Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino’s Premier League homecoming ended in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
A debut goal for Axel Disasi cancelled out a Luis Diaz strike in the London sunshine, although the hosts may have felt aggrieved not to have taken all three points at the end of a pulsating battle.
Both teams were happy to commit bodies forward early doors, although Liverpool’s fearsome attacking unit were the ones causing most of the trouble, and Mohamed Salah had his first sighter of goal in the 12th minute, curling an 18-yard effort onto the crossbar.
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The Egyptian was giving debutant Levi Colwill a torrid time down the right, though, and his playmaking excellence saw Liverpool draw first blood in the 18th minute, picking out Diaz with a perfectly-weighted pass for the Colombian to poke home on the stretch.
Salah briefly thought he had gone from creator to finisher in the 29th minute, delicately lifting the ball over Robert Sanchez after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s through ball, but the former Blue had just gone a fraction too early.
While a former Chelsea man was giving his old side grief, ex-Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling acted as the catalyst for the hosts’ equaliser, advancing along the byline and seeing his cutback volleyed over the top of the Liverpool goal by Alexander-Arnold.
The Reds initially dealt with the resulting corner, but Ben Chilwell headed the ball back into the danger area, and Disasi advanced beyond a stagnant Liverpool backline to sweep home the leveller in the 37th minute.
Only two minutes later, Chilwell took up a central striker’s position to receive Enzo Fernandez’s threaded pass, and the left-back skipped past Alisson Becker before slotting home, but the offside flag spared Liverpool’s blushes.
New number nine Nicolas Jackson also got into a couple of good shooting positions during an enthralling first half, but the 22-year-old’s finishing let him down on both occasions, as Liverpool went into the break level despite having just 34% of the ball.
The end-to-end action did not cease after the break, as Virgil van Dijk sent an audacious curling strike just over the bar in the 49th minute, before Chelsea and Jackson escaped a strong penalty shout for handball as a Diaz header hit the striker’s fist close to his chest.
The effervescent Chilwell also stung the palms of Alisson with a low drive in the 55th minute as Chelsea continued to come forward in droves, and Klopp made attacking changes en masse in an attempt to regain some momentum.
Salah – who had previously scored on the opening day of the season five years in a row – was one of the players sacrificed, and he cut an incredibly frustrated figure as he took his place on the bench, throwing his wrist tape onto the floor to the amusement of the home crowd.
Liverpool arguably had the best chance to nick all three points in the five minutes of injury time, but Darwin Nunez’s deflected effort flew just wide of the post, before Mykhaylo Mudryk wasted a brilliant counter-attacking opportunity right at the death.