It was hard to imagine pre-game that the obvious talking point of Rafa Benitez’ return to Anfield would not be dominating the headlines of Monday’s media outlets. However, it’s easy to visualise the hundreds of Benitez related headlines being deleted within seconds of replays showing Luis Suarez biting Branislav Ivanovic like a rabid dog. It’s also easy to forget that Chelsea once again dropped points, this time to a 97th minute Suarez equaliser.
The Kop’s Benitez chants were unsurprisingly in full flow from kick off but it wasn’t until Oscar’s goal midway through the first half that Chelsea found any basis for rhythm. Very poor marking from Liverpool meant Oscar met Juan Mata’s corner unchallenged and his glancing header could only be palmed into the net by Pepe Reina. Shortly after Reina nearly spilt David Luiz’ long range free kick into his own net. Dipping just before him the ball squirmed out of the Spaniard’s arms but he managed to reclaim it just before it crossed the line.
Brendan Rodgers’ introduction of Daniel Sturridge at half time proved to be a game changer. Within minutes of him replacing the ineffective Coutinho, Sturridge’s first shot had beaten Cech and crashed into the post. His second contribution was the Liverpool equaliser. Stuart Downings backwards flick fell to Suarez who’s first time cross was beautifully weighted into the path of Sturridge who found the net from 6 yards.
It didn’t take long for the ‘hero to zero’ tag to be mentioned when shortly after when Suarez handled in the box from a Chelsea corner. Eden Hazard stepped up and sent Reina the wrong way and all looked to be restored with Chelsea looking in control.
Anyone who had mentioned the ‘hero to zero’ cliché would have been very quickly regretting it. On 66 minutes Suarez very quickly lowered himself considerably below zero as he decided to attempt to take a chunk of Ivanovic’s arm. The attack seemed fairly unprovoked and it was a huge surprise not to see Ivanovic react in a red-card worthy manor.
Although it was understandable for that incident not to be seen/punished in game, it was unbelievable to see Ryan Bertrand not even awarded a free kick after Sturridge’s over the ball challenge. It should have been the card colour that was being debated post game, not why there was no foul given.
And then it happened. The bet that every in play punter would have backed after seeing Suarez’ bite, him scoring. Where 6 minutes of added time came from nobody seems quite sure but the fact that Suarez met Sturridge’s cross in the 97th minute left many Chelsea fans searching for a greater word than injustice.