Chelsea v Liverpool: What were the key factors behind eightgoal thriller?
1. No John Terry:Chelsea's talismanic captain was missing, victim of a caution in the first leg for a foul on Pepe Reina, the Liverpool captain. Terry pleaded his innocence, but was forced to watch, suited from the side-lines, as Liverpool applied the pressure in a first half designed to test the nerves of every Chelsea fan. With Jose Bosingwa also missing, Chelsea's defence included a central defender at right-back - Branislav Ivanovic - and the recovering Ricardo Carvalho in the centre. 2. Guus Hiddink's half-time blast:Managers over the years have used all sorts to get their message over. Sir Alex Ferguson has hurled tea-cups and, famously, a boot that cut David Beckham. Rumours that Hiddink resorted to Edam and Clog-tossing in an attempt to motivate his troops were denied, so we have to accept that it was just a good old-fashioned Dutch blast that rejuvenated his players into an inspirational come-back that brought a remarkable eight-goal thriller. Related ArticlesTimeline of Chelsea 4 Liverpool 4Champions League actionChelsea v Liverpool: Man markingChelsea 4 Liverpool 4: Agg 7-5'We can't lapse against Barca'Paper View: Chelsea snuff out Reds revival3. Rafa's tactics:Not for the first time a team selected by Rafael Benitez got the tongues wagging beforehand. To most people's surprise he chose to leave out Albert Riera and Ryan Babel, bringing them on late in the game. One could argue the tactics worked early on with Liverpool marching into a two-goal lead, but with the experienced Riera, in particular, on from the start, could Liverpool have taken even greater advantage of Chelsea's woeful start? 4. Gerrard's absence:Chelsea could argue that losing Terry was counter-balanced by the absence of Steven Gerrard. Certainly, the pair are as important as each other to their sides, particularly Gerrard, who has been in outstanding form this season and is one of the favourites to win the PFA Player of the Year and Football Writers' Footballer of the Year as a result of some inspirational performances. The midfield just isn't the same when Stevie G isn't there. 5. Cech's timidity:The Chelsea goalkeeper was nerves personified last night, making error after error to hand Liverpool an improbable way back into the game. In the old days, Carlo Cudicini would have been given a game to let Petr Cech get his mind right, but now he's at Spurs, Guus Hiddink is unlikely to risk second chose Henrique Hilario against Arsenal in the weekend's FA Cup semi-final. 6. Red Lining:Liverpool may be out of the Champions League but it could come with a blessing. As they have no games this weekend, because of the FA Cup semi-finals involving their three Premier League rivals, they can rest and take stock of what was still a great performance. No other distractions mean they can give everything in pursuit of the title, knowing United have other things on their minds. It may just make a difference....
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