Luis Suarez scored a last-gasp equaliser after appearing to bite Branislav Ivanovic
So Liverpool earn a draw thanks to a player who shouldn't have been on the pitch. Hurrah! To be fair, they deserved it based on their second-half performance. As for Chelsea, they go fourth, one point ahead of Tottenham and one behind Arsenal, who have played one game more. But the story isn't really the match, sadly, the story is that Luis Suarez appeared to bite Branislav Ivanovic. A great player, but what exactly is there to say about that? Not much other than Luis Suarez, 26, appeared to bite Branislav Ivanovic. Thanks for reading. Bye.
Duh. What else did you expect? Sturridge swings in a cross from the right and Suarez gets in between David Luiz and Ivanovic to head past Cech from inside the six-yard box. Well done, you've proven everyone wrong. What a guy.
90 min+6: Suarez sends one straight at Cech from 25 yards out.
90 min+3: Suarez wriggles away from a couple of challenges on the right of the area and finds Henderson, who stabs his shot wide from 15 yards. "I think there's an innocent explanation for the supposed biting incident - Suarez was just showing Luiz how he was going to imitate Rafael Nadal's trademark winner's pose when he collects the PFA player of the year trophy in a few weeks," says David Wall. "Of course, that might not be needed now seeing as that friendly miming has been willfully misinterpreted by all of you anti-Liverpool journalists."
90 min+2: Liverpool win a corner on the left. They take it short and Shelvey shoots well over from the left of the area.
90 min+1: By the way I'm not ignoring all your Suarez emails but I've got about 50 in the last 10 minutes, so you do the math.
90 min: Frank Lampard replaces Juan Mata. There will be six added minutes.
90 min: Shelvey's drive is blocked by Ivanovic, who unfortunately only has one arm now.
89 min: Luis Suarez is 26 years old. Just think about that.
87 min: Sturridge could easily have been sent off here. He caught Bertrand late and on the shin with his studs. Instead play went on with Bertrand down and Liverpool won a corner. It's cleared. David Luiz was livid with the referee there.
86 min: Gerrard backs in on the left at the area but can only shoot straight at Cech as he swivels.
85 min: What a miss from Shelvey! The outstanding Sturridge fools the Chelsea defence with a ridiculous backflick, which he managed when the ball was in the air, to Henderson. He rolled it to the left for Shelvey, and he carefully placed his shot into the side-netting. Liverpool have been TOOTHLESS in attack.
84 min: When he was at Ajax, Suarez received a seven-match ban for biting an opponent. I wonder how much he'll get this time.
83 min: Victor Moses replaces the limping Oscar. "Suarez is such a bad, bad guy. I can't believe he's bitten someone again," says JR in Illinois. "My wife on the other hand is not surprised at all. She said to me "Once a biter, always a biter." Though now Suarez has the look of a man who can already sense that he has crossed the line of decency yet again and that he is going to face a lengthy ban. I'd say he needs at least ten games. The dude is a menace."
82 min: Shelvey's first contribution is to foul Oscar, who's down in a heap, and he's booked. Meanwhile news reaches us that biting is a term of endearment in Uruguay.
81 min: Maybe Suarez is teething.
80 min: Downing off, Shelvey on.
79 min: "I think Imran has a point as you totally failed to point out that Ivanovic pushed his upper arm into Suarez's mouth," says Mark Judd.
I also forget to mention that he'd attached a steak to it as well.
78 min: Yossi Benayoun, another former Liverpool player, replaces Eden Hazard.
78 min: I cannot wait to see what defence Liverpool's fans and Brendan Rodgers will dream up in support of Suarez.
77 min: Downing shoots. Throw-in.
76 min: Sturridge, who has been excellent, dances to the byline and somehow stands up a cross to the far post. Azpilicueta heads it behind. The corner comes to nothing.
74 min: Here's Suarez on Ivanovic. Mmmm! If only he had some salt. Make your own minds up. Meanwhile he's just shot straight at Cech from 20 yards out.
73 min: Well, I can see Kings Cross station from this office...
71 min: Marvel at this email from a special guy I like to call Imran Zaidi.
