Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Premier League – Anfield – Wednesday 11 May, 2016
Goals: Benteke 90+3′; Hazard 32′
Simon Mignolet – 5 (out of 10)
While remaining alert when springing off his line, Mignolet provided a shaky presence between the sticks throughout.
Despite making some strong saves, the goalkeeper spilled a number of Chelsea shots into dangerous areas, including from the dangerous Eden Hazard, and endured a heart-in-mouth moment when he misjudged a run from Bertrand Traore.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6.5 (Man of the Match)
Strong and sharp at right-back, Clyne played a key role in exploiting Baba Rahman and John Obi Mikel when pushing forward, though his efficiency was nullified by poor passing out to him on the flanks.
Was caught out by the pace of Hazard at times, but recovered well, and it was only when the Chelsea playmaker drifted inside that he troubled the Liverpool defence.
Dejan Lovren – 5
Lined up with confidence alongside Kolo Toure, but this proved something of a facade for Lovren, who stuttered through a 90-minute display marred by poor passing and mistimed tackles.
Not the best of primers for next week’s Europa League final, but this may be a mere blip in what is a strong run of form for the Croatian.
Kolo Toure – 6
Looked troubled by the pace of Bertrand Traore initially, but soon got to grips with the challenge, making some vital blocks and interceptions.
Utilised his pace to aid Liverpool when on the back foot throughout, and stepped out of defence with more confidence than his centre-back partner.
Alberto Moreno – 6.5
Was a little rash in the challenge in the defensive third, but proved largely efficient, keeping Willian at bay.
James Milner – 5.5
Kept things ticking over well in the midfield, but was guilty of slowing down the tempo in the attacking sector.
Was arguably more effective when Jurgen Klopp switched to a diamond formation after the interval, allowing his stand-in captain a freer role in the midfield.
Emre Can – 6
Always wants the ball. Put into some dangerous situations with poor passes from his defensive colleagues, but cultivated space with the composure of a veteran.
However, as with the likes of Lovren and Toure, Can was often off with his use of the ball, completing an unusually low 85.1 percent of his attempted passes.
Adam Lallana – 5
Pressed and pressed and pressed, keeping pressure on Asmir Begovic with driving off-ball runs, but it was a night in which Lallana played up to the stereotype of style over substance.
The England international looked the weak link in buildup play in attack, bar a great through ball to thread Daniel Sturridge through in the second half, and often turned himself into danger when a simpler move was on.
Roberto Firmino – 5
After capping a cameo display at home to Watford on Sunday with Liverpool’s second goal of the afternoon, Firmino struggled to get to grips with the occasion on Wednesday night.
As with Lallana, the endeavour was there, but the attacking quality was lacking, and the Brazilian squandered a excellent opening when put through by Sturridge on 20 minutes.
Liverpool’s creative spark, routinely undermined by a lack of movement in the final third.
Coutinho kept his head up throughout, switching play with the vision of a top-level playmaker, but couldn’t fashion that all-important opening. Like others, guilty of switching off at 1-0 down.
Daniel Sturridge – 5
One of those nights for Sturridge, who cut a disinterested figure for much of the night, as he was heckled by the travelling support…for once playing for Chelsea.
A lacklustre contribution in attack conjured suspicion of saving himself for next week’s final, and while he showed some flashes of technical brilliance, it took the introduction of Christian Benteke to spark Liverpool’s attack into life.
Joe Allen (on for Milner, 75′) – 6.5 – The tempo upped significantly on Allen’s introduction, with the Welshman moving the ball forward with impressive one-touch play.
Christian Benteke (on for Lallana, 75′) – 6.5 – Made the vital contribution with his late header, latching onto a Begovic error to head into an empty net.
Sheyi Ojo (on for Toure, 88′) – 6.5 – It was Ojo’s cross that led to Benteke’s goal, with the 18-year-old capping an energetic cameo with a great delivery from the left flank.
Jurgen Klopp – 6
It would be difficult to fault Klopp for his preparation for Wednesday night’s clash, naming his strongest possible side after resting eight key names in Sunday’s win over Watford.
Restoring the likes of Can, Firmino and Sturridge to his lineup, the German will have expected a more intensive performance, but Liverpool struggled to keep their focus against a bright Chelsea side.
Klopp looked to change this at half-time, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond, with Lallana dropping back and Firmino pushing forward, but it wasn’t until the 75th minute that the tide turned.
Bringing on Allen and Benteke gave the Reds impetus, and it was the latter who grabbed the point in stoppage time; though Begovic’s error handed Liverpool the equaliser, Klopp deserves credit for recognising that this was a game for his plan B.