8th May 2012
LIVERPOOL (3) 4 (Essien og 19, Henderson 25, Agger 28, Shelvey 61)
CHELSEA (0) 1 (Ramires 50)
LIVERPOOL: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger; Downing (Sterling), Henderson, Shelvey, Maxi (Kuyt); Carroll, Suarez
CHELSEA: Turnbull; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand; Ramires, Essien, Romeu; Malouda, Sturridge (Lukaku), Torres
The second half of the 2011-12 season had been a frustrating one. Lying 6th at Christmas, they’d fallen to 9th by the beginning of May. However, they’d also reached two Cup Finals, beating Cardiff in the League Cup and losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup. This fixture came just three days after that defeat at Wembley. Chelsea too were having a disappointing season in the League as they were 6th and needing to win their final two matches to stand an outside chance of getting into the Champions League. If they couldn’t reach 4th then their only hope was to beat Bayern Munich in the Final to come.
Both teams came into this game on the back of defeats in their previous League matches and Liverpool were looking for a repeat of their 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge back in November. After his performance against Chelsea at this venue the season before, Torres, now a Chelsea player, was back at Anfield for the first time. The difference in the two performances could not have been more stark.
Ivanovic nearly opened the scoring when his header hit the post in the 17th minute, but this seemed to galvanise the home side. The partnership of Suarez and Carroll continued to show promise and it was the former who set the crowd alight with his run down the right touchline to hold off Romeu, and then the obligatory nutmeg on John Terry. As he reached the bye-line by the near post, Suarez cut the ball back and Michael Essien, as if to appreciate the quality of the run, finished off the move by tucking the ball into his own net.
Six minutes the home crowd finally had a glimpse of the talent of Jordan Henderson. The player had been subbed in the Cup Final, and was a frustrated figure, but tonight he seemed rejuvenated. Henderson began the move midway in his own half as Shelvey collected the ball ahead of him. He laid it to his left where Maxi, hugging the touchline, saw Henderson’s run and played a well-timed pass to Terry’s left. The Chelsea captain clearly expected the ball to be played to his right as he slipped trying to switch his balance. This allowed Henderson the opportunity to get in on goal and his finish was full of confidence. This season you wouldn’t be surprised to see this from ‘Hendo’ but back in 2012 he was less assured.
Within minutes it got worse for the visitors as Ross Turnbull in the Chelsea goal, was left floundering at a corner and Agger had a simple header to put Liverpool 3-0 up. Stewart Downing, without a league goal for Liverpool, hit the bar with a volley but soon had his chance to break his duck. Carroll was elbowed by Ivanovic and the ref awarded a penalty. Downing took it, and promptly missed, hitting the base of the post. Chelsea were relieved to hear the halftime whistle as they could’ve been trailing by at least 5.
In the second half, Chelsea looked more determined but soon the reality of the fact they were not going to achieve a top four finish seemed to hit them. Five minutes into the half and Ramires grabbed a goal back as he scored from a corner when he misjudged his jump and the ball hit his waist and bobbled in past Reina. But there was no heroic comeback as Liverpool soon restored their 3-goal lead. Turnbull played a goal-kick out to Bertrand in the left back position, and the young full-back was immediately under pressure. He hurriedly passed it straight to his keeper who was just as flustered with his subsequent clearance. The ball straight to Shelvey who was bang in the centre of Chelsea’s half. He controlled the ball and then met it on the half-volley showing great technique to fire the ball like a missile into the empty net.
A 4-1 win was cold comfort for the disappointment of a Cup Final lost but the team had once again outplayed their opponents and were certainly not in the end of season mood.
Liverpool win: 49
Chelsea win: 17
Liverpool goals: 154
Chelsea goals: 77