Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool: player ratings, heroes and villains as Man City the only winners in title race

The pair were unable to close the gap on the current Premier League leaders.

<p>Mohamed Salah of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Chelsea  and  Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on January 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)</p>

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on January 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool started 2022 with an entertaining 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

But the result did neither side any good in a bid to catch runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

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The first half proved a frenetic affair, with all four goals scored.

Liverpool - without Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip after they tested positive for Covid-19 - took the lead in the ninth minute when Sadio Mane took advantage of a Trevor Chalobah error to score his first goal in 10 games.

The Reds, who also did not have Jurgen Klopp on the touchline having contracted coronavirus, doubled their advantage on 26 minutes through a moment of magic from Mo Salah. He jinked past Marcus Alonso before squeezing a finish into the near corner.

However, Chelsea responded superbly and ensured they went into the interval level.

Matteo Kovacic scored a goal of the season contender when his dipping 30-yard volley left visiting keeper Caoimhin Kelleher with no chance.

And the home side were level in stoppage-time through Christian Pulasic’s composed finish.

Both teams had chances in the second period but a point apiece was a fair result.

It means Man City’s grip on top spot has now tightened. Liverpool, in third, trail by 11 points with a game in hand and second-placed Chelsea are behind Pep Guardiola’s side by 10 points.

The heroes

- Matteo Kovacic: what a strike from the Chelsea midfielder. After the Stamford Bridge atmosphere had gone flat and frustrations started to show, they needed a piece of brilliance to get them back into the game. The Croatia international provided exactly that. It’s as good a volley you’ll ever see.

- Sadio Mane: it’s been a difficult period for the Liverpool forward and his performance against Leicester in the last game was the low point. But Mane’s goal would have been a weight off his shoulder and he was the Reds’ most lively attacker throughout. It’s a shame he’s now heading off to the African Cup of Nations have seemingly bounced back.

- Coimhin Kelleher: the Irishman is still a relatively rookie keeper given his lack of senior appearances. But in Alisson’s absence, Kelleher stepped up superbly. He smartly kept out Pulisic when the scores were level and pulled off several more smart saves. No chance with both goals.

Sadio Mane celebrates his opening goal in Liveprool’s draw with Chelsea. Picture: DRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

The villains

- Trevor Chalobah: only he will know why he stooped to clear with his head that handed Mane an opportunity on a plate. A costly error.

- Fabinho: particularly struggled in the first half, did the Brazilian. He was too passive and allowed the Chelsea midfield to attack in numbers. A rare off day.

- James Milner: the veteran midfielder made a silly foul that led to Chelsea’s free-kick before Kovacic’s goal. He should know far better given his experience.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Mendy 7, Chalobah 5 (Jorginho 70; 6), Silva 6, Rudiger 7, Azpilicueta 6, Kante 7, Kovacic 8, Alonso 6, Mount 6, Havertz 6 (Hudson-Odoi 79), Pulisic 7.

Liverpool: Kelleher 7, Alexander-Arnold 6, Van Dijk 6, Konate 6, Tsimikas 6, Fabinho 5, Henderson 6, Milner 5 (Keita 69; 5), Mane 8 (Jones 90), Jota 5 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69; 5), Salah 7.

What’s Liverpool’s next fixture?

The Reds face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.

Klopp’s side travel to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday 6 January (19.45).