Eden Hazard put the Londoners ahead with a brilliant solo effort in the first-half, which substitute Christian Benteke cancelled out to rescue a point for the Reds, heading in Sheyi Ojo’s cross after a fumble from Asmir Begovic in stoppage time.
It was a poor team performance from Liverpool – who played like a side with bigger and more important matters on their minds – denying themselves the chance to enjoy the perfect preparation ahead of next week’s Europa League final showdown.
Here is how the media assessed the final game in front of the Anfield’s historic Main Stand.
The Express’ Paul Joyce wrote:
If he is not necessarily daunted by that challenge, then, equally, he will hope the side he is expected to entrust with lifting the trophy in Basel next Wednesday was simply saving their best until then.
The combination of the two Liverpool substitutes for the equaliser reflected well on the team’s attitude and manager’s decision to go for broke, but he will need much more from what appeared his Europa League final side when it reconvenes against Sevilla next week.
Simon Hughes for the Independent also assessed:
For that to happen, though, they will have to play a lot better than they did against a Chelsea team that contained John Obi Mikel as a makeshift central defender.
ESPN’s Richard Jolly echoed:
He will need a radically improved performance if they are to secure their first silverware of his reign.
Minds may well have been elsewhere with the Europa League final next Wednesday, certainly Anfield was very subdued, but it was a little alarming to see the eleven that may face Sevilla struggle so badly.
Klopp downplayed the result’s importance, but this was a point that will maintain the feelgood factor at Anfield under the charismatic German before their second final of the season.
Reporters gave their views on Liverpool’s sloppy display and why the Reds struggled to impress on the night.
Even when Liverpool got into threatening positions, they never convinced; Sturridge, for one, saw a glorious opportunity spurned on the hour when Begovic smothered a drive from close range.
Kelly thought the Reds’ attacking players had a “collective off day”:
It wasn’t that Liverpool didn’t press hard for an equaliser after Eden Hazard’s stylish opener; it’s just that very little came off for the home side as their attack-minded players had a collective off day and everyone sought primarily to steer clear of injury.
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe thought Klopp’s side lacked composure in their play:
Liverpool lost composure and patience too soon once the momentum shifted against them but they have more stamina under Jürgen Klopp, who could argue his side started the game with greater quality and intensity.
Perhaps they were reluctant to jeopardise their place in the final, especially in light of Liverpool’s atrocious luck with injuries this season.
Their usual enthusiasm to get stuck in was replaced with standing off, which encouraged Hazard to treat five markers as though they were invisible as he fired in the opener.
The Reds lost their way alarmingly after making a flying start against the Londoners.
The approach play was slick but there was no end product.
Echo colleague Andy Kelly thought the Reds were “lacking in sharpness”
The Reds were ponderous, slow in thought and movement, lacking in sharpness especially when asked to go and get the ball back.
Hughes also pondered whether the display was a result of diverted attention or overdue tiredness:
Having played so much, especially since Christmas, it seemed as though it might have been up to Klopp to determine whether this performance was a consequence of diverted attentions and players being afraid to commit to the high intensity levels that he usually demands in case of injury ahead of a big game, or, in fact whether Liverpool are getting tired at exactly the wrong time.
However, Liverpool did receive praise for producing another display of the never-say-die spirit Klopp has installed in his squad.
Exactly a month after succeeding Brendan Rodgers, the German demanded his side push until the final whistle if they’re in need of a goal following a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.
“We decide when it’s over,” he said authoritatively, and Liverpool did just that, continually asking questions of Asmir Begovic until the Belgian bagged the equaliser.
Pearce also commented on Liverpool’s much-improved spirit:
Back then this was a group of players resigned to their fate when the chips were down. Shoulders hunched. Anfield was a place where the Reds’ resolve was easily broken.
Not any more. Not on Klopp’s watch.
It seemed merely a stinging soundbite at the time, but as his Anfield tenure has developed, the supporters have realised they are not hollow words, but a philosophy, as a revived Chelsea discovered painfully in the dying seconds here.
And after the final home game of another season, Pearce reflected on a transformed Anfield under Klopp and the optimism for the future:
Anfield is now a very different place. Both hope and pride spring eternal. The applause raining down from the stands to Klopp and his players was a show of true appreciation.
Some of the memories of this campaign will last a lifetime.