Chelsea beats Liverpool 2-1 in Premier League

Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o scored first-half goals as Chelsea

came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over title rival Liverpool in

the Premier League on Sunday.

After Martin Skrtel put the Reds in front from close range at

Stamford Bridge after only four minutes, Hazard hit back in the

17th with a superb strike. Eto’o gave Jose Mourinho’s team a

decisive lead from Oscar’s back pass in the 34th.

Third-place Chelsea trails leader Arsenal by two points and

Manchester City by one point. Liverpool is six points adrift after

slipping to a second consecutive loss.

Hazard was splendid throughout in his playmaker role, while

Chelsea’s defenders did a good job of containing Luis Suarez, who

was reunited with Branislav Ivanovic for the first time since he

bit the Serbian defender on the arm last season and was banned for

10 games.

”The kid is giving everything,” Mourinho said about Hazard.

”He was a very talented player, but he was a kid enjoying football

in a funny way. Now he understands his responsibilities. I’m so

happy with the kid.”

Mourinho also accused Suarez of showing his ”wild nature” and

simulating after the striker protested he should have been given a

penalty when Eto’o obstructed him in the box in the second

half.

”Suarez lost a duel with (Cesar) Azpilicueta, Azpilicueta has

the ball and is leaving the box with the ball and now he’s doing an

acrobatic swimming pool jump to try to get the penalty,” Mourinho

said. ”When the situation is like this and you are losing comes

the nature of the player, the wild nature of the player or the

cultural nature of the player.”

With captain John Terry becoming the fourth Chelsea player to

make 600 appearances for the club, the game started at a high

tempo, with both sides involved in a gritty contest for

possession.

After Eto’o was lucky to escape a booking for his challenge on

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool made the most of the subsequent free

kick, with Skrtel scoring a poacher’s goal from close range.

Chelsea failed to clear Philippe Coutinho’s free kick, Suarez

headed the ball beyond Ivanovic and Skrtel tapped it home.

Chelsea reacted immediately, only for Hazard to see his effort

saved before Gary Cahill headed wide from Frank Lampard’s free kick

in the eighth minute.

Chelsea’s penalty appeals were waved away by referee Howard Webb

after Hazard appeared to be clipped by Lucas in the box, and

Lampard forced keeper Simon Mignolet to tip the ball over with a

trademark powerful shot from outside the box.

The home side was rewarded for its pressure soon afterward when

Hazard gave Mignolet no chance with a superb curling shot for his

eighth league goal of the season.

Mourinho was forced to make an early defensive change as the

injured Ivanovic was replaced by Ashley Cole after 30 minutes. But

Liverpool struggled to contain the Blues’ relentless attacks and

Eto’o converted his team’s dominance into a goal when he scored

from close range from Oscar’s pass, despite Mignolet getting a hand

to the ball.

The Reds continued to threaten on the break and had a chance to

level before the interval, with Joe Allen’s shot from the right

side of the box drawing a good diving save from Petr Cech.

There were further scoring chances in the second half, with

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho unlucky to see his looping header

hit the crossbar from a free kick as Cech looked well beaten. At

the other end, Eto’o missed a clear-cut chance when he fired

straight at Mignolet from a good position in the 54th.

Suarez’s volley four minutes later was easily stopped by Cech as

Liverpool created more space in the hosts’ half.

But Chelsea weathered Liverpool’s attacks and could even have

won by a bigger margin. Former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres

eased past Mamadou Sakho and Skrtel but failed to beat Mignolet

with his shot in the closing stages.

”Christmas Day eating our turkey we were top of the league. A

few days and games later we’re fifth. I think that’s the way it

will go between now and the end of the season,” Liverpool manager

Brendan Rodgers said. ”I think it’s brilliant and it makes it

really exciting.”