Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool: Olivier Giroud keeps Blues' top-four hopes alive
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 07/05/18 6:26am
Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
The Frenchman's flicked header just after the half-hour mark was enough to see off a Liverpool side who appeared jaded following their midweek Champions League exploits.
The result moves Chelsea to within two points of Tottenham in fourth and just three behind third-placed Liverpool with two games remaining.
Liverpool missed the chance to secure Champions League football with a game to spare but are still in a strong position courtesy of their superior goal difference and, barring a 15-goal swing, a win against Brighton next weekend will see them qualify again for the competition they could win later this month in Kiev.
Home Team: Courtois (7), Azpilicueta (7), Cahill (6), Rudiger (8), Moses (7), Fabregas (7), Kante (7), Bakayoko (6), Alonso (6), Hazard (8), Giroud (7).
Subs: Willian (N/A), Zappacosta (N/A), Pedro (N/A)
Away Team: Karius (7), Clyne (6), Lovren (6), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Wijanaldum (6), Milner (6), Salah (5), Firmino (5), Mane (7).
Subs: Henderson (6), Solanke (6), Moreno (N/A)
Man of the match: Eden Hazard
Jurgen Klopp's side started brightly and Roberto Firmino saw his third-minute effort saved by Thibaut Courtois after Trent Alexander-Arnold's ball over the top.
Chelsea slowly grew into the game but Liverpool maintained a threat on the break with Sadio Mane particularly lively coming in from the left.
The Senegalese had two firm efforts from the edge of the box kept out by Courtois but two minutes after the second of them, Chelsea took the lead.
Victor Moses reached the byline before checking back onto his left foot, his cross took a slight deflection and Giroud beat Dejan Lovren to the ball at the near post and guided it past Loris Karius and into the far corner.
With Chelsea largely happy to sit back, protect their lead and look for opportunities on the counter, there was a lack of intensity to Liverpool's play and they struggled to create any clear openings.
Eden Hazard was becoming more influential for Chelsea and nearly added a second for the hosts after dancing past three Liverpool defenders, his near-post effort just rebuffed by Karius and with 10 minutes to go Marcus Alonso's spectacular left-foot volley whistled just past the post.
Klopp sent on Dominic Solanke to provide more of a physical presence up front and the Liverpool youngster had the visitors' two best efforts in the closing stages, firstly heading just over from 12 yards and then nodding wide in stoppage time.
Gary Cahill marshalled the Chelsea defence well and helped restrict Liverpool to shots from distance, in the main, as he tries to force his way back into Gareth Southgate's World Cup plans.
Trent Alexander-Arnold showed his versatility as he started in midfield for Liverpool but produced an up and down performance against a disciplined Chelsea midfield.
Nathaniel Clyne put in a steady first half display in his first start of the season but tired in the second and could have left it too late to make it to Russia.
Jordan Henderson replaced him for the final half an hour and moved the ball quickly as Liverpool pressed in vain for an equaliser.
Chelsea held on though and can turn up the pressure on both Liverpool and Tottenham further with victory over Huddersfield on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Man of the match - Eden Hazard
The Chelsea playmaker just edges out Antonio Rudiger, who kept Mo Salah quiet all game. He started slowly but as he found his feet in the match, so did Chelsea.
He was a constant threat to the Liverpool defence, particularly in his favoured left-hand channel and in the second half showed his strength to hold up the ball and help Chelsea get out as the away side tried to keep Conte's men penned in.
- Liverpool have only lost more Premier League games against Manchester United (28) than against Chelsea (20).
- This is the first time that Liverpool have failed to score in consecutive Premier League games under Jurgen Klopp.
- Antonio Conte is the fifth manager to have faced more than 20 Premier League teams and beaten them all, after Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and Gordon Strachan.
- After going unbeaten in each of Jurgen Klopp's first eight Premier League away games against the rest of the 'big six' (W4 D4), Liverpool have lost four of the last five (D1).
Chelsea have another home game, against Huddersfield, to look forward to on Wednesday before ending their league campaign at Newcastle next weekend. Meanwhile, Liverpool have a week to recover before taking on Brighton at Anfield and then a further two weeks to prepare for the Champions League final against Real Madrid.