"You biased retard," he begins. "Why don't you point out that Mata dived when Lucas got a yellow? As for Torres (Carra's yellow) he made the most of it and there probably wasn't even any contact even the commentators thought so. Why don't you do your commentary in an unbiased fashion if not make better use of yourself by resigning or perhaps jumping in front of a train."
Open journalism is great.
70 min: After Liverpool struggle to deal with another corner, Hazard sees a ferocious effort from the edge of the area deflected over. The next corner comes to nothing.
69 min: It genuinely looks like Suarez did bite Ivanovic. The two were wrestling in the area, so Suarez grabbed Ivanovic's arm, moved his face towards it and appeared to take a nice, meaty chunk out of his bicep. That's ... weird. What a weirdo. I mean really.
68 min: It's a poor effort from Suarez. He hit it low and through the wall but it went a few yards wide.
67 min: Now Carragher's furious at not being given a penalty after being pushed over by a combination of Luiz and Ivanovic. It was just outside the area and it's a free-kick instead. It's bang in the centre and Suarez will take it. This is a great chance.
66 min: There's a suggestion that Suarez just bit Ivanovic. I really, really need to see a replay of this.
64 min: Carragher goes into the book for catching Torres. He's furious with Torres for going down. Maybe he should try not kicking him.
63 min: "Justice! cry the people of Ghana and Mansfield Town," says Neil Waters. Yes, how could I forget about Mansfield?
61 min: Ramires fires a pass through to Hazard but he couldn't take the ball in his stride.
58 min: "Right, can Liverpool just try really, really hard not to concede any more corners?" pleads Matt Dony.
Liverpool were level for all of five minutes. Hazard keeps his cool, stroking the penalty into the bottom-right corner, Reina going to his left. Suarez just stands there and shakes his head. Oh Luis, what have you done?
56 min: Suarez has been booked. I think it was for protesting. Hazard is still waiting.
55 min: Oh the irony! Mata curls a corner to the far post and Suarez flicks it away with his hand. Kevin Friend has no doubt it was handball. Justice for Ghana!
54 min: And now Lucas is booked for fouling Mata. That goal had been coming though. Liverpool have been a different side since the break thanks to Sturridge. He didn't really celebrate by the way. That was the second time he's scored against an old side this season.
53 min: Azpilicueta is booked for something or other.
This is an absolutely fantastic goal. One of the best team goals you could wish to see. From the halfway line, Carragher lofts a ball down the inside-right channel, looking for Downing. He has his back to goal and he produces a lovely flick to Suarez with the ball in the air. It looks like he's going to shoot from the edge of the area but instead he dinks a sublime cross with the inside of his right foot that drifts agonisingly over Ivanovic's head. In the six-yard box, Sturridge just cushions it past Cech on the volley with his left foot.
50 min: For crying out loud. From Mata's corner, Enrique slices his attempted clearance up into the air and towards his own goal. Under pressure from Ivanovic, Reina can only punch it clear, before Torres slashes a wild volley high and wide from an angle.
49 min: A fine move from Chelsea has Liverpool chasing shadows. Ramires picks up the ball in the D and nutmegs Enrique, finding Torres in the clear on the right. He fires it across goal and Carragher sends it behind for a corner.
48 min: Sturridge has so much talent. He can be infuriating but he's got all the tools to be a top, top, top player.
47 min: Great substitutions of our time. Sturridge pirouettes away from Hazard and then cracks a superb left-footed shot across goal, past Cech and on to the left post from 25 yards out! What an effort! Moments later, Johnson fizzes a cross right across the face of goal with no one able to apply a decisive touch for Liverpool.
46 min: Here we go again. Liverpool have brought off Coutinho and introduced Daniel Sturridge, who'll be desperate to get one over his old club. Expect a lot of shots. In fact, Sturridge almost creates Liverpool's equaliser with a stunning piece of play. He beat Mikel on the right, cut on to his left foot and then played a clever disguised pass through to Gerrard. He hit it first time but Cech stuck out a foot to divert it behind. What a save.
