Sunday, 20 November 2011

Christmas Guus As AVB Suffers Loss

Glen Johnson scored a stunning late winner for Liverpool as Chelsea suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats at Stamford Bridge for the first time since May 2002.

The former Blues defender controlled Charlie Adam's raking crossfield pass, nutmegged Ashley Cole and held off Florent Malouda before rolling the ball beyond Petr Cech despite John Terry's desperate attempts to clear.

That helped the Anfield outfit move level on points with the fourth-placed Blues in the congested race for UEFA Champions League football next term.

Maxi Rodriguez had put the visitors in front before the interval as he applied the finishing touch following a one-two between Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy after Charlie Adam had robbed the dozing John Obi Mikel.

The Nigeria international was hooked at the interval with his replacement, Daniel Sturridge, enjoying an immediate impact as he tapped home at the far post after some weak Liverpooldefending allowed Florent Malouda to put in a cross-shot.

There was £85million of striking talent on the bench in the shape of Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll and the introduction of the former six minutes from time only preceded Johnson's memorable strike, while Carroll looked heavy-legged as he came on in the closing moments.

This loss casts further doubt on manager Andre Villas-Boas' Stamford Bridge revolution, with the Blues now looking set to drop out of the top four, something billionaire owner Roman Abramovich is unlikely to tolerate for long.

Liverpool made the more impressive start, almost exploiting Chelsea's now notoriously high defensive line by twice Rodriguez getting beyond Terry and David Luiz.

It took 10 minutes for the home side to seriously threaten, Juan Mata drilling Malouda's cross dangerously back across goal.

At the other end, Branislav Ivanovic got a vital touch on Bellamy's cross before Johnson wasted a great opportunity to tee up a team-mate after a barnstorming run.

Liverpool, wearing black armbands in memory of the son of goalkeeper Brad Jones, who died of leukaemia on Friday, were looking more than comfortable, although Drogba narrowly missed with a free-kick some supporters thought had gone in.

Terry, whose error cost Chelsea dearly against Arsenal in their last home game, made another gaffe in the 28th minute when he was robbed by Kuyt but Luiz snuffed out the Liverpool attack.

Lucas was booked for clattering into the defender but the visitors' pressure was beginning to tell and they took the lead five minutes later after more horrendous defending.

Mikel dwelt on Cech's unwise pass and Adam robbed him, fed Bellamy, who played a one-two with Suarez before finding Rodriguez to clip over the goalkeeper.

An angry exchange between Terry and Bellamy, who have had more than one run in down the years, was calmed by referee Lee Probert.

With Chelsea's title bid threatening to unravel entirely, Villas-Boas hauled off Mikel for Sturridge at half-time.

It almost paid off four minutes in when Frank Lampard and Mata combined to find Drogba, who curled over from a good position.

The home side still looked uncertain whenever Liverpool broke but their pressure told in the 55th minute thanks to some rotten defending from the visitors.

Malouda was allowed to advance into the box by Adam and his cross-cum-shot was tapped home by Sturridge at the far post.

A wonder-save from Jose Reina stopped Ivanovic glancing home Drogba's free-kick two minutes later as Chelsea continued to dominate.

Ramires was booked for a late tackle on Martin Skrtel, with Kuyt following suit after hauling back Malouda.

Liverpool threw on Jordan Henderson for Bellamy in a bid to stem the tide, although Malouda went close with an audacious overhead kick.

The winger then sent a half-volley from Ivanovic's cross back across the face of goal and over the heads of waiting team-mates as Torres and Carroll both warmed up on the touchline.

They were made to wait even longer as the next change saw Stewart Downing replace Rodriguez before Ivanovic was cautioned for a nasty tackle on Suarez.

With just six minutes remaining, Torres finally arrived - along with fellow Liverpool old boy Raul Meireles - with Drogba and Ramires making way.

The visitors missed a great chance when Kuyt dragged wide after great work down the right from Henderson before Johnson produced one of the goals of the season to win it three minutes from time.

The full-back brought down Adam's pinpoint crossfield ball superbly, nutmegged Ashley Cole, and drove goalward before slotting into the corner.