ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
Chelsea survived two penalty appeals as Liverpool shaded the Champions League group G clash at Anfield.
Referee Massimo De Santis rejected their claims for a first-half spot-kick when Sami Hyypia was clearly fouled by Didier Drogba and did the same after the break when William Gallas handled a header from Jamie Carragher.
Liverpool dominated the game, especially in the second half, but like so many other teams this season they were unable to break down Chelsea's mean-spirited defence and both sides settled for a a share of the spoils ahead of their Barclays Premiership meeting on Merseyside this Sunday.
Much of the pre-match hype had been about Chelsea's eagerness to exact revenge for last season's semi-final defeat in this competition.
But Liverpool, inspired by Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, showed drive and composure to end Chelsea's 100% record this season.
Reds boss Rafael Benitez restored Steve Finnan, Luis Garcia, Djibril Cisse and Djimi Traore to his line-up, leaving Josemi, Stephen Warnock, Bolo Zenden and Florent Sinama-Pongolle on the substitutes' bench.
Jose Mourinho replaced Hernan Crespo with Didier Drogba as his only change from the side that beat Aston Villa at the weekend, and the Premiership champions started pinged the ball around with ease in the early stages.
Alonso was booked for grabbing Michael Essien and Frank Lampard blasted the free-kick wide from 20 yards with Liverpool barely able to get out of their half at this point.
But they grew in confidence and Lampard should have been booked for a foul on Gerrard as the game ignited.
Gerrard, who almost moved to Chelsea despite leading Liverpool to glory in last season's final in Istanbul, had the best chance of the opening half when he fired over from the edge of the box after good work by Traore. The Liverpool skipper had more time than he realised.
By now the tackles were flying in and worries about having an Italian referee in charge of a very English occasion became evident. He missed some incidents, got others wrong and managed to upset both benches.
Claude Makelele was booked for another foul on Gerrard as Liverpool pushed forward in support of Peter Crouch. A string of corners failed to rattle a superbly defiant Chelsea defence and the Londoners started to take a measure of control.
When Chelsea were beaten in last season's semi-final second leg at Anfield, they were denied the width of Arjen Robben and Damien Duff.
But not this time. Both found space to terrify Liverpool with their pace and although Alonso coolly halted a Robben run with a fine tackle and then a dummy before clearing, the danger of the Dutchman was obvious seconds later when he left Sami Hyypia floundering and produced the best save of the first half when Jose Reina tipped over a rising drive.
The intensity continued after the break; Luis Garcia claimed he was hauled back by Paulo Ferreira as he raced into the box onto a Crouch flick, while the muscular presence of Essien continued to drive Chelsea forward, with Drogba heading over from six yards.
Then Jamie Carragher's header looked to strike Gallas on the arm but Liverpool were refused what looked like an excellent shout for a penalty.
De Santis did not improve and he missed John Terry's body check on Gerrard but booked Robben for dissent. Lampard was next to be cautioned for flattening Cisse.
Liverpool were at Chelsea's throats now, but still could not make the breakthrough.
Shaun Wright-Phillips replaced Robben just after the hour mark as the visitors sought to relieve some of the pressure.
A mix-up between Carragher and Hyypia almost let in Duff, but Reina produced a desperate save. Hernan Crespo soon replaced the Irish winger and, for the home side, Cisse was replaced by Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
By now it was anybody's game. Chelsea had all their attacking options on the pitch and Liverpool continued to strive for the goal their second-half display deserved.
Terry was booked for a foul on Alonso with a minute left and defender Robert Huth replaced Drogba, but Chelsea hung on for a draw.
Liverpool Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Hamann, Luis Garcia, Gerrard, Alonso, Crouch, Cisse (Sinama Pongolle 78).
Subs Not Used: Carson, Riise, Josemi, Warnock, Zenden, Potter.
Chelsea Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry, Gallas, Essien, Makelele, Lampard, Duff (Crespo 75), Drogba (Huth 90), Robben (Wright-Phillips 65).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Joe Cole, Geremi, Gudjohnsen.
Booked: Makelele, Robben, Lampard, Terry.
Ref: Massimo De Santis (Italy).
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|Match Report filed: 29 September 2005|