Eden Hazard, Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek 7/10 but Chelsea fall short at Liverpool
Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals of the season as Liverpool moved back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Anfield, damaging Maurizio Sarri's hopes of delivering a top-four finish in the process.
Chelsea picked a sensible game plan to compete at Anfield and broadly executed it well -- if only in the defensive sense -- until Sadio Mane scored early in the second half. They also carved Liverpool open several times once they fell 2-0 behind and Eden Hazard showed signs that he will continue his form of recent weeks into the season's final stretch.
This was an afternoon to remind Chelsea just how far away they are from Premier League title contention. Even prior to Mane's breakthrough, the Blues were doing little more than surviving at Anfield. Their flurry immediately after Salah's second was more encouraging, but without a ruthless edge. The biggest blow of all will be Antonio Rudiger's knee injury if it is as serious as it looked.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Sarri picked the right team and the right tactics for this game. Liverpool's quality and Chelsea's individual mistakes ultimately put the hosts ahead but he also changed things smartly once behind, bringing on Gonzalo Higuain to give his side a focal point and unleash the best of Hazard. Against the potential Premier League champions, however, it wasn't enough.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 -- Protected quite well by his defenders in the first half he was more extended in the second, making good saves from Mane and Roberto Firmino. Perhaps dived a little too early for Mane's header, but could do nothing about Salah's outrageous thunderbolt that followed.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 -- His tendency to drift closer to his centre-backs has been a recurring theme this season, perhaps a legacy of his time spent in a back three under Antonio Conte. Doing so on Sunday left Mane completely unmarked at the back post to head Liverpool in front. Also had trouble defending the Senegal international in open play.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Took to the challenge of nullifying Firmino reasonably well early on, also passing the ball calmly under pressure, but had his afternoon cut short after only 40 minutes by a knee injury that looks serious.
DF David Luiz, 5 -- Fortunate not to give away an early penalty when he caught Salah and while he played the best pass of the first half to release Willian in transition, much of his distribution out of defence was poor. Not one of his better big-game performances.
DF Emerson Palmieri, 5 -- Could not offer much going forward with Liverpool dominant in possession, and his positional weaknesses undermined Chelsea's defensive efforts. Lost track of Salah for an early volley that Kepa saved and allowed the Egypt international to run off him again in the build-up to Mane's goal.
MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- His tireless running and destructive instincts were key to Chelsea surviving Liverpool's intensity in the first half, though he contributed to Chelsea's lack of attacking threat with poor passing in transition. Always gives the team more than he takes away even in a more advanced midfield role, but this wasn't his best day.
MF Jorginho, 6 -- At times he looked in danger of being swamped by Liverpool's relentless midfield press, but he generally did enough to survive. Not fast enough to react to the loose ball that found Jordan Henderson in the lead-up to Mane's goal, enabling the England international to surge past him and cross.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 7 -- Produced some eye-catching moments in the first half, bullying Virgil van Dijk and flicking the ball through an opponent's legs, but his decision-making and execution were not the best against Liverpool's customary press, leading to turnovers in bad areas.
FW Callum Hudson-Odoi, 6 -- Worked hard defensively and pressed whenever it was called for but could not get any change out of the superb Andy Robertson. Hazard's unwillingness to attack the box as a false nine gave him nothing to aim at with crosses, and Liverpool stifled his attempted dribbles.
FW Eden Hazard, 7 -- Barely in the game as a false nine and did not help himself by passing up many of his better opportunities to dart into the box. Came alive as soon as he was shifted to the left, darting infield to miss two glaring chances in quick succession. If he had been clinical, Chelsea would have turned this game on its head against all the odds.
FW Willian, 7 -- Managed to create Chelsea's only real opportunity of the first half, surging onto Luiz's pass, cutting infield from the left and shooting just wide. Also found Hazard clean through with an excellent cross in the second half, only for the Belgian to scuff his shot straight at Alisson.
DF Andreas Christensen, 7 -- It's not easy to be plunged unexpectedly into a game of this intensity and the cool Dane handled it well. Wasn't culpable for either Liverpool goal.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 -- His presence up front improved Chelsea by reigniting Hazard, but his lack of speed was glaringly obvious once again.
MF Ross Barkley, 6 -- Came on for Loftus-Cheek with Chelsea chasing but couldn't find anything to turn the tide of the midfield battle.