Reds Undone By Drogba Rocket  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0

Didier Drogba in action against LiverpoolDidier Drogba's thunderbolt shortly before half time was enough to give 10-man Chelsea a 1-0 win over Liverpool, denting The Reds' title hopes in the process.

The Blues were not at their best and for long periods were under the cosh following Michael Ballack's dismissal in the second half, but they ground out the points.

The contest was ultimately settled on 42 minutes when Drogba controlled Frank Lampard's cross from the right before unleashing an unstoppable volley.

Chelsea began the better of the two with Jose Mourinho's charges dominating the possession in the opening exchanges at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues could have been ahead on 10 minutes, but Daniel Agger was on hand to clear the danger under pressure from John Terry, although referee Mike Riley had already blown for holding by Drogba.

Despite little of the ball, Liverpool should have opened the scoring when Xabi Alonso found Dirk Kuyt with a superb through ball, but the Dutch striker opted for power and his thumping effort cannoned off the crossbar.

The teams then traded attempts with Lampard's free kick finding Jose Reina, while at the other end Craig Bellamy's shot from the left angle was easily gathered by Petr Cech.

Chelsea continued to create the chances, but summer signing Andrei Shevchenko was never likely to beat Reina from just inside the area with his left-footed volley.

Shortly after Steve Finnan wasted a good chance in the middle following a raking pass from Steven Gerrard, the home side were ahead before the interval with a goal out of the blue.

Lampard's cross from the right looked harmless enough, however, Drogba controlled in the middle and in a flash he lashed home past Reina with a sensational volley.

Liverpool had the final chance of the half, but after Gerrard got the better of Khalid Boulahrouz he fired his shot over Cech's bar from the angle.

Controversy struck shortly after the interval when Ballack was shown a straight red card for an apparent stamp on Reds midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

Ballack was incensed at failing to get a decision from Riley and seconds later appeared to catch Sissoko's inner thigh after he played the ball.

Mourinho reorganised his side by pulling Shevchenko into a deeper position with Drogba playing in a familiar lone striker role.

The Ukrainian did not last long in the midfield with Dutch winger Arjen Robben making his comeback from a calf injury shortly after the hour mark.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez made a tactical change after bringing on Boudewijn Zenden for Sissoko and the switch allowed Gerrard to move into a central role.

The move nearly paid instant dividends with Alonso's shot finding Gerrard in the middle and he flicked the ball over Boulahrouz only to see his close-range effort superbly blocked by Cech.

Liverpool continued to pile on the pressure and Cech had to be on his toes to get behind Agger's long-range drive, while Kuyt was inches from levelling with a back post header from Finnan's cross.

The visitors thought they had a penalty when Lampard bundled over Gerrard in the box, however, Riley waved away their appeals, much to the disappointment of Benitez.

For the second time of the afternoon Kuyt should have scored, but after a knock-down by substitute Peter Crouch in the middle, the Dutch striker spooned over from 12 yards out.

Crouch should have snatched a point in injury time, however, he failed to direct his header past Cech in the middle following a superb delivery from Finnan's cross.

Despite creating all the chances in the second half, Benitez's side failed to bag that all-important leveller, leaving them with just a win and a draw from their opening four Premiership outings.

Chelsea Team Statistics Liverpool
1 Goals 0
1 1st Half Goals 0
3 Shots on Target 6
3 Shots off Target 6
1 Blocked Shots 2
1 Corners 3
15 Fouls 20
2 Offsides 4
3 Yellow Cards 2
1 Red Cards 0
81.5 Passing Success 77.6
29 Tackles 35
75.9 Tackles Success 85.7
55 Possession 45
42.4 Territorial Advantage 57.6


Chelsea  Cech, Boulahrouz (Ferreira 71), A. Cole, Carvalho, Terry, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Makelele, Drogba (Kalou 90), Shevchenko (Robben 65)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Mikel
Booked  Boulahrouz, Drogba
Sent Off: Ballack
Goals  Drogba 42

Liverpool Reina, Agger, Carragher, Finnan, Alonso, Gerrard, Pennant, Sissoko (Zenden 67), Warnock (Aurelio 54), Bellamy (Crouch 78), Kuyt
Subs Not Used Dudek, Hyypia
Booked  Warnock, Sissoko

Attendance  41,882

Referee  M. Riley

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