"I think Liverpool's first half performance was neatly summed up by the moment Stewart Downing managed to be successfully tackled by the corner flag," says Nick Pettigrew.
He's playing a different sport. Just not in a good way.
A peep of the whistle brings an end to a soporific first half. Chelsea lead thanks to Oscar's header. Liverpool are on the beach. Not literally.
45 min+1: One minute of the added stuff. Henderson plays a reverse-pass through to Suarez on the left. The angle is tight and David Luiz is there, and Suarez can only shoot weakly at Cech, who saves comfortably.
43 min: Almost every Liverpool shot from long range has been expertly struck against the nearest Chelsea player.
42 min: "Though I agree with your comments on Reina's goalkeeping ability I do caution you that he is the best post-championship Master of Ceremonies in the business," says Carlos Chiquete. "You have to keep him on. Just in case." The Spanish David May.
41 min: Cech finally has to make a meaningful save. Downing cuts in from the right and slips a pass through to Suarez on the right of the area. He's in the clear but Cech beats away his fierce first-time shot. It wasn't an especially difficult save to be honest.
40 min: This is quite something from Liverpool, who get the ball and then immediately give it back to Chelsea, usually in their own half. Henderson is the latest culprit but Hazard can't take advantage, his pass through to Mata too close to Reina. "Therein lies the difference between the sides today. Mata whips in a corner, onto Oscars' head, goal.....5 minutes later, Downing whips in a corner, and hits the advertising hordings on the far touchline," says Neil Waters. "That one incident represents the size of the rebuilding job Rodgers has on at LFC."
39 min: Liverpool lose the ball in their own half - it's dangerous business if you're rubbish, this BrendanBall - but Mata's pass through to Torres is too heavy.
37 min: Torres is booked after clattering Carragher with a stray arm to the face.
36 min: "To be fair, he is wearing a mask," says Jamie Ayres. "You probably just didn't recognise him."
35 min: Just remembered that Torres is playing.
33 min: Coutinho isolates Azpilicueta on the left of the area but the Spaniard does well to take the pace off his low cross. Suarez tries to flick it on but it's easy for Cech.
31 min: When Oscar scored, Alan Smith criticised Liverpool for letting "one of the smallest men on the pitch" score a header. That sounded strange at the time, so I've done some research like a proper journalist. Oscar is 5ft11.
29 min: Henderson is booked for a foul around 35 to 40 yards from goal. David Luiz is going to shoot. He's actually going to shoot. He doesn't lack confidence, does he. The Brazilian unleashes a wobbler that dips and swerves through the air. It's straight at Reina, but he contrives to make an almighty mess of it, almost spilling it behind the line. Liverpool's fans exhale in horror and then breathe a sigh of relief as Reina just manages to claw it away from the line. They'll have you believe that Reina's one of Europe's best. Pull the other one. A vastly overrated goalkeeper.
28 min: True or false: Rafa Benitez celebrated by whipping his shirt off and running down the touchline, sliding Di Canio-style across the turf and flicking a couple of Vs at The Kop.
They can do this with it. Mata curls it to the near post and no one bothers going with Oscar, who darts back and then directs a fine header high inside the near post. He actually beat Jamie Carragher to the header and although Reina got a hand to it, he couldn't keep it out. You know you need to work on your defending at set-pieces if you let Oscar score a header from a corner.
25 min: Hazard goes on a wee skedaddle down the right and wins Chelsea's first corner. What can they do with it then?
24 min: Suarez tries to feint past Mikel and slips instead. It's been that sort of game so far. Up the other end, Oscar shoots miserably wide from 25 yards.
23 min: There's not a lot going on at the moment. Something happen! Now! "Rafa had his faults but none of his successors have gotten close to his lowest Liverpool points total," says Niall Mullen. "I imagine if Brendan did surpass the relatively modest total of 62 points he'd erect a gold statue of himself with a suitably gnomic inscription like 'He who yields and loses, loses twice but he who fights and wins, wins thrice'."
21 min: "There might be only one Brendan Rodgers, but Rafa, as well as having a far more glory-garlanded CV, also has a full blown Brentian "funny little beard"," says Ryan Dunne. "Poor Brendan indeed."
