to
1967 when Manchester United won the title after suffering
that number of defeats at the start of the season.
I doubt whether even the most partizan Liverpool supporters
can believe that the Reds will win the title yet again. To
be off the pace in early October is a shattering blow to a
Liverpool side ambitious to re-ignite their quest for the
title. In my view Liverpool were always going to be on the
fringe of the title race, but more worrying must be that
they are on the fringe of maintaining their top-four place.
As for Chelsea, I have pointed out that Frank Lampard has
been in a rut - a rut of not scoring at anywhere near his
normal rate. That will change. But Lampard made a telling
contribution by winning the ball from Liverpool's
ball-winner Mascherano, which set in motion the counter
attack that led to Drogba crossing for Anelka to stretch to
opening the scoring.
Lampard will have enjoyed that, but will enjoy his return to
goalscoring even more as he gradually comes to terms with
his new role within the manager's midfield diamond.
Lampard's contribution has helped to take Chelsea back to
the top of the table and the next major event in the title
race will occur when Ancellotti locks horns with Sir Alex.
Blues in top spot
Second-half goals from Nicolas Anelka and
Florent Malouda gave Chelsea a 2-0 victory over Liverpool
and sent them top of the Premier League.
France international Anelka struck first in the 60th minute
when he finished off a sublime low cross from Didier Drogba
as Chelsea defied their critics with a performance of grit
Substitute Malouda sealed the win in injury-time when he
slid home another low cross from Drogba.
Carlo Ancelotti's side were desperate to get back to winning
ways in the league after their 3-1 drubbing by Wigan last
week and a lacklustre victory over Apoel Nicosia in the
Champions League in midweek.
But it was Liverpool who had the best of the early exchanges
and the game sparked into life in the 12th minute when
Fernando Torres was fortunate not to receive a yellow card
for a late challenge on Chelsea captain John Terry.
The Spaniard's right foot was clearly too high and raked the
shins of the England defender.
However, referee Martin Atkinson opted to give the Liverpool
striker a lengthy lecture, much to the annoyance of the home
Liverpool continued to dominate but a shot from Albert Riera
was high and wide of the target in the 19th minute.
Michael Essien appeared to be late and high with a challenge
on Javier Mascherano but referee Atkinson was perfectly
positioned to see the incident and ignored Chelsea appeals.
The Liverpool player soon rose to his feet without any
damage to his right leg.
Both sides were full of attacking desire but neither
goalkeeper had been tested at the midway stage of the
Liverpool's Jose Reina finally collected a header from
Drogba just beneath the crossbar in the 24th minute but
Chelsea's threat was somewhat impotent.
In the 27th minute Reina was called into action again when
Essien's cross was met by Anelka.
The France international was unmarked but despite the luxury
of a free header, he could not find a way past the Liverpool
Liverpool were handed a chance to open the scoring in the
29th minute when Branislav Ivanovic was adjudged to have
brought down Torres.
The free-kick was some 25 yards out but Gerrard's effort
sailed over the crossbar to the delight of the home fans.
Four minutes later Chelsea squandered a chance of their own
after Drogba had been brought down by Jamie Carragher near
the corner flag.
Deco's free-kick into the penalty area was well placed but
Michael Ballack's header was off target from six yards.
Chelsea were now enjoying their best spell of the game and
when Lampard's 38th-minute corner fell to Essien at the far
post, the Ghanaian international forced Reina to make a save
at the second attempt.
Liverpool responded with Dirk Kuyt crossing for Torres to
head straight at Hilario from six yards.
Deco was booked for a foul on Kuyt in the 44th minute and
Riera forced Hilario into a late save with a 40-yard low
In the 57th minute Liverpool won a free-kick when Riera was
blocked by Ballack - but Gerrard's delivery was met by a
confident punch from Hilario and Chelsea survived a
The Blues broke the deadlock on the hour after Mascherano
lost possession to Lampard in the Chelsea half.
Essien and Deco fed the ball wide to Drogba on the left -
and his centre was perfect for Anelka to convert his fifth
goal of the season.
In the 63rd minute, Drogba met Lampard's free-kick but his
header was well held by Reina - and four minutes later the
visitors replaced Riera with Yossi Benayoun.
In the 77th minute Chelsea won a free-kick in a dangerous
area when Lampard was brought down by Gerrard.
The challenge earned Gerrard a yellow card and Chelsea
almost went two goals in front but Drogba was just wide of
the right-hand post with his free-kick.
Chelsea's goal was now under siege and Torres wasted a
glorious chance to level the scores when he shot wide in the
Substitute Malouda then settled the outcome when he slid the
ball home from close range in injury-time.
There were two late chances for the Reds, though, with
Hilario brilliantly denying a thunderbolt from Gerrard and
Benayoun dragging a great chance wide of the upright.