Stalemate At The Bridge  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Belletti and Babel battle for the ballChelsea failed to capitalise on Manchester United's slip up as an uninspiring encounter against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge ended 0-0.

United's shock 2-1 defeat to Manchester City earlier on Sunday presented Avram Grant's side with an opportunity of move within one point of the Premier League champions.

But in a game of few chances, neither side managed to break down their opponent's disciplined defence.

Peter Crouch was guilty of missing the fixture's best chance when he smashed just wide after Ryan Babel had teed him up 12 yards out from goal.

The game's main talking point came on 25 minutes, with Mike Riley waving away penalty appeals after Javier Mascherano clumsily collided with Joe Cole in the box.


Liverpool began brightly and Steve Finnan's cross in the 14th minute did allowed the giant frame of Peter Crouch to head wide of the target from six yards.

Crouch, once more, should have put the visitors in front on 17 minutes when he combined cleverly with Babel before driving a low left-footed drive wide of Petr Cech's upright.

Two minutes later a run down the right flank by Steven Gerrard saw his cross find Crouch unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but the England striker could not direct his free header wide of Cech.

Chelsea thought they should have been awarded a penalty in the 26th minute when Cole was up-ended in the area but referee Riley waved away their appeals.

A cross from Liverpool's Gerrard in the 33rd minute was only half-cleared by Ricardo Carvalho and Chelsea were lucky to see a follow-up shot from Lucas deflected to safety.


The visitors were now enjoying a greater share of possession but were finding it difficult to engineer a clear-cut scoring opportunity.

Crouch was a continual threat in the air and he should have at least hit the target when he got on the end of a cross from Dirk Kuyt in the 37th minute.

The move was again sparked by a pass from Gerrard who was now beginning to stamp his authority on the midfield.

Chelsea were still a threat on the break, though, and Nicolas Anelka won a corner when a speculative 20-yard effort was deflected wide by John Arne Riise.

Chelsea were much better after the restart and Claude Makelele, not known for his goalscoring prowess, was predictably well off-target with a long-range effort in the 50th minute.

But The Blues were finding it difficult to break down a Liverpool defence that steadfastly refused to buckle and it required more than the energetic enthusiasm of the lone Anelka to unlock the Reds.

It was clear Anelka required some help if Chelsea were to break the deadlock and Grant, in keeping with his penchant for attacking football, opted to introduce Florent Malouda into the fray in place of Shaun Wright-Phillips two minutes later.


A mistake by Gerrard, who was caught in possession by Makelele, almost allowed Cole to punish the Reds but his cross was headed away for a corner by Finnan.

Moments later it was the visitors who caused problems for the home side but a quick break ended with Crouch's inability to finish off a cross from Babel.

Michael Ballack almost snatched a late winner 10 minutes from the end but his volley fell just inches wide of Jose Reina's left-hand upright.


Chelsea  Cech, Alex, Belletti, Carvalho, A. Cole, Ballack, J. Cole (Pizarro 86), Lampard (Mikel 71) , Makelele, Wright-Phillips (Malouda 64), Anelka
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Ben-Haim
Booked  Belletti, Alex, Carvalho

Liverpool  Reina, Carragher, Finnan, Skrtel, Gerrard, Lucas, Mascherano, Riise, Babel (Pennant 71), Crouch, Kuyt
Subs Not Used
Itandje, Dominguez, Benayoun, Kewell
Booked Babel, Riise

Attendance 41,777

M. Riley

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