20 min: Mata and Hazard shimmy past a gaggle of Liverpool midfielder, before the Belgian lays the ball off to Ramires, who lets fly from 25 yards out. It's straight at Reina but hit so fiercely that the goalkeeper decides simply punching it away is the best course of action.
18 min: Stewart Downing shoots from 25 yards out. It wasn't a goal.
17 min: Liverpool are dangerous down their right flank. Johnson and Suarez combine to release Henderson, whose backheel is blocked behind for a corner. It's sent to the far post and under pressure from Suarez, Azpilicueta heads away.
14 min: As an afterthought, the Liverpool fans remember to remind us that there's only Brendan Rodgers. Meanwhile on the pitch Oscar wriggles into the area on the left but can only shoot tamely at Reina. Oh yeah, the football.
13 min: "Rafa's right, your fans are shite!" chant the wits in the Liverpool end, before they strike up a huge chant in support of Benitez. Poor Brendan Rodgers.
11 min: But suddenly Chelsea break and cut Liverpool open at will. Hazard slips a pass through to Torres on the right but he's just forced slightly wide and Enrique blocks his cross out for a throw-in, to the considerable delight of the home fans.
10 min: It's all Liverpool so far. Coutinho tries to scoop a pass through to Suarez but he puts too much on it and Cech gathers.
8 min: Suarez is dropping off pretty deep and that's causing Chelsea a few problems, especially as Henderson hasn't been shy to break forward. He can't quite latch on to Suarez's through-ball though.
7 min: Gerrard swings in a free-kick from the right. Mikel heads it away, as far as Henderson, who flashes a volley well over the top from 25 yards out.
5 min: Liverpool go so close to opening the scoring. Henderson finds Suarez 20 yards from goal and he turns and instantly prods a pass through to Johnson, who had run off the dozing Bertrand. He just had to check his run though and ended up poking the ball well wide of the left post as Cech came out to close him down. Agger looks fine to continue by the way.
3 min: The first boos for
Rafa Benitez Fernando Torres, who tussles with Daniel Agger and ends up fouling the Dane, who's wincing and feeling a knock after an awkward fall. Martin Skrtel is warming up.
2 min: Johnson breaks down the right flank and curls an inviting cross at some pace into the middle. Coutinho flings himself at it but can't Houchen the ball past Cech. He makes no contact with it at all, as it goes.
Peep! Chelsea get the game underway. They're kicking from right to left and keep the ball for four seconds. Well done. Coutinho immediately gives it away and then Lucas fouls Hazard. An excellent start from both sides, as they mean to go on.
There's also a banner that reads "Thank you Anne" in the Kop. That, of course, is in memory of Anne Williams, whose teenage son Kevin died in the Hillsborough Disaster. Sadly she died this week and there's a minute's applause in both her memory and also for the events in Boston this week. "There's only one Anne Williams" reverberates around Anfield.
There's a banner in The Kop with Rafa Benitez's face on it. He has a wistful smile on his face in the Chelsea dug-out. Luckily he didn't do a Ron Atkinson and sit on the wrong bench.
Here come the teams. They're all smiles in the tunnel as they walk out. How pleasant. I'm sure they'll still be smiling and joking by 5.45pm this evening.
"Po' Daniel Sturridge," says Paul Ewart. "What has he done to deserve this? He was signed as a centre forward, played well as a centre forward, got injured and hasn't played as a centre forward since. Frankly I'm bemused, Is he training badly? carrying an injury? Or is Brendan showing some steel? If so, our skipper should sit the odd game out too. I'm concerned, Poor Daniel seems like a confidence player to me. I can see Daniel waving goodbye if we're not careful....."
Well when you've got Stewart Downing...
ATTENTION MARK WILLIAMS.
"Firstly, apologies for the humidity from my country," says Gabriel Chua. "Secondly, I would expect most bars to show it, generally where most men show up."
"Go to CHIJMES (Church of the Holy Infant Jesus something something something) - it's a giant church courtyard with lots of British pubs, large screens, and rambunctious behaviour," says Rahul Keerthi. "Yes, we have pubs in our churches. That's how we roll. Like the wheels of the bus. Round and round. In case you were wondering."
