Blues battle back against Reds
Written By: Robert Halter
Chelsea captain, John Terry made his 600th appearance for the Blues against Liverpool, whose last defeat at Stamford Bridge was back in 2009 but as the end of the year approached for 2013, a new script was written. Although it was the Blues that got off to the worst possible start in the fourth minute, when a crunching tackle by Samuel Eto’o on Jordan Henderson resulted in a free kick being taken by Philippe Coutinho and as Luis Suarez tangled with Branislav Ivanovic, the ball was tumbled in by Martin Skrtel. The Blues reacted and were close to levelling moments later as Eden Hazard’s low drive was pushed out by Simon Mignolet and then hooked away from the goal line by Glenn Johnson. In the eleventh minute, Frank Lampard power housed in a dipping strike that was tipped over the bar by Mignolet, after a neat touch by Willian. But on seventeen minutes, the Blues struck back, after Willian drove forward and as Oscar’s strike cannoned off Mamadou Sakho, it paved the way for Eden Hazard to bend the ball into the right hand side of the net. Following an injury to Ivanovic, after a fierce challenge by Reds captain Daniel Agger, the Blues were forced to replace Ivanovic with Ashley Cole. The game turned around on thirty four minutes, when Willian surged forward to start the move, before David Luiz clipped a pass over to Cesar Azpilicueta, whose cross found Oscar, and at the second attempt, Oscar created the opening for Eto’o, who steered the ball past Mignolet’s reach as the ball crept inside the bottom left corner. On forty one minutes, as Raheem Sterling’s right wing cross deflected back off Cole, an instinctive strike by Joe Allen, produced a superb reflex save by Petr Cech, to push the ball clear. At the start of the second half another injury sustained by Lampard meant the inclusion of John Obi Mikel for the re-start. In the fifty first minute, after a foul by Cole on Johnson, a quickly taken free kick by Coutinho, produced a lofted ball over the top by Henderson which was met by a well timed header from Sakho that bounced off the top right corner of the crossbar. But Chelsea responded in quick succession, as Hazard’s pass was collected by Eto’o and it took a strong block from Mignolet to prevent Eto’o from scoring. In the fifty seventh minute, Coutinho created space for Henderson to cross but Suarez’s volley was comfortably collected by Cech. Liverpool were then forced to replace the injured Allen for Brad Smith. On sixty nine minutes, after taking the ball away from Lucas, a low drive by Oscar swept past Coutinho but went wide of the right post. But three minutes later, Cech was at full stretch to keep out a speculative low strike by Johnson, from just outside the area. Hazard then tried to repeat the exercise up field but his shot missed the target. In a second Reds substitution, Iago Aspas took over from Johnson. With five minutes of normal time remaining, Fernando Torres came on for Chelsea to face his former Reds, after Eto’o was taken off. Torres produced a piece of impact play as he turned past Sakho and found a gap between Lucas and Skrtel before seeing his shot smothered by Mignolet. Near the end, the Reds were dealt another enforced change by replacing Sakho for Kolo Toure. But after Lucas was left reeling from a foul by Oscar, the mood soon changed when referee Howard Webb called time on the contest as the Blues manager Jose Mournho had masterminded a win in the tactical battle with his former Chelsea apprentice and now Reds boss, Brendan Rogers, as just like Boxing Day at Manchester City it was another 2-1 away defeat for Liverpool but back to back home wins for Chelsea, to follow on from their 1-0 victory over Rogers old club, Swansea City.