Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea are on cloud nine after Liverpool draw

By Graham Luney

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s celebrations after the final whistle at Anfield last night said it all as the Blues extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to nine points.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s close-range header cancelled out David Luiz’s superb opener but it could have been worse for Liverpool as Diego Costa’s late penalty was saved by Simon Mignolet.

Arsenal’s defeat by Watford and Tottenham’s two dropped points at Sunderland gave Conte reasons to be cheerful but he’s warned his players not to lose focus.

“We stay top of the table and that is a great achievement but it is important to focus on ourselves,” said Conte.

Conte added: “There are 15 games remaining and 45 points. It’s important to draw against a really good team and now we must focus on playing Arsenal (on Saturday).

“I think at the end of the match we could have won. It was a very tough game, both teams tried to play with intensity. I’m pleased. We saw a different game to when we played Liverpool and lost at home.

“It’s a pity Diego Costa missed the penalty because he played very well. We had different chances to score goals, but we must be happy with the result and the performance because it is not easy to play away at Liverpool.”

Man of the match Luiz was more than happy to take away a point from the trip to Anfield and revealed that his goal was opportunistic rather than pre-planned.

He said: “It’s never easy to play here, it’s never easy to win points here. We had a good opportunity to win the game but in the end if you look at everything, it was a good result.

“It is never easy to play here, the crowd is amazing. As a footballer you need to be able to play these games — it is very nice to come and play here.”

On his stunning free-kick, the Brazilian said: “Sometimes you need to try to surprise.

“It is not the best moment to try free-kicks because of my knee. I have not been training too much and with free-kicks you need to train everyday.

“But sometimes you need to feel the game and take the opportunity and I’m happy.”

Pool boss Jurgen Klopp said his side must hold their nerve.

“I said before the game, and people didn’t like it, but this wonderful, powerful club needs to keep its nerve,” said Klopp whose team had lost their previous three home games.

“Not everything is bad because we lose. This team is outstanding in attitude so let’s do the best we can and see where we end up at the end of the season.

“The results tonight were good for us, but we must continue to fight.”

Liverpool goalkeeper Mignolet and goalscorer Wijnaldum both showed their disappointment to only come away with a point.

Wijnaldumsaid: “I’m happy how we came back in the game — it is always a difficult match against Chelsea.

“I thought we started the game very well and played good football in their half and the biggest chance was the free-kick.

“I think we were disappointed and didn’t do things that we did before like pressing, and then we scored the goal. It is a good point but I am disappointed.”

Mignolet added: “The feeling is that we are disappointed. And if you do that against Chelsea, who are leading the Premier League, then it shows how hungry we are and I think we deserved the three points.”

On Luiz’s free-kick, he said: “I didn’t hear the whistle, then he hit it earlier. It was a good free-kick in the end but obviously you have to give yourself a chance to save it but that didn’t happen.”

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