Chelsea 4-0 Liverpool (Sky Sports)
Chelsea Run Riot To Crush Reds
An inspired display from keeper Carlo Cudicini was the bedrock of Chelsea's 4-0 victory over Liverpool, ending the Premiership leaders' 12-game unbeaten run and breathing new life into the title race.
The Italian saved a penalty for the second successive week and added a string of superb reaction saves as Liverpool's second half dominance went unrewarded.
Liverpool had threatened to get back into the game despite first-half goals from Graeme Le Saux and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, before Sam Dalla Bonna wrapped up the points with Chelsea's third and Eidur Gudjohnsen added an injury time fourth.
It was Liverpool's heaviest Premiership defeat for nine years, but the scoreline was reflective more of Cudicini's brilliance and some fine Chelsea finishing than the overall balance of the match.
Liverpool had lost their five previous league games at Stamford Bridge and the writing was on the wall again as early as the third minute when Graeme Le Saux bundled in his first Premiership goal in more than four years from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's cross.
Cudicini pulled off his first fine save just three minutes later, palming Sammi Hyypia's close range header on to the bar for William Gallas to head clear.
It was a sign of things to come and Steven Gerrard was the next Liverpool man to be denied. The England midfielder beat Celestine Babayaro and cut into the box only to force the Italian into a one-handed save low to his left.
A moment of brilliance at the other end doubled Chelsea's advantage and it came from their other outstanding performer, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Almost inevitably, Cudicini started the move with a long clearance, Eidur Gudjohnsen flicked on and the Dutchman burst into the box to rifle a first time shot over Jerzy Dudek and into the roof of the net.
Mario Melchiot and Frank Lampard wasted chances to extend Chelsea's lead but the game's pivotal moment came two minutes into the second half.
Melchiot tripped John Arne Riise in the box and Gary McAllister was handed the chance of hauling Liverpool back into the match. His well-struck penalty was heading for the botom corner before Cudicini stuck out an arm and clutched the ball to his chest.
The Italian denied McAllister again on 63 minutes with a point-blank save, then blocked Riise's shot with his legs when he looked to be wrong-footed and finally vulnerable.
On that occasion Cudicini may have been fortunate, but lucky keepers are a valuable commodity. Jerzy Dudek's value dropped considerably in the final 20 minutes.
With Liverpool still sniffing a comeback, Dudek matched Cudicini's brilliance with a save from Lampard's low shot only for the ball to ricochet into the path of Sam Dalla Bonna. It was a tap-in for the Italian.
That extinguished most of the visitors' fire and they appeared happy to settle for a 3-0 drubbing and nothing worse.
They were denied even that as Dudek's good work again went unrewarded. Gianfranco Zola broke down the left and crossed for Gudjohnsen only for Dudek to deny the Icelander with another sharp block.
Inevitably the rebound sat up nicely again for Gudjohnsen and he buried it in the roof of the net, putting some extra gloss on Chelsea's shiny afternoon.
Man-of-the-Match: Carlo Cudicini. The Chelsea keeper was simply unbeatable. Another superb penalty save summed up a perfect afternoon for the Italian stopper.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Terry, Gallas,
Babayaro, Le Saux (Zenden 90), Dalla Bona, Stanic (Jokanovic 67), Lampard,
Hasselbaink (Zola 88), Gudjohnsen.
Booked: Stanic, Gudjohnsen.
Booked: Heskey, Wright, Murphy.