I don't normally cut and paste, but this Telegraph report was good.
None of Chelsea’s starting XI had ever won the European Cup, a contrast to their bench that contained four men who possess winner’s medals, and the craving of Guus Hiddink’s chosen ones was inescapable. Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and Michael Essien bossed midfield.
Essien’s marking job on Steven Gerrard drained the life out of Liverpool while Martin Skrtel chose the worst moment to have a shocker in defence. Rafa Benitez’s zonal marking system was also ripped to shreds. The only down side for Chelsea was the booking for their captain John Terry, which rules him out of next Tuesday’s meeting at the Bridge. A tie that had begun so promisingly for Liverpool now looks set for disappointment.
The Champions League anthem never stood a chance before kick-off, the Kop launching into the 12-inch version of "You’ll Never Walk Alone", and nor did Alex and John Terry when Gerrard and Torres, Liverpool’s big noises on the pitch, came calling after only four minutes.
Riddled with panic as Gerrard lurked, Alex skied a clearance over Chelsea’s box. Anfield sensed early blood. Dirk Kuyt was first to the loose ball, initially running away from Petr Cech’s area before brilliantly reversing the direction, sending the ball spinning down the inside-right channel for the overlapping Alvaro Arbeloa.
Those Liverpool supporters not already standing leapt to their feet in anticipation. Chelsea’s defence was ragged, the famed organisation patently absent. Vulnerability was in the air, and Liverpool had emerged from the tunnel in merciless mood.
Liverpool’s prominence in recent weeks has partly been rooted in the buccaneering spirit of their full-backs, Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio. Arbeloa’s response was superb, drilling the ball to Torres, whose finish was perfection, the ball struck hard and fast and sent flying past Cech. Chelsea’s keeper had no chance. His defence had let him down. And when presented with a chance in front of goal, Torres rarely lets Liverpool down.
The tie remained evenly balanced, Chelsea knowing that an equaliser immediately secured them the initiative. A classic game unfolded, Chelsea opening up and pouring forward. Opportunity started knocking in front of a concerned Kop.
Didier Drogba, the spearhead of Hiddink’s 4-1-2-2-1 formation, squandered two good chances to level before the break. When Salomon Kalou ushered Drogba through, Pepe Reina stood firm, making a good save. Then when Michael Ballack swept the ball in from the left, Drogba lost Jamie Carragher but his finish was poor, hammered into a relieved Kop.
The waves of blue rolled with increasing frequency towards Reina’s goal. Ballack started to reveal his true class, although he was deceived by a wonderful piece of skill from Alonso, who needed only a cape and a shout of "ole’’ to complete the matador’s touch. Behind Alonso, Martin Skrtel rose to the aerial challenge.
Until seven minutes from the break, Liverpool repelled everything that came their way. Chelsea would not be denied. When Gerrard slid in to block a cross from Kalou, Chelsea had a corner and their big guns moved up. All eyes were on Terry and Alex, Ballack and Drogba. Mistake.
No Liverpool player paid enough attention to Ivanovic. As Florent Malouda’s corner swirled in, Ivanovic made his move, brushing aside Alonso and jumping between Skytel and Albert Riera. Muscling opponents out of the way, the Serbian had eyes only for the ball, which he sent powering past Reina.
Liverpool rallied. Roared on by fans who made this another unforgettable European night at Anfield, Liverpool stormed forward, looking to regain the lead. Kuyt went close as the half concluded, his strong shot pushed away by Cech.
Now attacking the Kop in the second half, Liverpool still had to escape the assorted traps Hiddink had set them, notably Michael Essien shadowing Gerrard. As Chelsea gained in confidence, the bouts of abuse towards Lampard and Terry quickened. Lampard’s weight, Terry’s mother: the merits of both were discussed at length.
Chelsea took the barbs in their stride, not losing their composure, rarely giving away possession. Lampard, wearing a tribute to his mother stitched into his boots, a remembrance of the anniversary of her tragic death, delivered a superb display in front of his proud father, who sat in the directors’ box admiring his son’s work-rate.
Lampard was everywhere, clearing in front of his defence one moment, then powering forward to send Drogba through on goal. Having beaten Skrtel, Drogba placed his shot past Reina but there was the indefatigable Carragher covering back to clear off the line.
Chelsea were seeing more of the ball, Liverpool being restricted to counter-attacks. In the Kop, a large banner reading "FEARLESS" was raised. Yet the fears were found in Liverpool’s defence, Skrtel enduring a particularly awkward evening.
On the hour, Reina was caught by Terry, hardly maliciously but deeply unnecessarily as the Liverpool keeper clearly had the ball safely in his clutches before Chelsea’s captain came wading in. Claus Bo Larsen, the Danish referee, brandished a yellow card that triggered outrage in the blue ranks as it ruled Terry out of the second leg.
Anger swept through Hiddink in particular. Chelsea’s coach charged down the line to protest, a rare display of dissent from a manager who has seen it all before in a long, distinguished career. The sense of injustice stirred something deep within Chelsea, something that triggered an astonishing reaction.
Within seven minutes they were leading 3-1. Liverpool had failed to learn from Chelsea’s corners. Again their zonal marking was vulnerable to runners arriving late, as Ivanovic did again. Speeding on to a Lampard corner, the mystery man of Chelsea FC really made a name for himself with another emphatic header.
Liverpool were stunned, their defence a shambles when the ball was whipped in from the flanks. Three minutes later, Ballack teased a fine pass down the inside-left channel and Malouda was off and running, hurtling towards the byeline before crossing. Drogba, sliding in ahead of Carragher, made it 3-1. Anfield was momentarily silenced, all the noise now coming from Chelsea throats. Crowing was not the least of it.