WILLIAN rescued Chelsea with a late goal in a game where players chose the time to remind the world of their talents.
The Brazilian, who has been in and out of Antonio Conte’s team this season, netted a beauty five minutes from time.
That cancelled out Mo Salah’s 65th-minute striker against his former club – crazy to think that he was barely given a sniff of action during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Willian’s goal was only the second Liverpool had conceded at Anfield in the league this season and stemmed a run of three successive league wins for the home side.
Chelsea remain third, three points clear of Liverpool, whose frustration was exacerbated by the knowledge fourth-place Tottenham Hotspur had earlier dropped points against West Brom.
Chelsea were left three points below second-place Manchester United and could now find themselves 11 points behind Manchester City if the leaders win at Huddersfield Town on Sunday.
The team sheets were almost as notable for who was on the bench as for who was in the two starting XIs, with Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Willian all kicking their heels in the dug-outs.
Klopp used his programme notes to urge his side not to forget how well they had played in the first half against Sevilla, but for all their early possession here, it was Chelsea who possessed the keener edge.
He was the first player to threaten, gathering a pass from Danny Drinkwater and cutting in from the left before dispatching a low shot that Belgium team-mate Mignolet had to turn behind.
It was Hazard’s through-ball that obliged Mignolet to slide out and save at Drinkwater’s feet and it was from Hazard’s lay-off that Davide Zappacosta warmed the Liverpool goalkeeper’s palms from 20 yards.
The ensuing corner – taken by Hazard – produced a goal-mouth scramble in which both Morata and Gary Cahill threatened, while Marcos Alonso curled a trademark free-kick narrowly wide.
Not until the 41st minute did Liverpool – for whom Daniel Sturridge started up front – muster a shot of note, Salah whipping an effort fractionally wide from the right.
Hazard was involved in penalty shouts either side of half-time, first escaping punishment for a nudge on Philippe Coutinho and then seeing his own appeals dismissed after tripping over James Milner’s foot.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
Klopp moved Salah into a more central position in the second half and it served to enliven the hosts, Thibaut Courtois almost turning Sturridge’s cross into his own net and saving from Jordan Henderson.
As the game opened up, Chelsea also threatened – Zappacosta zipping the ball across the face of goal and Morata turning Drinkwater’s cross wide at the near post – but it was Liverpool who went ahead.
Tiemoue Bakayoko failed to cut out Coutinho’s pass and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s prodded pass freed Salah to tuck his 10th goal of the league campaign – and 15th of the season – past Courtois.
Salah, who is the league’s top scorer, did not celebrate his goal in what may have been a tribute to the over 300 victims of Friday’s bomb and gun attack in his native Egypt.
He was prevented from being the match-winner when Willian drifted across the Liverpool box from left to right before hitting what could have been an overhit cross that floated over Mignolet and beneath the crossbar.
Salah came close to restoring Liverpool’s lead in stoppage time, but his snapshot was pushed aside by Courtois.
Fact, Stats, Goals & Lols
- Liverpool failed to have a single shot on target in the first half. This won’t have gone down well with the home fans who were bemused to see Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Giorgino Wijnaldum all benched.
- Tiemoue Bakayoko was brought in to replace Nemanja Matic, who was flogged to Manchester United. He has now had enough games to “bed in” but is a shadow of the player he was supposed to replace.
- Eden Hazard got all the plaudit at half-time, but in reality he shone because most of the other players out there were so poor. Despite that, it will cause Chelsea fans some concern should he want to test himself elsewhere.
- It was always going to be Salah wasn’t it. He has been their best player so far this season and netted today against his former employers, who hardly played him. But the Egyptian international decided not to celebrate the goal, perhaps in respect to the hundred of his countrymen and women killed in a Terror attack earlier this week.
- Mo Salah has now scored 10 goals in his first 13 Premier League games – the joint-most by any Liverpool player in their first 13 games (level with Daniel Sturridge).
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
What They Said
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson: “They had some good chances to be fair, but we are a little bit disappointed as I thought we could cling on to the three points.
“It was two good teams against each other, but I think Chelsea will be happier with the three points.”
On Salah: “It’s a fantastic finish, I thought he scored another late on, but he was brilliant again.”
Chelsea captain Gary Cahill: “I thought we deserved to equal the game up. They had some good spells in the first half, but we came on strong in the second.
“We are delighted we got back into it, but would have liked all three.”
Dream Team Ratings
Liverpool: Mignolet 6, Gomez 7, Matip 7, Klavan 6, Moreno 7, Milner 6, Henderson 6, Coutinho 6 (Lallana, 89 5), Salah 7, Sturridge 6 (Wijnaldum 66 6), Oxlade-Chamberlain 7 ( Mane 89 6)
Subs (not used): Karius, Firmino, Robertson, Alexander-Arnold
Goals: Salah (64)
Chelsea: Courtois 6, Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 6, Cahill 6, Zappacosta 7 (Willian 82 7), Drinkwater 6 (Fàbregas 73 6), Kanté 7, Bakayoko 6 (Pedro 76), Alonso, E Hazard 8, Morata 6
Subs (not used): Caballero, Rüdiger, Moses, David Luiz
Goals: Willian (85)
Star Man: Hazard (Chelsea)