Chelsea were dealt a huge blow in their fight for a Champions League place as two goals in five second-half minutes saw them lose 2-0 against Liverpool at Anfield.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were both on the scoresheet while the visitors had chances of their own, most notably Eden Hazard hitting the post after those goals.
The Reds were always favourites for victory as they continue to chase their first ever Premier League title and they were keen to impose their fast-paced pressing game from the kick-off. Former Chelsea winger Salah could have got the scoring started inside six minutes but his volley at the back post was tame and easy for Kepa to collect.
The Egyptian wideman was then up to his usual tricks in the penalty area as he theatrically went down under no contact from David Luiz. Referee Michael Oliver didn’t point to the spot nor did he caution Salah for simulation, leaving fans in confusion to what had happened.
The Blues’ hopes of a shock victory were dented massively halfway through the first half as Antonio Rudiger tried, and failed, to continue the match after he was injured. If he is to be unavailable over the coming weeks, it could be detrimental to the hopes of a top-four finish.
The hosts’ pressure increased as the game reached half time and although Chelsea were able to maintain the goalless scoreline in the opening 45 minutes, the hosts were getting ever closer to breaking the deadlock.
It took Liverpool just six minutes after the interval to do just that and unlock the previously tightly-sealed visiting backline. Jordan Henderson was at the heart of the move and he danced towards the byline before standing up a terrific ball towards the back stick where Mane had been waiting to aim his header into the back of the net.
A sigh of relief could be heard on Merseyside but that relief soon turned into ecstasy as the lead was doubled a matter of moments later and out of absolutely nothing it must be added. Salah picked the ball up on the right touchline 25 yards from goal before moving inside and arrowing a wonderful strike into the top corner, leaving Kepa with no chance whatsoever.
It gave Maurizio Sarri’s men a mountain to climb and that could have been made much easier had Hazard put away his side’s best chance of the game but his strike came back off the base of the post following a great first touch.
Within 60 seconds the Belgium international had another fantastic opportunity to bring Chelsea back into the game but after he was picked out brilliantly by Willian in the box, a smart save from Alisson denied him his 17th league goal of the campaign.
The away side continued to dominate the game for a period of about 10 minutes but after failing to make their pressure pay, the title challengers regained control of the contest. They were able to see out the victory to claim three points that took them back to the top of the table, leaving the South Londoners in 4th, clinging onto the final Champions League place by the skin of their teeth.