Tottenham have beaten Manchester City 3-1 after a stunning second-half turnaround. They had trailed for ages to Samir Nasri's early goal for the visitors, but some canny tactical tweaks from Andre Villas-Boas saw Spurs hit back with three brilliant goals in seven brilliant minutes. Harry Redknapp deserves a lot of credit for that Spurs win. What a manager. They're level on points with Chelsea and two behind Arsenal, who they have a game in hand on. City's defeat means that Manchester United will win the title when they beat Aston Villa tomorrow night. Roberto Mancini put Joleon Lescott on up front in stoppage time. I blame Brian Marwood.
And here are the teams. Fernando Torres starts for Chelsea. John Terry doesn't.
Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique; Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Downing, Suarez, Coutinho. Subs: Jones, Assaidi, Sturridge, Coates, Shelvey, Coady, Skrtel.
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Bertrand; Mikel, Ramires; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Moses, Ferreira, Terry, Ba, Benayoun.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
"I just spent 12 hours on a plane from London to Singapore listening to the two year old next to me telling anyone who would listen, the wheels on the bus go round and round," says Mark Williams. "Nobody felt compelled to explain to the little bugger that we weren't on a bus; perhaps his constant Rafa-esque repetition of the "bus facts" sent other fellow travellers into a nursery rhyme coma...but not me. I now must do something to knock the earworm out of my head. So, would any your MBM'ers be able to recommend a venue in downtown Singapore to watch the game? Yours in humid desperation."
There's a returning hero at Anfield this afternoon. A beloved Spanish son who enjoyed some of the best years of his career during his time at Liverpool but has since moved on to Chelsea. A man whose achievements will be duly recognised by the Liverpool fans, who still view him as a legend, even though he's now one of them and, above all, A man who will be given a hero's welcome. But enough about Fernando Torres! Let's talk about Rafa Benitez!
Heh heh! Gotcha! But seriously - because there's such a thing as too much fun - let's talk about Rafa. Serious faces, guys. Although Benitez has been back at Anfield since he was sacked in 2010, hanging around the place a bit like David Brent hung around Wernham Hogg after he was given the old heave-ho, this is the first time he's been back as an opposing manager. It's going to be a strange experience for him. For once, his appearance in the technical area will be greeted by cheers rather than jeers. Liverpool fans like him a bit more than Chelsea's, see.
Although apparently Brendan Rodgers has been a bit cool about Benitez. "Managers are different," he said when asked about rumours The Interim One wanted his old job back last summer. "Some managers will speak about other jobs. Some won't. I won't speak about another manager in a position no matter how much I might want the job. It takes different types."And then: "I'm sure Rafael Benítez will get a great reception. It is interesting. In the season he won the Champions League Liverpool finished on 58 points [in the Premier League] and outside the top four. Gérard Houllier had 60 the year before and arrived in fourth. Everyone knows the history of that season and winning the Champions League bought another season in there to move the club forward."
Oh yes, everyone does know the history of that season, ghost goals and all. But it's Chelsea who arrive at as Anfield as European champions. Until May, anyway. Now the main concern is that they're in the competition next season and they warmed up for this match nicely by winning 3-0 at Fulham on Wednesday night, thanks to a stupendous goal from David Luiz and two from John Terry. Whether that's enough to keep Terry in the Chelsea line-up this afternoon remains to be seen and although he's spent the last few days in the headlines, talking about how he can play three games in a week, Benitez seems less sure and has rarely used him in the bigger fixtures. Although Terry sat out the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City last week and look what happened there.
So a win for Chelsea will lift them back into third place while for Liverpool the season is more or less over, although they'll probably relish the chance to make a nuisance of themselves this afternoon. The Champions League is out of the question for them this season and it would appear that the Europa League is too, but Rodgers will tell you that this has been a season of transition, that it's all slowly coming together. Maybe. Liverpool have certainly shown glimpses of their potential since January, not least in the weeks after Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho had been signed, but their last two games have been 0-0 draws with Reading and West Ham. It's like Benitez never left really.