Olivier Giroud expertly headed in Victor Moses’ cross in the first half after Liverpool had dominated possession and failed to capitalise. Eden Hazard came close after the break before Marcos Alonso’s powerful volley flew dangerously past the post.
Chelsea’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League were boosted with a victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea remains in fifth but moves within three points of third-placed Liverpool.
With two games remaining to Liverpool’s one, Chelsea can put pressure on the Champions League finalists with a victory against Huddersfield on Wednesday, although given their superior goal difference the Reds would almost certainly ensure a top-four finish with a victory at home to Brighton on the final day.
The visitors had more than 66% possession in the first half and created plenty of chances – the best falling to Sadio Mane, who was denied twice by Thibaut Courtois – but it was Chelsea who came closest.
Tiemoue Bakayoko’s header bounced inches wide just moments before Giroud leaped high to nod home Moses’ cross. And Cesc Fabregas’ smart run in behind the defence created an opening which he could not convert from a tight angle.
Chelsea had the best chances of the second half too. Hazard almost danced his way through before Antonio Rudiger’s header was ruled out for offside.
Nervous conclusion to Liverpool’s top-four bid
Liverpool looked set to secure a place in the top four last month when they comfortably beat Bournemouth 3-0 just days after knocking Manchester City out of the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate win.
They were 12 points ahead of Chelsea and seemingly out of sight.
But back-to-back draws with West Brom and Stoke, as well as well-fought victories for Chelsea against Southampton, Burnley, and Swansea, have made things difficult for Liverpool.
They are still in control and a win against Brighton should be enough given their superior goal difference over Chelsea.
It would take a remarkable effort for Chelsea to overturn the 15-goal deficit but it could still be a nervous afternoon at Anfield on the final day of the season should Chelsea win their remaining games against Huddersfield and Newcastle.
Liverpool has had the distraction of their remarkable run to the Champions League final but should they fail to secure a place in next year’s competition, it would be a disaster.
Source: BBC News