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Premiership - Liverpool Home 18 Ocotber 2008 - 0-1


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Alonso Brings the Curtain Down on Fortress Stamford Bridge

By Alan McGuinness

Chelsea fans knew that this day would come eventually, but probably would have picked a different opponent to lose their 86 match home unbeaten league record. In the end, the reality is that Xabi Alonso’s 10th minute deflected shot gave Liverpool all three points and in the process sent them clear the top of the Premier League and inflicted upon Luiz Felipe Scolari his first defeat as Chelsea manager.

If you needed evidence that the Merseysider’s were title challengers, then this result was it.

Chelsea started well, but were rocked when Alonso’s effort deflected off Jose Bosingwa and into the net with Petr Cech wrong-footed and helpless.

The home side were dominating possession, but seemed lack ideas, and Gerrard could have made it 2-0 with just over 20 minutes gone, but Cech was equal to the task and tipped the midfielders effort over the bar.

Deco had an effort but it zipped wide of Pepe Reina’s goal and Chelsea went in at the break frustrated.

With Liverpool dominating possession and passing the ball around well, Scolari tried to reinvigorate his side by sending on Franco Di Santo and Juliano Beletti in place of wingers Salomon Kalou (who had an absolute shocker) and Florent Malouda, who moments earlier appeared to have won a penalty when he was taken down by Reina, but the offside flag had already been raised by the linesman.

Alonso came agonisingly close to adding a second for Liverpool when his well-struck free-kick left Cech rooted and relieved to see the ball hit the base of the post and cleared to safety by Ricardo Carvalho.

Ashley Cole was lucky not to be sent off for a foul on Babel, but Mascherano’s intervention only resulted in a yellow card for the Argentine.

Cole then had a golden opportunity to equalise after being played in by a cushioned header from Di Santo, but he sliced it wide to the sounds of groans around the Bridge. They realised that time, and the record, was slipping away.

The last significant action of the game came when Ryan Babel - sent on as a substitute for Robbie Keane - sent a shot inches wide of Petr Cech’s right hand post.

The goal may have been lucky, but in truth Chelsea looked a shadow of the side that had so effortlessly despatched of Middlesbrough last weekend. Deco failed to show up: he was outfought and constantly caught off guard. John Obi Mikel and John Terry but in good shifts, but apart from that, Chelsea left a lot to be desired this afternoon.

The Liverpool end of the Shed was bouncing with joy called time on a game that both brought an end to an era, and suggested that Liverpool could be entering an exciting new one.

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