Four-star Reds batter Blues
Chelsea suffering from Wembley hangover at Anfield
Last Updated: 08/05/12 10:20pm
Liverpool gained a small measure of revenge for their FA Cup final defeat as Chelsea's hopes of finishing in the top four evaporated amid a Wembley hangover at Anfield.
The Reds, beaten 2-1 by the Stamford Bridge side in Saturday's showpiece, ripped into the much-changed visitors from the off, with Blues captain John Terry having an evening to forget.
Terry was nutmegged by Luis Suarez en route to the Liverpool forward's cut-back being diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Michael Essien in the 19th minute, although the Uruguay international could come under the spotlight for tangling with Branislav Ivanovic later in the game.
England international Terry then slipped over six minutes later, allowing Jordan Henderson to burst clear onto Maxi's through-ball and calmly finish into the bottom corner beyond Ross Turnbull. And he was culpable again soon after as Jonjo Shelvey's deep corner was headed back into the six-yard box by Andy Carroll for Daniel Agger to nod home.
Ivanovic had planted a free header against the post with the score at 0-0 while Fernando Torres, whose every touch was jeered on his return to Anfield, lashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar from an acute angle in an action-packed opening period.
Stewart Downing, who had already rattled the bar with one long-range effort, then drilled a penalty against the base of the post on the stroke of half-time after Ivanovic's cynical elbow on Carroll, the fifth time the Reds have missed from the spot in the Premier League this season.
Ramires pulled one back for the Blues five minutes into the second period when he diverted Florent Malouda's free-kick beyond Pepe Reina at the near post, but Turnbull's hashed clearance allowed Jonjo Shelvey to drill into an empty net from long range just after the hour mark.
Roberto Di Matteo's men must now defeat Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final on 19th May if they are to secure a return to European football's top table for a 10th successive season.
The accusation levelled at Dalglish's side on Saturday was that they did not turn up until it was too late.
That was far from the case in front of their own fans as they were 3-0 up inside half-an-hour and should have been even further ahead by the interval.
Suarez's nutmeg on Terry served as an early warning, the Uruguay international dragging a shot wide, while Carroll's decision to opt for placement rather than power saw his shot drop over the crossbar.
The woodwork has been Liverpool's downfall this season but they enjoyed a let-off themselves in the 17th minute when Ivanovic planted a free header against the post at a corner.
But in an eight-minute spell the hosts virtually put the game out of sight with three goals almost from nowhere.
First Suarez produced a brilliant run from wide on the right to get to the byline and his cut-back was turned in by Essien.
A slip from Terry put Henderson through on goal to curl a low shot Ross Turnbull and then, in the 28th minute, Carroll headed down a corner for Agger to nod in from close range.
But a familiar foe returned again as Downing's 30-yard dipping volley struck the crossbar before the England winger drilled a penalty at the post late in the half after Ivanovic had been punished for knocking over Carroll.
Spot-kicks have also been an issue for the Reds with that the fifth out of six in the league which has gone begging this season, with others also missed in their runs to two cup finals.
Chelsea briefly got themselves back in the game five minutes after half-time when Malouda's inswinging free-kick was turned in by Ramires five minutes after the break.
But the hosts did not back down and, if anything upped the pressure, which led to their fourth.
An out-of-position Turnbull mis-kicked straight into the path of Shelvey 30 yards out and he drilled a shot into an empty net.
Dalglish was criticised for leaving Carroll out of the starting line-up for the cup final despite the 23-year-old noticeably improving over the last six weeks in particular.
The club's record signing has had to work hard to not only impress his manager but fans and he must have had a smile on his face after receiving a standing ovation simply for chasing the ball deep into the corner to ensure Chelsea received only a throw in.
It is not what £35million strikers are paid to do but it was greatly appreciated by the majority of the 40,721 at Anfield.
So was the save by Reina, who by his own admission has had a poor season and was at fault for Chelsea's opening goal at Wembley, when he brilliantly denied substitute Romelu Lukaku's header from close range.
Liverpool's onslaught continued late on with Henderson, Suarez and Agger all putting efforts wide but the job had been done in the first half.Di Matteo will now focus on the Champions League final. Dalglish, still to lose a league match against Chelsea in 12 meetings as manager, will already be looking at summer strengthening to catch up with their Blue rivals.
|3||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|11||Shots off Target||5|
|59.4||1st Half Poss.||40.6|
|47.9||2nd Half Poss.||52.1|
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|13||Queens Park Rangers||0||0|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||0||0|
|20||West Ham United||0||0|