The only Luis Suárez bite that concerned Rafael Benítez at Anfield was the 97th‑minute equaliser that weakened Chelsea's place in the top four. Branislav Ivanovic's arm will recover from the Liverpool striker's shocking act of savagery but the damage to Chelsea, and Benítez's reputation, will be lasting should two dropped points on Merseyside ultimately derail their Champions League status.
If there was an inevitability to Benítez swerving controversy on his return to Liverpool for the first time since his departure in June 2010, and the interim Chelsea manager was more preoccupied with time than teeth in his post-match press briefing, then the same was true of Suárez's final contribution.
The fourth official had signalled for a minimum of six minutes of added time and the clock showed 34 seconds more when Suárez headed Daniel Sturridge's superb cross in off Petr Cech. Benítez was incandescent in his old technical area. Brendan Rodgers' team had made enough chances in a vastly improved second half display to merit the point but arguably Sturridge and certainly Suárez should not have been on the pitch to conjure the late reprieve. Sturridge, whose half-time introduction transformed Liverpool's afternoon, escaped without even a booking for leaving his foot in on Ryan Bertrand. And Suárez? Well, where to begin?
Suárez's last act of the game may well prove his last act of the season, perhaps his last in a Liverpool shirt, once the Football Association review the astonishing 66th‑minute chomp that deepened the stain on his reputation. His final game for Ajax resulted in a seven-match suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal in 2010 and his Liverpool season will be over should another lengthy ban follow the repeat on the Chelsea defender.
For Benítez, however, it was the failure to reclaim third place that hurt most. "It was an emotional return, I was pleased with the reception of the [Liverpool] fans but disappointed with the late goal we conceded, especially because I cannot understand six minutes and 45 seconds [of added time]. The game was over, we had it won and it was a throw-in for us. It is difficult to explain."
The Chelsea manager insisted he did not see the Suárez incident but did predict a top-four finish. "If you are in control that means you have a great advantage and that is not the case," he said. "But we have a very good team and I believe we can do it. I am confident."
And to think this hugely contentious game opened amid great respect. Benítez's name was sang throughout by the Kop but he was not the only subject of tribute. Anne Williams, the inspirational Hillsborough campaigner who died on Thursday, three days after defying doctor's orders to attend the 24th memorial service, and the victims of the Boston marathon bombing were honoured with a minute's ovation before kick-off.
There were predictable jeers for Fernando Torres whenever the former Liverpool striker touched the ball or left his mark on their central defence. Daniel Agger landed awkwardly after a nudge from the Chelsea forward in the second minute, and was fortunate his left knee did not buckle and Jamie Carragher received a flailing arm in the face when challenging for a high ball. Torres received a yellow card and, later on, a little retribution on the back of his calf. Rodgers did himself few favours afterwards by drawing parallels with the Torres elbow and the Suárez bite.
Liverpool appeared preoccupied with the Benítez sideshow in the first half and their distribution and movement paled in comparison with Chelsea's. The midfield contest was not worthy of the name as Ramires and Mikel John Obi intercepted and protected relentlessly while Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard bypassed Liverpool with ease. Carelessness in possession, with Jordan Henderson a frequent culprit, increased Anfield's irritation.
It was a surprise Chelsea led by only one set-piece goal by the interval. Oscar sent a glancing header beyond Pepe Reina's left hand from Mata's corner, having escaped the attentions of both Agger, his initial marker, and Carragher, the defender covering the edge of the six-yard box. Reina almost compounded Liverpool's defensive brittleness when he dropped a David Luiz free-kick behind him, only to gather in front of the line.
Only when Sturridge replaced the anonymous Philippe Coutinho did Liverpool show the energy and invention to worry Chelsea. Sturridge was a man on a mission against his former club, creating a glorious chance for Steven Gerrard seconds after his introduction that Cech saved with his leg and hitting the post with a venomous drive. His goal arrived after 52 minutes when he volleyed home from close range following a flowing Liverpool move involving Carragher, Stewart Downing and finally a wonderful chip over the Chelsea defence from Suárez.
The Uruguay international's afternoon deteriorated when he handled a Mata corner inside his own area and Hazard sent Reina the wrong way from the resulting penalty. Then came his latest bite into infamy as he tussled with Ivanovic in front of the Kop goal and redemption in the form of his 30th goal of the season. It was a fleeting redemption, obviously.
Man of the match Ramires (Chelsea)