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Christian Benteke hits late leveller as Liverpool avoid tricky Hazard to secure draw against Chelsea

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea

By Robert Jones

Published 12/05/2016

Liverpool's Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Chelsea's Burkina Faso midfielder Bertrand Traore (L) vies with Liverpool's Ivorian defender Kolo Toure during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Chelsea's Bertrand Traore (left) and Liverpool's Emre Can (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PA
Roberto Firmino of Liverpool is closed down by Nemanja Matic of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chelsea's Eden Hazard (centre) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with teammates during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Chelsea fans display a banner in support of John Terry during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet gestures during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino is chased by Chelsea's Nemanja Matic during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Pedro (L) vies with Liverpool's English defender Nathaniel Clyne during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino misses a chance on goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool is closed down by Asmir Begovic of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp smiles as he waits for kick off in the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (centre) and Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink (right) before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Scarves and flags on sale before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea's Cesc Fabregas (centre) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Chelsea's Dutch interim manager Guus Hiddink (R) is greeted by Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 11, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Club scarves are sold on a merchandise stall prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool fans walk outside the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
A view of the Paisley Gateway at the Kop end before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
A view of the Paisley Gateway at the Kop end before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
T-shirts, masks and flags on sale before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Scarves and flags on sale before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Flowers and scarves are left outside the ground to remember those people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Scarves on sale before the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: A general view showing the ground redevelopment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Fans walk past a merchandise shop prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: Liverpool UEFA Europa League Final t-shirts are sold prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11: The match programme is displayed prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
File photo dated 04-05-2016 of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2016. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will create a small piece of history in his 50th match in charge of the club but he hopes to be able to write a bigger chapter in the future. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read Mike Egerton/PA Wire

This time next week, Liverpool might be a Champions League club once again, while this game will be forgotten about.

For that to happen, though, they will have to play a lot better than they did against a Chelsea team that contained John Obi Mikel as a makeshift central defender.

The Nigerian midfielder has never before appeared so comfortable in a Premier League game at Anfield.

Everything that Liverpool have been in European games on this ground in 2016, they were not here. Chelsea, decimated by absentees, were seconds away from victory.

Liverpool's push for an equaliser had been gentle rather than forceful. Chelsea's lead could have been greater had Pedro released a more convincing finish from Eden Hazard's wonderful defence-splitting pass with minutes to go.

In injury time, however, just as it seemed as though Jurgen Klopp might spend the next few days concerned about momentum being lost with a European final looming, Christian Benteke capitalised on Asmir Begovic's mistake from Sheyi Ojo's cross to steal a point.

There was more riding on this for Liverpool than there was for Chelsea, who would finish in their lowest league position in 20 years regardless of the result here. Theirs was a skeleton side, with John Terry suspended, Branislav Ivanovi and Diego Costa injured and Thibaut Courtois sitting in the directors' box because of sickness.

Liverpool's team, meanwhile, reflected Klopp's likely selection policy in next week's Europa League final against Sevilla, with the same XI that started against Villarreal last Thursday in the semi-final featuring again.

There was no sense, however, that this was a full scale-drill. The pace was of a testimonial standard.

It would be tempting to describe Hazard's opener, indeed, as a thing of beauty.

Neither Emre Can nor James Milner were able to regulate the Belgian's movement from a central position. His goal came from Chelsea's left: slaloming, skipping and accelerating past four opponents before easing a shot past Simon Mignolet from the edge of the box.

Yet at no point did a Liverpool player apply necessary pressure to prevent the run and it reinforced the idea that Liverpool were preoccupied by other challenges.

The pattern did not change a great deal in the second half. When Adam Lallana found Sturridge, it seemed as though Liverpool might equalise in front of the Kop but Begovic was there to deny him. When Joe Allen swung in a deep cross, Sturridge was there at the back post and again his finishing failed him.

This was Klopp's 50th game in charge of Liverpool. That it came just 217 days since his appointment last October meant that he had reached the landmark quicker than any Liverpool manager in history.

Having played so much, especially since Christmas, it seemed as though it might have been up to Klopp to determine whether this performance was a consequence of diverted attentions and players being afraid to commit to the high intensity levels that he usually demands, or, in fact whether Liverpool are getting tired at exactly the wrong time.

Perhaps Benteke's late intervention will stop that inquest happening.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Toure (Ojo 88), Moreno, Lallana (Benteke 75), Milner (Allen 75), Can, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge. Subs not used: Lucas, Bogdan, Skrtel, Smith.

Booked: Can, Toure, Milner.

Goals: Benteke 90.

Chelsea: Begovic, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Mikel, Baba, Fabregas, Matic, Willian (Kenedy 57), Hazard, Pedro (Loftus-Cheek 90), Traore (Abraham 74). Subs not used: Alexandre Pato, Amelia, Palmer, Tomori.

Booked: Azpilicueta.

Goals: Hazard 32.

Att: 43,210

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Belfast Telegraph

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