Ten-man Chelsea deliver defensive masterclass to earn draw at Liverpool

Thomas Tuchel's side hold on for a 1-1 draw after Reece James' red card in first half injury time

Chelsea produced a dogged defensive display to earn a point against Liverpool after being reduced to 10 men at the end of a frenetic first half at Anfield.

European champions Chelsea took the lead in the 22nd-minute when German forward Kai Havertz, the matchwinner in May's Champions League final, flicked home a looping header over Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker from Reece James' corner.

Liverpool had started the brighter but Chelsea were worthy of their lead after growing into the game and looked set to be heading into the break with a crucial advantage.

However, a frantic goalmouth scramble during first half injury time resulted in James receiving a straight red card after he was deemed by referee Anthony Taylor, following a consultation with VAR, to have handled the ball on the goalline.

Egyptian forward, and former Chelsea player, Mohamed Salah buried the subsequent penalty to level the match as the Blues appeared to lose their composure.

"Harsh. I feel sorry for Reece," Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said. "The referee got advice from VAR to give it. He went to the screen to watch one replay.

"We got the double punishment, red card and a penalty - and two yellow cards (for Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy) in the same action. We were angry. But you have to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team. I think the team fought and maybe we had the best two chances in the second half."

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was forced into making changes and sent out Brazilian defender Thiago Silva for goalscorer Havertz for the second half, while Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic replaced N'Golo Kante after the Frenchman picked up an injury.

With the numerical advantage, Liverpool poured forward in search of a winning goal and Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy was called on to produce several key saves to keep his side in the contest. The Senegalese stopper made a total of six saves at Anfield, the most he's made in a single appearance since joining Chelsea at the start of last season.

For the first 15 minutes of the second half, it was backs-to-the-wall stuff from the Blues, but they soon grew back into the match and had chances of their own to claim victory against the run of play.

Kovacic was played through but his effort was saved by Alisson, while Romelu Lukaku had a shot from inside the area blocked.

In the end, Chelsea's defensive structure proved too firm for Liverpool to break down as both sides settled for a point each.

"The red card - I'm not even sure any more if it's the rules or not the rules. You have to accept the decision. He maybe would have changed his mind with moving pictures," Tuchel said.

"We showed great resilience and deserved the point. The first 10 minutes seemed endless. The last five minutes I was actually praying we take what we deserved. It was a hard and a tough one, but a very strong second half defensively."

The result moves both Liverpool and Chelsea on to seven points from three games, with the Blues sitting second in the Premier League table, one place above the Reds on goal difference.

Updated: August 28th 2021, 7:12 PM
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