Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool: Gerrard gift puts Chelsea in driving seat
By Joe Carroll.
A stray back pass from Steven Gerrard gave Chelsea a huge boost ahead of the final game of the season after the Blues triumphed 2-0 at Anfield yesterday. The blunder from the Liverpool captain came in the 33rd minute as Gerrard coolly played the ball backwards in an attempt to reach his own ‘keeper. The last player he wanted pouncing on it was Didier Drogba who was quick to respond, rounding Pepe Reina for an easy tap in.
Frank Lampard then added the second shortly after half time when Nicolas Anelka crossed low from the right. The England man timed his run perfectly, beating his man to steer the ball through the oncoming Reina’s legs, and steer his team towards their first Premier League title in four years
Carlo Ancelotti will now take his side into the last game of the season with their fate firmly in their own hands, needing only to either beat Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, or better second place Manchester United’s result; a home tie against Stoke City.
But the circumstances could have been exceptionally different had it not been for the Liverpool skipper’s horrendous blunder that gave Chelsea their opening goal. Until then Liverpool had more than held their own against a Chelsea side desperate for points. Alberto Aquilani came close to scoring but Petr Cech was thankful to see it strike his crossbar rather than burst a hole in his net.
But any hard work up until that point was promptly undone when Gerrard laid Drogba on for the easiest goal he will score all season. A dejected Liverpool side were now there for the taking, and Chelsea took it upon themselves to see the hosts off.
Chelsea had two penalty shouts turned down by referee Alan Wiley before the opening goal; Salomon Kalou involved for both incidents, the first of which the Ivorian was lucky not to be booked for simulation whilst the second incident appeared nothing but a tangle of legs with Liverpool’s Lucas.
When the teams appeared for the second half Chelsea looked eager to capitalise on a down hearted Liverpool side clearly struggling to cope with the shock of the opening goal. While the home team were slowly coming to terms with the disaster, Chelsea were tightening their grip on the Premier League trophy. They nearly found themselves two goals to the good as play re-started when Kalou took on makeshift right back Javier Mascherano, putting a teasing ball across the Liverpool goal. Unfortunately Anelka could not get the touch necessary to steer the ball goal-wards.
But Chelsea’s dominance of play was to be rewarded soon after and their lead doubled when Lampard all but settled the contest. Anelka found space just inside the area to the right of goal and his cross was perfectly timed for Lampard to finish. The Blues’ celebrated in front of their own fans behind the goal, and Lampard’s snooker-potting mime sent a clear message that Chelsea had all but sunk Liverpool, and were ready to do the same to United’s title hopes.
Liverpool, sapped of energy from 120 minutes of Europa League football on Thursday sensed the game was now beyond them, offering very little in the way of attack. At the other end of the pitch they had ‘keeper Reina to thank that the result was not more embarrassing. The Spaniard did extremely well to parry Florent Malouda’s fiercely struck shot in the 67th minute that looked destined for the bottom corner.
The Reds’ stopper then did well to keep Michael Ballack’s 25-yard free kick out and made a great double save from Anelka and then Kalou. Chelsea were dominating this game, and clearly enjoying themselves in the process as they knew they had just taken a giant stride towards the trophy so craved for by the Stamford Bridge faithful.
The whistle sounded to the noise and celebration of the travelling fans who were delighted with the showing of their heroes in blue. The stats don’t lie and Chelsea’s 10 shots on target to Liverpool’s measly 1 said much about this game.
With just one game remaining and one point ahead of rivals United, Chelsea go into their final game with Wigan in confident mood. The man who has grown adept at scoring important goals, Frank Lampard shared his joy at the prospect of clinching the title next week:
“It would be nice to do it in front of our own fans. Obviously Manchester United have a tough game but we’ll never go that far, we have a big game next week”. said Lampard
“In the last 10 games our performances have been fantastic. We’ve got a bit of a head of steam up now and we’re in a good position.”
It is safe to say that Chelsea are indeed firmly in pole position going into the last day of what has been an exciting and unpredictable Premier League campaign. But if football clichés have taught us anything, it has taught us that anything can and often will happen, so expect lots of twists and turns on a grand slam afternoon of Sunday football.
Chelsea: Cech 6, Cole 7, Terry 8, Alex 7, Ivanovich 6, Malouda 7, Lampard 9, Ballack 6, Kalou 7, Anelka 8, Drogba, 7
Liverpool: Reina 8, Mascherano 6, Carragher 6, Kyrgiakos 5, Agger 6, Gerrard 6, Lucas 4, Aquilani 5, Maxi 6, Banayoun 5, Kuyt 5
Will Chelsea be crowned Premier League champions next weekend?…Can Chelsea complete a league and cup double?…Was Steven Gerrard’s back pass a poor pass or a great pass?…please leave your comments below…
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