Sterling scores but Chelsea hang on
LIVERPOOL, England (AP):
Raheem Sterling found a way past formidable Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with an exquisite solo goal to earn Liverpool a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their English League Cup semi-final yesterday.
It needed something special to beat Courtois at Anfield, and Sterling delivered in the 59th minute, picking up the ball 40 metres from goal, turning and speeding away from Chelsea's defence, before applying a low finish.
That cancelled out an 18th-minute penalty won and converted by Eden Hazard in the only shot on goal Chelsea produced in a defensive performance that saw the Premier League leaders outplayed at times, especially in the second half.
"They are a top side, but I'm not sure they've had a game like that this season," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. "I thought the performance was a benchmark. There is absolutely no doubt we can go to the second leg and get the performance we need."
Chelsea will be relieved to come away on level terms and are the marginal favourites heading into the return match at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday. After a slow start to the season, though, Liverpool have rediscovered their identity and intensity that almost took the team to the Premier League title last season. The Reds are unbeaten in nine games.
Chelsea manager José Mourinho grumbled about his side's poor distribution, but said that it was due to the pressure being applied by Liverpool, who are seeking to extend their record of eight titles in the League Cup.