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Brilliant Blues leave Reds reeling
Published : 08 Apr 2009 21:00:00
Two headers from Branislav Ivanovich helped give Chelsea a 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final first-leg at Anfield.The Serbian defender - only playing because of the injury to first-choice right-back Jose Bosingwa - scored his first goals in a Blue shirt as Guus Hiddink's team brought the Reds fine run of recent form to a crashing halt.Fernando Torres gave Rafael Benitez's side an early lead but two headers either side of half-time from Ivanovich and a Didier Drogba strike put Chelsea into the driving seat ahead of next week's return leg at Stamord Bridge.The Reds' reward for a fast start was the opening goal in the sixth minute. Dirk Kuyt pulled Alex's clearance out of the Merseyside sky before the Dutchman's superb backheel sent Alvaro Arbeloa clear down the right. The full-back was precise in his delivery, picking out Torres, who stroked the ball past Petr Cech from 12 yards out.Chelsea could and should have been level immediately. Solomon Kalou robbed Fabio Aurelio before feeding Drogba, who smashed the ball straight at Pepe Reina when one-on-one with the hosts' keeper.Florent Malouda's low, left-footed drive from the edge of the box drifted narrowly wide of Reina's post midway through the opening period, while Torres' curler at the other end came equally as close moments later.Drogba wasted his second golden opportunity in the 28th minute when he blasted over from close range but despite the prolific Ivorian's wastefulness, Chelsea hauled themselves level six minutes before the break.Florent Malouda's corner landed on the edge of the six-yard box and Ivanovich evaded the attentions of both Xabi Alonso and Martin Skrtel to plant a firm header past Reina.Liverpool came desperately close to retaking the lead within seconds of conceding when Kuyt left John Terry for dead on the right-side of the box but Cech rescued his side, sprinting off his line to block the Dutchman's effort.The frenetic pace of the game continued in the early exchanges of the second half, and Drogba finally managed to hit the target five minutes after the break. However, with Reina beaten by the Blues' striker's low effort, Jamie Carragher recovered to clear off the line, preserving parity for the hosts.Blues' captain John Terry collected a caution on the hour-mark, earning the defender a suspension but Chelsea recovered from the blow of losing their skipper for the second leg by taking the lead in the 62nd minute.Liverpool failed to learn from their earlier mistake and it was Ivanovich again who nodded home, this time from Lampard's corner.Things quickly got worse for the hosts when a sublime move culminated in Chelsea's third on 66 minutes.Michael Ballack's slide-rule pass sent Malouda clear on the left, and his low, driven cross was smashed home from close range by Drogba.Liverpool desperately sought a way back into the tie but Chelsea looked the more likely to increase their lead on the break.Hiddink's troops leave Anfield in control of the tie, with Liverpool now needing to score at least three times in west London next Tuesday.