Red card and goal gift sees champions Liverpool cruise past misfiring Chelsea 2-0 at the Bridge
By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 0 v Liverpool 2
Sadio Mane struck twice as they eased past Chelsea who beat the Blues 2-0 at Stamford Bridge with plenty to spare.
Chelsea lost Andreas Christensen to a red card and Kepa made a cardinal error of tapping the ball to the Liverpool, striker for his second. This was a game where the Scousers demonstrated they will not give up their title without a fight against a side who won’t, on this performance, be challenging anywhere near them.
While Lampard can curse the inability to play his top, top players like Christen Pulisic, and Tiago Silva, he still had new signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz in the starting line-up. The former showed glimpses, especially when he won a penalty - missed by Jorginho, but Havertz looked like a rabbit dazzled by the headlights - he was hauled off.
Neither side dominated the ball in the opening phase of the game, the first shot towards goal came from Gino Wijnaldum on 12 minutes, but his long-range effort was well wide of Kepa’s goal.
It took the Blues 32 minutes to register an attempt on the champions goal - Timo Werner, scuffed a low, left-footer wide of Alisson’s right post.
Not quite sure how Andreas Christensen stayed on the pitch on 44 minutes, when he pulled down Mane. referee paul Tierney brandished a yellow card. But VAR intervened telling Tierney to check the pitch side monitor, and he changed his mind and was given a red card.
Kepa was running out to cut the ball out but the Dane opted to foul the striker instead.
Frank Lampard decided to take off ineffectual Kai Havertz and he was replaced by Fikayo Tomori.
Inevitably the visitors took command of the game, and terrible defending allowed Liverpool to slice Chelsea apart and Firminio’s cross was met by Mane’s unchallenged header and he smacked the ball home past Kepa to put then 1-0 up on 50 minutes.
Kepa plunged the Blues into more disparity three minutes later when the stopper collided a back pass then simply gave the ball to in-running Mane and he slotted the ball home to double the lead.
Mason Mount had a fine right-footed, curling effort on 68 minutes - the ball clipping the top netting of the Liverpool goal, but it was an infrequent foray into the final third of the pitch for the home side.
With 18 minutes on the clock, Werner raced across the inside of the penalty area. Tierney reckoned it was a penalty, after a Tiago challenge. Up stepped Jorginho with his hop, skip and a jump penalty and he squandered the effort, allowing Alisson to tip the ball around his left post.
It was the first time the Italian has missed a penalty for Chelsea.
Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley entered the fray at the expense of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Chelsea face Barnsley, on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup, at the Bridge before heading up to the midlands on Sunday, to take on newly-promoted WBA
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Christensen, Zouma, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Havertz, Werner, Mount
Subs: Barkley, Abraham, Caballero, Tomori, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Azpilicueta
Liverpool, Alisson, AlexanderArnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Robertson, Keita, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Slav, Firmino, Mane
Thiago Alcantara, Milner, Adrian, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Origi
Referee: Paul Tierney