Sat 19th August 2007 4pm @ Anfield
In days gone by it was the Premier League, or the Football League, who docked clubs points. Today at Anfield, Rob Styles, decided to assume those powers and snatched two points off Liverpool to stay in the good books of the Russian mafia.
On the bright side, Liverpool controlled and dominated the first half. Chelsea struggled to get a foot on the ball for the opening 25 minutes as Liverpool unleashed some neat passing play which was a complete contrast to the Chelsea school of long-balls - Petr Cech managing to find Jose Reina one numerous occassions with his long hoofs upfield. Contrast that to Liverpool with movement right from the back and it was deserving that Fernando Torres should score such a fine goal to mark his Anfield debut.
In the 16th minute after a neat defence cutting pass from Gerrard, who had an impressive game for a man with a broken toe, Torres tore past Chelsea's Ben Haim with a turn of speed and then slotted the ball in the bottom corner past the long arms of Cech, from a tight angle. If his debut goal is anything to go by, then Fernando Torres could be the most natural finisher at Anfield since the early years of Robbie Fowler.
The reds remained fully in control however we again stumbled to get that all important second goal, a failure that almost cost us at Villa last week. On the stroke of half time Fernando Torres took a hit and much of Anfield held it's collective breath. Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Spaniard took to the field in the second half.
The Chelsea team chase Torres, instead of the ref, for a change
Rob Styles the match referee, who by this point had put his hand in his shorts more often than somebody with the clap, decided to change the complexion of the game in one swift movement. When Florent Malouda decided to run in to Steve Finnan, the referee who was stationed approximately 30 inches away (approximately 30 times the length of his penis) decided to award Chelsea a penalty. Frank Lampard waddled up to convert the penalty before delivering his traditional pizza-cutting celebration to the travelling muppet show.
The game lost its momentum. A fight nearly broke out after Frank Lampard cynically tripped Xabi Alonso and the Chelsea players continued to harangue the referee for most of the second half until they got the decisions they wanted. Rob Styles even had time to flash his yellow card at amongst other the Kop, the Scoreboard, Vera who puts the Sausage Rolls in to warm up at half time and at Michael Essien. When the fourth official questioned why he had yellow carded Essien for a second time but not sent him off, Rob Styles decided to correct himself and pretend he hadn't booked him - but had merely shown John Terry the card again - in case he hadn't seen it the first time.
Kuyt had a couple of chances, Riise had a couple of chances and Babel fired in a great cross. But the impetus had gone. Liverpool and Chelsea played out the rest of the match like a chess game. The scoreline may have been 1-1 but Liverpool looked better than in many of the encounters between the two sides in recent years.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Arbeloa, Pennant (Babel 68), Gerrard, Alonso, Riise (Crouch 83), Torres, Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Hyypia, Mascherano.
Booked: Kuyt, Pennant, Gerrard, Carragher.
Goals: Torres 16.
Chelsea: Cech, Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Pizarro 46), Wright-Phillips (Joe Cole 77), Obi, Lampard, Malouda (Alex 85), Drogba.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Makelele.
Booked: Essien, Ashley Cole, Ben-Haim, Lampard, Terry.
Goals: Lampard 62 pen.
Ref: Robert Styles (Hampshire).
Post Match Reaction
(On the penalty decision) "I think it was a mistake," fumed Benitez.
"It is unbelievable. How can you take this decision? It is unbelievable.
"A team that is working so hard how can you change a game like this?"
Asked if he challenged Styles about the decision after the match, Benitez said: "No. It is clear, he can watch the video. He may understand why we are so disappointed. Unbelievable."
(On the performance)
"I think we had some chances against a very good team," added Benitez. "We know Chelsea is a very good team
"Clearly the game was under control but this kind of decision is something you cannot explain.
"Maybe he was under pressure all the time anyway I prefer not to say too much."
"I think Torres showed the qualities he has - pace and great finish it was really good," noted Benitez
"It is important for all the strikers to score but especially for Torres because people will stop him.
"He scored his first goal during pre-season and another goal at home it is very positive for him."
(On if Liverpool deserved to win) "I think so. I think a very, very unfair decision has got Chelsea a point today. But I think we proved today we are capable of challenging.
"I felt the referee didn't play well today. There was a lot of pressure from the Chelsea players and I thought he eventually cracked."
'The only thing I want to say is that in the box there is no advantage law, so because the ball went to Didier and he was alone, there is no advantage law. If the referee sees a foul it's a penalty, so when Malouda opens the legs to let the ball go to Didier, and is kicked from behind, I think it's a penalty.'
'We came here to win the game, I think we showed that with the team we started the game. Many of you think Chelsea comes here and plays Makelele, Essien in midfield, three or four in midfield, but no, we tried to win and we tried for 85 minutes.
'In the last five minutes I'm honest and I say when they play Crouch, Kuyt, Babel, Torres, in that moment I have a giant in my bench, and when I see that giant going in I say "come on its your time".
'I close the door and go home with a point, it's two points Liverpool doesn't get. Yes in that time I know Arsenal draw and Man United lose so I think it's positive but it's fair to say Chelsea tried to win the game like Liverpool did.'
Match highlights and Goals: