Chelsea were tactically on top, stopping the threat of both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres and subjecting Rafa Benitez’s men to a miserable trip back up to Merseyside.
With the Reds struggling to conjure up chances against a high Chelsea backline it was a former Liverpool player that broke the deadlock on the hour mark.
Nicolas Anelka awkwardly tucked away a low Didier Drogba cross after a before then impressive Javier Mashcherano had lost possession in midfield.
Liverpool went looking for an equalizer, bringing on the attacking options of Yossi Benayoun and then Ryan Babel but to no avail.
Fernando Torres perhaps should have done better with a couple of headed chances in either half, but on the whole the service wasn’t there for the Spaniard and he was muscled out of the game by Carlo Ancelotti’s team.
The final blow came just seconds into injury time when Drogba’s turn and pace beat the Reds defence on the right hand side of the penalty area. His low cross found Florent Malouda lurking to comfortably tap home from close range and seal Chelsea’s victory.
Liverpool will be disappointed to have now suffered more defeats this season than in the whole of last campaign and now lie six points adrift of their opponents today.
On the plus side, Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva had an impressive game, at times commanding the Reds midfield and making both crucial tackles and forward play. After much criticism this season, credit should go to him.
Liverpool now face a two-week international break before their next Premier League game away to Sunderland on 17th October. It may be good timing however for Benitez’s men to regroup and more time for £18million midfielder Alberto Aquilani to retain match fitness. On the basis of this performance, his introduction in English football couldn’t come sooner.
Team Line-ups & Substitutions
Chelsea: Hilario, Ivanovic, A Cole, Carvalho, Terry, Essien, Lampard, Ballack, Deco (Malouda 76), Drogba, Anelka.
Subs not used: Turnbull, Belletti, J Cole, Zhirkov, Kalou, Sturridge.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Insua (Aurelio 83), Carragher, Skrtel, Gerrard, Riera (Benayoun 67), Mascherano, Lucas (Babel 76), Torres, Kuyt.
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Ngog.
Ref: M. Atkinson