Liverpool's inefficiency in front of goal undermined their inspiring performance against Chelsea
Liverpool put on an inspired performance against a monotonous Chelsea on Tuesday night as the Reds looked to get the best start possible in their League Cup semi-final. With Jose Mourinho clearly setting up his side with buses in mind, the away side did nothing the whole game aside from net a penalty. Liverpool deserved a win but they just couldn't quite find another goal and being clinical in front of goal was once again a problem, this time, the only problem.
As the game kicked off with the last line of our anthem still ringing around Anfield, it was clear this was going to be an electric atmosphere. Brendan's side burst out of the blocks and immediately caused issues for a Chelsea side containing stars such as Hazard and Costa. Admired for their attacking abilities, it was evident that they wouldn't necessarily be on display tonight as Jose Mourinho opted once again to play the dreary negative football he is always so quick to criticise.
Chelsea very defensive in their approach
Don't get me wrong, I'm quite a big fan of a tactically sound defensive performance, it's one of the reasons I have an interest in Italian football (more so older Calcio) but when it's Mourinho playing it, it just riles me up.
With the Reds piling on the pressure almost constantly it definitely felt like we were in the ascendancy, surely we would find a goal?
But we didn't. Instead, a silly mishap from Emre Can saw Chelsea awarded a penalty. It was the correct decision, but they didn't deserve a helping hand at all. Hazard stepped up on 18 minutes and easily converted the penalty leaving Liverpool suddenly on the back foot after such a bright start.
Gary Cahill and John Terry were struggling to deal with the flair and pace of Raheem Sterling who as always was simply unfazed by the calibre of his opposition. Martin Skrtel on the other hand had Diego Costa neatly tucked in his back pocket, aside from his inability to sway Martin Atkinson's decision not to give a handball when Costa handled the ball in the box.
I personally think this was a penalty for us, but I've since read differing opinions. I even heard one person say that it wasn't a penalty because he was on the floor. What? Is that an addition to the rule now? No handball if you're lying down?
Liverpool dominated the second half and should have won
Anyway. A goal behind Liverpool went into the second half once again creating constant attacks and troubling the Chelsea defence. After all our chances though it was clear it was going to take something special for the Reds to get themselves on the scoresheet and Raheem Sterling provided just that.
Just before the hour mark after an assist from Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling exploded on a run into the box. With four Chelsea players surrounding him, not one made an attempt to make a challenge and as his pace projected him into the box, the youngster finished with ease to bring Liverpool level.
It was a fantastic goal from Sterling and I, as I'm sure everybody did, went a tad crazy. We thoroughly deserved to be right in this game and after some Sterling magic it was game on.
Six minutes after the Sterling goal, Steven Gerrard had a chance to claim glory for the Reds but his strike came off the left hand upright. His face said it all and it was agonising to watch that effort sail away from the goal on the rebound.
The Reds continued to press Chelsea and their next best effort at goal came via a stunning Adam Lallana strike as the ball weaved in the air, Lallana himself was almost celebrating only to watch Courtois save.
As the game drew to a close it was hard to comprehend that despite over 20 attempts at goal, Liverpool were walking away with a draw. A deluded Jose Mourinho suggested a draw was the correct result, he evidently didn't see his sides two attempts at goal and pretty much naff all else then?
As the Chelsea manager made strategically placed compliments about the Liverpool crowd again after the match, the mind games have once again begun for Mourinho who will absolutely relish the fact that his side are taking a drawback to Stamford Bridge after barely moving a muscle.
Well he can jog on cause from now until next Tuesday I hope the Liverpool lads use the disappointment of playing so well and failing to win as a juggernaut to get through to the final.