Pochettino's Chelsea fight back to draw with Liverpool in Premier League opener

Defender Axel Disasi scores on his debut to rescue a point after Luis Diaz's opener for Reds

Chelsea goalscorer Axel Disasi, left, challenges Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in the Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, August 13, 2023. AP
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Mauricio Pochettino’s first Premier League game in charge of Chelsea ended in a battling draw with against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Debutant Axel Disasi scored on his debut for the home side to cancel out Luis Diaz's opener for Jurgen Klopp’s visitors.

Former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino took the reins in the summer after a desperately disappointing campaign that saw Chelsea finish 12th in the league last term.

The sides also saw one goal apiece ruled out for offside in a helter-skelter encounter that showed how much both would benefit from a midfielder like Moises Caicedo or Romeo Lavia.

Chelsea and Liverpool will renew their transfer battle for a number six after Sunday’s action-packed clash in the Stamford Bridge sunshine.

Mohamed Salah saw an early effort rattle the crossbar before expertly slipping in Diaz to score a goal that the Egypt star then coolly added to, only for it to be ruled out on VAR review.

Chelsea made the most of that let-off. Disasi levelled from a looping header by Ben Chilwell, who soon rounded Alisson to score only for the VAR to rule him offside as well.

The teams played out an entertaining second half without a winner and Salah looked irked to have been taken off as Liverpool hunted a second.

Chelsea ended strongly but made an uneasy start to Sunday’s game. Carney Chukwuemeka was booked in the fourth minute for a high foot and Diogo Jota mishit poorly after good work by debutant Dominik Szoboszlai.

Liverpool played with more edge than the new-look hosts, with Salah recovering a poor Cody Gakpo pass, turning and continuing to curl a 20-yard right-footed effort off the crossbar.

The former Chelsea player started the afternoon with the bit between his teeth and produced a moment of magic in the 18th minute.

Salah collected the ball on the right, ran at home-grown debutant Levi Colwill and fizzed an exquisite left-footed pass through for Diaz to slide home.

Liverpool’s travelling hordes – who had been subject of unsavoury chants from some Chelsea fans – celebrated wildly.

The west Londoners pushed for a leveller, but their defence continued to look susceptible.

Thiago Silva produced a key block to deny Salah and soon afterwards Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant pass put the forward through to coolly dink over new Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

It looked like a potentially decisive goal, only for the VAR’s intervention to give Chelsea renewed hope. Salah had strayed marginally offside and Pochettino’s Blues quickly capitalised.

Alexander-Arnold sent a threatening Raheem Sterling cross aimed for Nicolas Jackson behind his own goal and Liverpool failed to deal with the resulting corner.

Chilwell kept his cool as Chelsea kept the pressure on, looping a header over for Disasi to stretch and turn past Alisson, sparking 37th-minute celebrations.

Within two minutes the volume went up several more notches. Enzo Fernandez‘s nudged pass put Chilwell through to round Alisson and turn home what Chelsea thought was their second, only for the VAR to step in for offside once again.

Salah and Jackson had further shots as a frantic first half ended 1-1, with play continuing in similar fashion when play resumed.

There was an audible gasp when new Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk whistled just wide from the edge of the box, before Diaz’s weak headed attempt hit Jackson’s hand and went behind. He survived a VAR check for a penalty.

Chelsea had chances at the other end. Chilwell forced Alisson into a save, skipper Reece James sent a speculative free-kick over and Jackson raced through to get a shot on goal.

Klopp rang the changes in search of a winner and Salah looked unhappy to be withdrawn, ripping the strapping off his wrist as he angrily walked off the pitch.

Debutant Sanchez nearly gifted Liverpool a late winner, with his poor pass cut out by Alexis Mac Allister, but Darwin Nunez was unable to capitalise.

The substitute striker saw a curling effort from distance defect narrowly wide in stoppage time, with Chelsea then going close on the counter.

Mykhailo Mudryk went around Alisson following Jackson’s lung-busting run, but Ian Maatsen got crowded out from the cutback.

After the game, Disasi spoke of his debut goal, saying: "Chilly [Ben Chilwell] yesterday he told me that I will score today so I'm very happy, very proud of the team because in the second half we played good football and I think we deserved to win. It is good for the future.

"I like to stay in the box when we attack. Today I have the chance to score so it's good for me and the team so I hope in future I will score lots of goals."

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk, said: "We want to make things right. We had a very good 20-25 minutes, with and without the ball, and scored a good goal. After the disallowed goal they came into it.

"We defended quite well in my opinion. It is not easy. Overall it was a very good game that could have gone either way. We take the point."

Updated: August 13, 2023, 7:04 PM