Willian and Ross Barkley fired Blues to FA Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night as Chelsea defeat Liverpool 2-0 in a thrilling encounter at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard’s side inflicted back-to-back defeats on Jurgen Klopp’s side after suffering their first Premier League defeat of the season at Watford on Saturday.
Chelsea opened the scoring when Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian committed an error and spilled a Willian shot into the corner of his net to hand Blues a 1-0 lead at half-time, while Ross Barkley’s shot in the second half sealed a deserved victory for the Stamford Bridge club.
Young midfielder Billy Gilmour starred in midfield on his first-team debut for Chelsea, while Kepa Arrizabalaga made a stunning triple save on his return to Lampard’s starting lineup after being dropped for the previous six games.
Liverpool started the brighter but the opener went the way of Chelsea on 13 minutes. Some loose passing as Liverpool tried to play out from the back saw Fabinho lose the ball to Willian. He then shot from the edge of the area and Adrian somehow let the ball through his grasp and squirm into the bottom corner.
At the other end his opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was recalled to the Chelsea side after losing his place to Willy Caballero, was clearly intent on impressing and earning his No 1 spot back. He made several fine saves to keep Liverpool out in the first half, including an impressive triple stop on 20 minutes as he denied Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and then Curtis Jones all in quick succession.
Klopp sent Liverpool out early again for the start of the second half, but once again they looked flat. After 64 minutes Chelsea managed to double their lead through Barkley, who was inadvertently played in by a Virgil van Dijk header before charging 50 yards and finishing low from the edge of the area.
Pedro then had a chance to kill the tie a few minutes later as he also got in behind before facing Adrian one on one, but he shot straight at the goalkeeper. There would be no recovery from Liverpool, though, even as Klopp threw on Roberto Firmino, James Milner and later Mohamed Salah, and now no Treble either.
Speaking after the match, Lampard praised his team for an impressive performance and particularly commended young Billy Gilmour for his impressive display against Liverpool.
“It was an impressive performance. It is hard to be comprehensive against Liverpool because of the team that they are, but I couldn’t have asked for any more with the spirit, the work ethic, and the quality.
“You’ve got to defend well to keep a clean sheet against them because of the team that they are, but we deserved to win the game,” he said.
Lampard added: “What an incredible performance for a young player against the best team,” he told the BBC. “Things are happening quickly around you and he’s a calm head.
“He’s a throwback to the days of midfielders that I grew up with. People might look at him and see that he’s quite slight in his way but he’s massive in his personality.”
Also speaking on his team’s performance and eventual loss, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his team made mistakes and were punished for it. He, however, noted that the game was way better than that of Watford on Saturday.
Klopp said: “Losing two-nil is not good, but in this case, it’s relatively easy to explain. We made massive mistakes around the goals.
“The performance tonight was completely different from the performance against Watford. Against Watford, it was really bad. Tonight, it was not bad. I liked the reaction. I liked the way we played. There was some good stuff.
Gilmour said after the match he got his confidence to play well against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and last night’s game further boosted his confidence.
“It was a good match, I’ve been training very hard to get this chance,” Gilmour told BBC.
“Today I stepped up and took my opportunity. Great game, great victory.”
“I need to keep pushing on, keep doing what I’m doing.”