Reds end Chelsea run to go top

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Liverpool ended Chelsea‘s 86 match unbeaten home run – and their own personal run without a win at Stamford Bridge under Rafa Benitez.

Xabi Alonso scored the only goal after 10 minutes, a deflected effort from the edge of the box, and he also strook the post from a free-kick midway through the second half.

The win puts Benitez’s side three points clear at the top of the Premier League table and arrived without the inclusion of the injured Fernando Torres.

Having already beaten Man United without Torres – and Gerrard – and having won here today, the national media may now begin to realise we do not rely on our star players so heavily. The amount of times you’ve heard so called pundits tell us how Liverpool will only win the league if they keep Torres and Gerrard in the team.

Albert Riera continued to impress on the left of midfield with some neatly constructed moves often flowing through the Spaniard. Goalscorer Alonso continued his good early season form on the back of a tough summer, Mascherano bossed the midfield, Carragher was the Carra of 2005 and the full backs did their jobs well.

Liverpool are showing signs of Benitez’s old Valencia which were nicknamed ‘the crushing machine’ and results like today display the effectiveness of the team.

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BBC Sport Report

Liverpool demonstrated their growing title credentials by ending Chelsea‘s 86-game unbeaten run in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge and moving three points clear at the top of the table.

Xabi Alonso’s deflected 10th-minute goal gave Liverpool victory and shattered a Chelsea sequence stretching back to February 2004 on home turf.

It was a deserved triumph for Rafael Benitez’s side ‘“ achieved without Fernando Torres ‘“ and the first setback for the reign of Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea.

Chelsea enjoyed long periods of possession, but Liverpool never flinched and could have doubled their victory margin had Alonso’s second-half free-kick not hit an upright.

Ashley Cole missed Chelsea‘s best chance after the break, allowing Liverpool to record a victory which is of huge significance in terms of their confidence and self-belief.

If this game was a measure of Liverpool’s ability to finally mount a serious title challenge, then they will have left west London in the knowledge that they now appear to have the ability to finally challenge Chelsea and Manchester United in domestic battle.

Chelsea simply ran out of ideas in the face of a red wall of defensive resistance, with Liverpool’s defence ‘“ led magnificently by Jamie Carragher ‘“ impenetrable.

Scolari’s side opened with a surge of confidence, but took a real knock when Alonso gave Liverpool the lead.

He latched on to a half-clearance, and while his effort carried little power, a deflection off Jose Bosingwa was enough to wrong-foot Petr Cech.

The rest of the opening period was a tale of Chelsea dominating possession ‘“ but Liverpool were superbly organised and carried an ever-present threat of a second goal on the break.

Steven Gerrard almost provided it after 23 minutes with a dipping effort from 25 yards that required the fingertips of Cech to turn it to safety.

Javier Mascherano was offering Liverpool’s defence fierce protection, and an atmosphere of frustration was growing around Stamford Bridge.

But Deco almost provided the equaliser nine minutes before the interval when Gerrard lost possession, and the Portugal midfielder advanced before sending a left-foot shot inches wide.

Chelsea may have enjoyed territorial superiority in the first 45 minutes, but the resilience Liverpool have demonstrated throughout this season ensured keeper Pepe Reina had not had any serious work to do.

Liverpool’s increasing confidence was demonstrated at the start of the second half, with Gerrard pushed into a more advanced role in support of Robbie Keane.

There was a moment of anxiety for Reina after 54 minutes when he brought down Florent Malouda as he raced into the area, but the linesman’s flag had already been raised.

It was Malouda’s final contribution as Scolari made a double change, sending substitutes Franco di Santo and Juliano Belletti, with Salomon Kalou also taken off.

Liverpool sent on Ryan Babel for Robbie Keane ‘“ and they came within inches of doubling their advantage after 61 minutes.

Alonso’s low free-kick left Cech motionless, but for Liverpool it agonisingly struck the base of the post and stayed out.

Cole, having already been booked, ran the risk of a red card with a needless foul on Babel, but the foolish intervention of Mascherano in an attempt to ensure he was sent off ended with a yellow card for the Argentine.

Liverpool had applied pressure points to Chelsea all over the pitch, and as the clock ticked down on their formidable home record, some of the calm and order that had characterised their play had disappeared.

But they fashioned their best chance of the game after 72 minutes, only for Cole to slice hopelessly wide when Di Santo knocked Frank Lampard’s cross into his path.

Carragher defended heroically to block Deco, but Babel then showed his threat with a rising drive that was just inches away.

Chelsea pressed in the closing stages, but never in any convincing fashion on another day when Liverpool confirmed their growing stature.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa (Sinclair 84), Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Kalou (Di Santo 58), Deco, Lampard, Malouda (Belletti 58), Anelka.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Alex.
Booked: Malouda, Ashley Cole, Deco.

Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Kuyt (Leiva Lucas 88), Gerrard, Riera (Hyypia 90), Keane (Babel 60).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Benayoun, Pennant.
Booked: Arbeloa, Gerrard, Mascherano.
Goals: Alonso 10.

Attendance: 41,705
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)