Cole Keeps Blues On Course (Sky Sports)
Liverpool 0 Chelsea 1
Joe Cole's late goal earned Chelsea a fortunate 1-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield to keep their title challenge on track.
Cole, who scored the winner in the earlier meeting between the two sides, came off the bench to score ten minutes from time.
The result was harsh on Liverpool who dominated most of the game and were denied a penalty in the first half when Tiago appeared to handle in the box.
Liverpool began brightly forcing the issue from the start with John Arne Riise missing his kick inside the area and Dietmar Hamann then flashing a shot from range well over the crossbar.
The hosts created their first real clear opening on the quarter-hour mark when Florent Sinama-Pongolle cleverly played Djimi Traore in on goal and the full back fired in a shot which Petr Cech saved with his legs.
Chelsea nearly scored in their first serious attack three minutes later when Arjen Robben broke the Liverpool offside trap to burst clear on Jerzy Dudek's goal from Tiago's pass, but the Polish keeper stood up well to block the Dutch winger's shot from a corner.
From the resulting corner Liverpool almost caught Chelsea on the break with Hamann feeding the ball to Riise and his cross just eluding the open Xabi Alonso six yards out.
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard picked up a booking on 20 minutes with a late tackle on Alonso and although the Spaniard tried to shake the effects of the tackle off he was forced to be substituted for Antonio Nunez.
Liverpool had claims for a penalty waved away on 23 minutes when Claude Makelele had his arms all around Pongolle inside the box, but referee Mike Riley gave the decision in favour to Chelsea much to the dismay of the Kop.
Steven Gerrard created a chance for himself out of nothing two minutes later when he blocked down John Terry's clearance and fired in a shot straight at Cech.
Tiago was gifted a sight of goal for Chelsea three minutes when a slip from Sami Hyypia set him through on goal, but the Portuguese ace hit his shot straight at Dudek.
Liverpool were infuriated seven minutes before the break when Tiago appeared to handle the ball inside the box under pressure from Nunez, but although Riley seemed to have his whistle to his mouth he refused to award a spot-kick much to the annoyance of several home players.
Cech produced a fine reaction save on 42 minutes when Paulo Ferreira kicked a clearance against Nunez which flew towards goal, but the giant Czech keeper was alert to push the ricochet over the crossbar.
Robben drove straight at Dudek just before the break and right on the stroke of half time Jamie Carragher saw a long-range shot land on the top of the net. Chelsea came out for the second half with renewed vigour and on 49 minutes Eidur Gudjohnsen was inches away from getting on the end of Duff's cross from the left with the goal at his mercy.
Riise had a chance three minutes later when Pongolle's deft flicked gave him a sight of goal inside the box, but he took too long to take his shot and Chelsea got back players to crowd him out.
The hosts had another good chance just past the hour mark when Gerrard harried Glen Johnson into a mistake before laying the ball into the path of Garcia on the edge of the box, only for the Spaniard to curl his shot over the top.
Gerrard was trying to inspire his team-mates and he went close with a shot on 70 minutes which fizzed just wide of Cech's goal after the ball dropped invitingly to the midfielder inside the box.
Chelsea broke the deadlock ten minutes from time when substitute Cole picked up a knock-down from Johnson and fired in a shot through a crowed penalty area which took a wicked deflection off Carragher to fly into the net.
Lampard had a chance to grab a second four minutes later when Carragher's clearance fell nicely to the England international on the edge of the area, but he fired his shot straight at Dudek.
Gerrard forced Cech into a good save two minutes later with a free kick wide on the left which the keeper tipped over the crossbar.
Liverpool continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and Traore sent over a cross which Garcia got on the end of, but he could not get enough power on his effort to trouble Cech and Chelsea held on for a valuable win.
Dudek, Carragher, Finnan, Hyypia, Traore, Alonso (Nunez 27), Gerrard, Hamann,
Luis Garcia, Riise (Mellor 86), Pongolle
Subs Not Used Harrison, Diao, Warnock
Booked Luis Garcia, Hamann
Johnson, Ferreira, Terry, Duff (Cole 76), Lampard, Makelele, Tiago, Gudjohnsen (Drogba
61), Robben (Kezman 83)
Subs Not Used Cudicini, Geremi
Booked Lampard, Johnson
Goals Cole 80
Referee M. Riley