Man City the big winners as no separating Chelsea and Liverpool

Man City the big winners as no separating Chelsea and Liverpool

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 2

Chelsea came back from 2-0 down to share the points with LIverpool – a result that only strengthens Manchester City’s grip on the Premier League summit.

A breathless opening saw Sadio Mane and Mo Salah net for the visitors, who were without manager Jurgen Klopp because of Covid.

That heaped the pressure on Thomas Tuchel for jettisoning Romelu Lukaku completely for stating he would rather still be at Inter Milan.

But goals in quick succession just before the break from Mateo Kovacic and Christian Pulisic made sure Chelsea were not beaten.

“It was a difficult decision but the thing got too big, too noisy too close to the match,” Tuchel explained and Lukaku was by no means the only notable absentee as Covid also robbed Liverpool of Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip – and Salah and Mane are now off to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Alisson’s absence presented Cork man Caoimhín Kelleher with the biggest game of his career so far and the former Ringmahon Ranger did not disappoint.

The game began with Mane booked for elbowing Cesar Azpilicueta within 10 seconds – should it have been a red? – and Edouard Mendy saving from team-mate Antonio Rudiger after Trevoh Chalobah’s error et Salah in.

Kelleher’s first big moment came straight after when a blocked clearance put Pulisic in. The American was foiled as he tried to round the keeper.

Mane fired Liverpool ahead in the ninth minute when Chalobah made a mess of trying to head Diogo Jota’s pass back to Mendy. Mane rounded the keeper with ease.

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota has a shot on goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Salah’s speed of thought and deed saw Liverpool double the lead in the 26th minute, with Alexander-Arnold spotting his run into the box on the right. The Egyptian easily evaded Marcos Alonso before slotting past Mendy.

Mason Mount survived a VAR check on a studding of Kostas Tsimikas before Kovacic fired Chelsea back into the game in the 42nd minute.

Kelleher punched Alonso’s fierce free-kick out to the midfielder who volleyed it back from beyond the D and in off a post. The goal stood following a VAR check on whether Rudiger was offside and interfering.

Liverpool’s James Milner, right, challenges Chelsea’s Mason Mount. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Pulisic made it 2-2 in the final minute of the half by lifting the ball over Kelleher after N’Golo Kante’s poke had pu

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