5th October 1997
LIVERPOOL (2) 4 (Berger 20, 35, 57, Fowler 63)
CHELSEA (1) 2 (Zola 22, Poyet pen 85)
LIVERPOOL: James; Jones (McAteer), Kvarme, Babb, Bjornebye; McManaman, Ince, Carragher, Berger; Riedle, Fowler
CHELSEA: de Goey; Petrescu (Flo), Clarke, Sinclair, Le Saux; Lambourde, Wise, Poyet, Di Matteo; Zola (Gullit), Hughes
Liverpool had made an indifferent start to the 1997-98 season and were lying 11th after 8 games. They had just lost at West Ham having already suffered defeat at home to Leicester in their first home match. Chelsea were in 6th and had faced a tough few matches against Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle. They’d only picked up 4pts and now they travelled to a place where they’d only won once since 1935.
Twenty minutes in and Ince played a ball from the back and found Berger, who’d made a good run forward. Graeme Le Saux miss-judged the bounce and Berger lobbed the ball over de Goey and gave Liverpool the lead. Gianfranco Zola then grabbed an equaliser within minutes and the game had come alive. Chelsea then made things harder for themselves as Lambourde was sent-off after just 26 minutes. It prompted Ruud Gullit to bring himself on for his first appearance for seven months. Then with ten minutes of the first half remaining, Bjornebye exchanged passes with McManaman down the left and his low cross into the area found Berger unmarked and the Czech international fired it into the net to put Liverpool back in front.
When Chelsea lost here the previous season they were scared rigid by Berger’s pace when breaking from midfield. He scored two that day and then twelve minutes after the break, Ince clipped the ball over the defence and Berger was away again. He rounded de Goey and slipped the ball into the empty net to complete his hat-trick, his first in English football.
Barely six minutes later, Berger turned provider as he laid on a goal for Robbie Fowler. Liverpool were rampant once again and the home crowd took great delight in asking the visiting manager to let them know the score. Fair play to Gullit who merely pointed to the number 4 on his back. Gus Poyet then converted a penalty after McAteer had brought down Chelsea’s walking beanpole, Flo. It was more than they deserved but they were a well beaten team, again.
Liverpool finished 3rd in the League finishing 2pts ahead of Chelsea, who won the FA Cup that year.