Ten-man Chelsea produced a display of remarkable resistance to hold on for a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, in an epic, enthralling contest between two Premier League title hopefuls at Anfield, following Reece James’ hotly-debated sending off in first-half injury time.
The Champions League holders had won at this venue in March and were impressing again on Liverpool’s patch, leading through Kai Havertz’s brilliant header as an enthralling contest approached half-time. But drama and controversy moments before the break transformed the contest.
Joel Matip hit the bar as Chelsea struggled to clear a corner and when Sadio Mane rifled in a follow-up shot the ball cannoned into James’ arm off his knee on the goal-line, before the defender appeared to try to flick the ball away with his hand.
Referee Anthony Taylor consulted the pitchside monitor on VAR’s advice and infuriated the Chelsea players by not only awarding a spot-kick – which Mohamed Salah hammered home – but also showing James a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
While former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink argued James couldn’t go to make the block with his knee without moving his arm in the direction of the ball as well,
The punishment of a penalty – expertly converted by Salah – and red card for James, infuriated the visitors, with Antonio Rudiger booked before the spot-kick and Edouard Mendy shown a yellow card after it, following a scuffle with Henderson.