Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Christian Benteke snatches late equaliser for Jurgen Klopp's Reds

Liverpool striker Christian Benteke snatched an added-time equaliser as Jurgen Klopp's managerial magic continued at Anfield with a late 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

Having inspired comebacks against Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal in recent weeks, the German achieved it again as one substitute Sheyi Ojo crossed for another to nod home in the second minute of added time.

Up to that point the visitors appeared set to register their third successive Anfield victory as a rejuvenated Eden Hazard scored his fourth goal in as many matches.

The Belgium international has some ground to recover ahead of Euro 2016 this summer after a disappointing season but has discovered his old spark again.

A month out injured with a hip problem seems to have had a restorative effect on the 25-year-old who had previously looked a shadow of the man who was last season's player of the year.

However, he was ultimately upstaged by his international team-mate who capitalised on goalkeeper Asmir Begovic only managing to palm Ojo's cross into the air.

It ensured Klopp's 50th match in charge - reaching the landmark in 217 days to comfortably beat the 254 it took both Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan - and the last at the ground before it undergoes a substantial facelift with a redeveloped Main Stand, did not end in disappointment.

It did not look that way as the seconds ticked down as after an early flurry of activity his side - barring injury the one he will select in the Europa League final against Sevilla in Basle next week - played like one with bigger things on their mind.

A Chelsea team missing striker Diego Costa (injured), captain John Terry (suspended) and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (ill) defended better and crucially had one player in Hazard who actually looked like he was up for a match of no significance.

Even victory in their final game at home to champions Leicester will not improve Chelsea's ninth-place position, but if Hazard is indeed back to his best next season he should be a different prospect providing, of course, he stays at Stamford Bridge for the arrival of new boss Antonio Conte.

The visitors weathered the early pressure with Baba Rahman blocking Phillippe Coutinho's shot, Begovic saving from Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino firing into the side-netting after a heavy touch took him wide from Daniel Sturridge's excellent release pass.

Hazard gave Simon Mignolet one warning with a low shot which was parried before Kolo Toure cleared the danger but there was no second chance for the Belgium goalkeeper from his international team-mate in the 32nd minute.

Hazard skipped past Lallana, Firmino and Dejan Lovren - whose attempts at tackling had Europa League final written all over them - to bend a delicate shot inside the far post.

Bertrand Traore, in for Costa, curled a shot wide after Mignolet came for an over-hit pass and then retreated while, after the break, Hazard, Pedro and Traore tested Mignolet further.

Begovic's one task in the second half was to stick out a hand to brilliantly deny Sturridge one-on-one.

Further evidence, if any were required, of Hazard's renewed vigour came in the 80th minute when he burst into a sprint into his own penalty area to prevent Nathaniel Clyne crossing to substitute Benteke.

Klopp refused to give up on the result, however, and kept most of his big names - including Sturridge - on for the full 90 minutes in the knowledge few will play at West Brom on Sunday.

The last throw of the dice saw him replace centre-back Toure with Ojo and the young winger almost volleyed in the equaliser with his first touch but then crossed for the equaliser.

Match preview

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.

The German brings up his half-century against Chelsea in just 217 days - the fewest by any of his predecessors with Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan the closest to him on 254.

All those matches, which include a run to the Capital One Cup final and next week's Europa League final against Sevilla, have been packed in since he took over in mid-October, during which time he was also admitted to hospital to have his appendix removed.

It has been something of a whirlwind introduction to English football for the former Borussia Dortmund boss but he would not have had it any other way.

"It was intense but fun too. Everything was new so it was interesting," he said of his near-seven months in charge.

"Time goes by so fast, I can't believe this season is nearly over.

"Usually you need one and a half seasons for this. That is funny.

"The jobs to do and everything you need to think about keeps you awake but it is good."

Klopp rejected suggestions such an intense start to his Anfield reign might have taken its toll on him.

"I have no problem in going on holiday afterwards but in this moment I really look forward to these three games (they finish off the Premier League campaign at West Brom on Sunday)," he added.

"Everything is cool. Don't worry, everything is okay. Since my appendix is out I am nearly new. A lot of things have happened since I've been here.

"I am not the reason - or my situation or form or shape is not the reason for something going wrong.

"We will be really ready for these three games."

While technically Liverpool can still qualify for Europa via the Premier League the focus is undoubtedly on their final in Basle where a win there would see them skip the second-tier competition and guarantee a return to the Champions League.

"I like this all or nothing, it is true," admitted Klopp.

"There is not one per cent negativity around the final."

John Terry out for Chelsea

John Terry may have played his 703rd and final game for Chelsea as he begins a two-match suspension in Wednesday's Premier League clash at Liverpool.

Thibaut Courtois returned from a ban in goal in the 3-2 loss at Sunderland, when Terry was sent off for the second time this season to incur the season-ending suspension.

Striker Loic Remy (groin) and defender Kurt Zouma (knee) are out.

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink on the suspended John Terry: "He has been training in recent days. Of course, when you come on the pitch for training after being sent off it's not the most beautiful face. He started to lift up his morale and trained okay.

"Of course, not being there in the last two games is a blow for him and for us."


Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno, Lallana, Milner, Can, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge. Subs: Benteke, Lucas, Allen, Bogdan, Skrtel, Smith, Ojo.

Chelsea: Begovic, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Mikel, Baba, Fabregas, Matic, Pedro, Willian, Hazard, Traore. Subs: Alexandre Pato,Kenedy, Amelia, Loftus-Cheek, Palmer, Abraham, Tomori.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

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