Glen Johnson snatched a late winner at the death to snatch 3 points for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
Maxi Rodriguez gave The Reds a deserved half time lead with a clinical finish after a swift move from Liverpool. The lead was shortlived after half time as Daniel Sturridge fired home from close range.
On a day where Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles met their former club, it was infact Chelsea old boy Glen Johnson who had the last laugh on his previous employers to give Liverpool a much-needed 1-2 Victory.
Manager Kenny Dalglish had made 3 changes to the team that faced Swansea. Dirk Kuyt was given the nod as well as Craig Bellamy, who Kenny was hoping would recreate some of the form he displayed over the international break where he was a pivotal figure for Wales against Norway. The team sheet also saw a surprise inclusion for Maxi Rodriguez, making his first start of the campaign.
The game started off lively, both teams were offering attacks and Maxi Rodriguez was nearly through on goal twice, but was denied by John Terry and Ivanovic, muscling him out of the way. The Argentine was looking to capitalise on his rare start and show manager Kenny what he has to offer.
Chelsea also offered a threat on goal, with the likes of Juan Mata, Drogba and Lampard all starting and were nearly ahead on the 10 minute mark. Florent Malouda brilliantly skipped passed right back Glen Johnson, and swung in a dipping cross to the back post, but Mata couldn’t capitalise, flashing his shot across the face of the goal. John Obi Mikel then attempthed an audacious effort at goal from 25 yards out, only for his shot to clear the cross bar.
Chelsea had then appeared to take the lead, as far as thousands in the stadium and at home thought. Didier Drogba won a freekick on the edge of the area and stepped up to take it. The ball emerged to have hit the back of the net but on a second look it had narrowly missed the post and brushed along the outernet. A let off for The Reds.
It was soon Liverpool’s turn to threaten the Chelsea goal once again; John Terry lost the ball in a dangerous position to Dirk Kuyt, who released Suarez, fresh off a 4 goal demolition for Uruguay. But the striker was unable to pick out the advancing Maxi or Craig Bellamy.
Liverpool soon made up for the earlier missed chances. It was Mikel this time that was dispossesed within his own half, quick pressing from Charlie Adam allowed Craig Bellamy to snatch the ball playing a one-two with Suarez before faking a shot to put through Maxi on the left, who was left with the simple task of slotting it past goalkeeper Cech. A precise move saw Liverpool finally convert a chance, which has somewhat become a struggle as of late.
The lead was then nearly extended to two. A defence splitting pass from Lucas Leiva put through Luis Suarez, but the Uruguayans first time cross deflected off David Luiz and nearly nestled into the net.
With Chelsea behind, Villas Boas had to change things. Mikel was replaced with Daniel Sturridge at half time. The change seemed to have had worked, they stepped out the blocks quickly and created a chance instantly. Mata and Lampard had combined cleverly to release Drogba, but the Ivorian could only lift the ball over the bar.
However the equaliser then came on 55 minutes. Malouda was allowed to advance into the box, before his wayward shot found Sturridge at the back post, who made no mistake and tucked it into the corner from close range.
Chelsea were on top and very nearly made it two, a flick on from David Luiz from a resulting freekick was expertly kept out by Reina with an instinctive save.
Kenny Daglish sought to his bench to bolster the midfield. Craig Bellamy made way for Jordan Henderson, another player who glistened during the international break.
An over head kick from Malouda received applause from the Chelsea crowd but that’s where the honours ended as Reina watched it comfortably slide past the post. The frenchman then had the best opportunity of the match to make Chelsea’s second half dominance count but his shot from close range went well wide of the target.
Former reds Torres and Meireles then made their bow, greeted by an array of jeers from the travelling Kop, drowning the cheers from the home fans. But it was Liverpool who threatened, a sublime piece of skill from Henderson saw him skip past Ashley Cole via nutmeg and then evaded a sliding challenge from John Terry, crossing for Downing, who laid off Kuyt but the Dutchman’s shot was quite the opposite of the build up.
On 87 minutes the game seemed to be heading for a draw, with neither team able to deliver a knock out blow. Until Charlie Adam picked up the ball in the centre of midfield and found former blue, Johnson with his trademark left foot pass. The rightback nutmegged Ashley Cole and steamed into the box finding himself one on one with Petr Cech, clinically finishing with his left foot to give Liverpool the spoils. A well earned victory on Stamford Bridge for the second year running.