Antonio Conte suffered his first defeat as Chelsea manager in a Friday night home tie against Liverpool.
The Blues were very much on the back foot in the opening stages, going into the break 2-0 down thanks to goals from Lovren and Henderson, and failed to recover fully despite Costa pulling one back.
It means the Reds are now jointly on 10 points with the hosts, who will be disappointed not to have secured early bragging rights against one of their arch-nemeses.
It was Liverpool’s first half as Chelsea just could not get into a fluid rhythm. Courtois had to be alert, firstly to deny Sturridge, but there was no denying Lovren, who was afforded acres of space at the back post from a Coutinho cross. It was shocking defending and Chelsea were 1-0 down early.
It nearly became worse when Sturridge struck just past the post, with Chelsea resorting to long-range efforts.
Henderson had a long-range effort himself but had the accuracy to give Liverpool a 2-0 half-time lead. The ball sat up nicely for the Englishmen, who leathered it from 35 yards with Courtois off his goal-line.
Conte no doubt would have had stern words at half-time, and despite the lack of changes, it was Costa who brought Chelsea back into the game on the hour mark from nothing.
Matic roamed forward, as he has been allowed to under Conte with Kante sitting deep, and he looked to run out of room on the bye-line but somehow managed to squirm a ball to Costa who toe-poked home a goal out of nothing.
The Spaniard was on his game and nearly equalised with a left-foot drive and Chelsea would go on to have a strong 20-minute spell.
But Liverpool were no mugs themselves up front and Courtois had to be continuously alert against the likes of Origi and Coutinho.
Conte’s substitutions have had a material impact on the game so far this season, but his triple substitution of Fabregas, Pedro and Moses proved to be too little too late, with the former seeing his free-kick hit the wall in Chelsea’s last meaningful opportunity to salvage a point.
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Man of the Match
DIEGO COSTA: The striker has started the season in great form, but this was his first real test against a big club. Whilst his side ultimately lost, Costa did not fare too badly, getting his side back into the mix and generally not being wound up by the Liverpool defence. The composure and level-headedness will surely serve him well if he can keep his discipline against tough opponents — a new Diego? 7/10
Conte was sad but philosophical: “Defeats are never good. When you want to think like a great team you must pay attention in every moment. We conceded the goals in a strange way. I must work more to improve my players. We know this, we must work and keep our concentration. We played with good intensity and anger in the second half.”
Klopp was delighted: “It was a satisfying win of course. From the first second we had unbelievably good movement. We were quick in mind. We did really well. We deserved the lead at half-time.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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