Liverpool Light Up Anfield In Five Goal Thriller
Liverpool lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time ever after they dismantled Chelsea 5-3 in a ding-dong battle at Anfield.
Goals from Naby Keita, Trent Alexander Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino saw the Reds race into a 4-1 lead, with Olivier Giroud scoring for the Blues on the stroke of half time. Substitute Christian Pulisic proved a catalyst for the visitors as he scored and laid on an assist for fellow replacement Tammy Abraham to bring the score back to 4-3.
But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had replaced Mohamed Salah, put the icing on the cake when he powered home Andrew Robertson’s cross to bring the result beyond the Londoners and to send Liverpool into their title celebrations with three points.
Chelsea, who needed a result — either a win or a point — to help their quest to qualify for Champions League football next season started the better and manufactured an early chance when Reece James’ cross picked out Mason Mount in the box. Unchallenged and unmarked, the England youth international should have done better, but he headed his opportunity harmlessly over the bar.
After ceding such an opportunity, the Reds clicked into gear and quickened their tempo. With crisper passing and angles of running to receive the ball, Liverpool kept turning the screw and it eventually paid dividends in the 22nd minute.
After pressuring Willian and winning the ball back, Keita played a give and go with Wijnaldum before curling a beautiful effort past Kepa, via the underside of the bar, from just outside the box. The Guinean has been the Reds best player since the league resumed and the goal was just rewards for a rich run of form.
Playing in deep sitting a 3421 formation, the Blues were stifling Liverpool’s passing game and the onus came on the hosts’ players to manufacture space by dribbling. Sadio Mane provided that spark when his slaloming run was ended by a foul by Mateo Kovacic, which, mystifyingly, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard contested.
From the resulting set-piece, from 25 yards out, Alexander Arnold beautifully bent the ball past Kepa for his second free-kick in four home league games.
More set-piece pain was to await Chelsea when Robertson’s corner pinballed around the box, only to find Wijnaldum’s right boot and the Dutchman smashed home into the top corner from just outside the six-yard box.
There was one more goal before the break, however, when Mount’s deflected pass bobbled fortuitously to Willian and the Brazilian’s shot was brilliantly saved by his compatriot Alisson, only for the ball to fall for Giroud to tap into an empty net.
The Reds started the second half sharp and spurned a good opening when Mohamed Salah’s final touch let him down after a slick move easily prized the Londoners’ rearguard open.
They didn’t have to wait long for their next goal, though, from the man who had to wait the entire season for a home goal. An enterprising move saw the ball worked wide to Alexander Arnold, and the young full-backs brilliant arching cross landed accurately on Firmino’s head and the Brazilian nodded emphatically past Kepa.
Chelsea, improved by the introduction of Pulisic but also the fragmented nature of the game after a raft of replacements, then came back strongly into proceedings with two quickfire goals. The American glided past four would-be tackles before squaring to Abraham to make it 4-2 before an uncharacteristic mistake from both Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk saw him control Callum Hudson Odoi’s cross before expertly hitting a volley into the top corner.
Fittingly, though, Liverpool would have the last laugh on their big night. Robertson’s powerful run on a trademark counter-attack brought him to the byline and his low, inviting cross found Oxlade Chamberlain in the box and the Englishman powerfully smashed a first time shot home at the Kop end.
A night never to be forgotten for the Reds fans and a game which will similarly live in the memory.
Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
Replacements: Minamino for Firmino, Origi for Mane, Milner for Wijnaldum, Jones for Keita, Oxlade Chamberlain for Salah.
Referee: Andre Marriner