Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:36 IST

Two-time reigning Premier League champions Chelsea returned to form with a hard-fought 1-0 victory on Sunday over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0

London:

Two-time reigning Premier League champions Chelsea returned to form with a hard-fought 1-0 victory on Sunday over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea gained a measure of revenge for its defeat to Liverpool in the Community Shield match before the start of the season last month with a world-class goal from Didier Drogba. The Blues preserved the victory with a dogged defensive effort after midfielder Michael Ballack was given a red card in the 51st minute for stomping on Liverpool's Momo Sissoko. Liverpool missed a quality chance late in the first half when Steven Gerrard blazed a shot over the crossbar at a tight angle. In the second half, Gerrard had an eight-yard blast stopped by Chelsea 'keeper Petr Cech and also was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty after Chelsea's Frank Lampard appeared to have pushed Gerrard while inside the 18. "It looked like a penalty," admitted Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez. "I was right in line with it and I had almost the same vision as the linesman. It looked clear that Lampard pushed Gerrard and it was a definite penalty." Ballack's clumsy challenge left no doubt about the straight red card issued, leaving Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho to shepherd his defense as Liverpool sent more men forward. But the Reds failed to sternly test Cech, with striker Peter Crouch's late header going right at the Czech goalkeeper in the closing minutes. "We should have done better with some of the chances we created," Benitez admitted. "Against 10 men, we played well and made some good opportunities that we failed to take advantage of. "But we are getting closer to where we want to be in terms of our performances, particularly in defence where we coped very well with a strong Chelsea attack. There are improvements that still need to be made, but we are getting closer." But the loss leaves Liverpool a distant eight points behind Chelsea and Manchester United in the standings and ahead of only five teams in the Premiership. The win moved Chelsea level with Manchester United, which suffered a stunning home loss at Old Trafford to struggling Arsenal, and two behind Premier League leader Portsmouth. But with the Blues improving with each match, it is clear they are setting their sights on a third consecutive Premier League title as well as a deep run in the Champions League. (AP)

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