For Vinnie read Veron,
for Wisey read Jimmy. The class of 92 has been
matched this afternoon as a glorious 2-1 opening Premiership
win brought Chelseas version of the holy grail
a win at Anfield.
Just to make it even sweeter bearing
in mind the manner of our defeats here in the last
two seasons, the winning goal came with everyone looking
at their watches and planning their routes home.
Who would you rather have latching
on to a pass on the edge of area with the game up
for grabs than Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink? That is exactly
who was in the right place at the right time when
Lampard played the ball forward with three minutes
Winning his personally battle with
Carragher, he stepped to the right and then beat Dudek
without even switching on the full power.
Anfield fell deathly silent bar the
celebrating Chelsea fans, just as it had done in the
24th minute when we first took the lead. This time
the silence was even more poignant as up until that
point, the Kop had been exercising its collective
lung by raining boos down on Juan Sebastian Veron,
his recent past not about to be forgotten.
Nor will his first Chelsea goal be
forgotten in a hurry either. The ball was played out
from the back and Lampard spun it wide for Gronkjaer
Making up the ground comfortably,
the flying Dane drove a great first-time low cross
into the Kop End penalty area where Veron's shot was
hit as sweet as a Black Forest gateau.
Ironically, Gronkjaers incision
was made just seconds after he and Duff had swapped
wings. The left-footed Duff had started on the right
for the first time in a Chelsea shirt but with the
understandings on both wings not totally in tune,
the switch was warranted and successful.
The creative Verons lovely first
time ball almost led to a 2-0 half-time lead when
he sent Eidur Gudjohnsen clear. There was a suspicion
of offside but not in the mind of the linesman who
kept his flag down. Unfortunately, Gudjohnsen also
kept his attempted lift over Dudek down a couple of
inches too much and a great chance went wide.
This win was no cruise and nor was
it ever likely to be. The Chelsea goal came under
threat as early as the second minute when Cudicini
stretched well to keep out Murphy and then in the
period leading up to our opener, Kewell outstripped
the otherwise excellent Terry for pace but flashed
his shot across the face of the goal.
When the Aussie debutant found Owen
in space, Cudicini saved well again. Kewell also volleyed
a clearance from a corner just wide on the stroke
The second-half began in a more cagey
fashion but then became a story of penalties and penalty
Its a sign of changing times
when Liverpool have three appeals turned down in front
of the Kop, the strongest of which being Bridges
hand making contact to a bouncing ball as he turned
to clear. At the fourth attempt however, Liverpool
Diouf, a second-half sub had begun
to make in-roads down our right, and William Gallas
replaced Johnson with just under a quarter of the
game to go to shore up that side.
However with an echo of Chelseas
opening goal, Diouf had moved to the other side when
Bridge brought him down and the spot-kick was awarded.
Owen lamely scooped his shot kick
and the win seemed assured but then to the sheer incredulity
of the Chelsea team, the kick was ordered to be retaken
Owen was unlikely to fail twice and
this time the ball crashed into the roof of the net.
There was now quarter-of-an-hour to
hang on for the pessimists or win it for the optimists.
Heskey swung over a dangerous cross
and Gronkjaer stooped to head behind as the tension
But then with the seconds disappearing
fast, Chelsea once more worked the ball up field and
the crucial ball was played in the direction of Hasselbaink,
on as a half-time replacement for Gudjohnsen.
Surely the heroic effort wouldnt
be blown now. Cudicini had to smartly gather a Hyypia
header in the dying seconds to prevent a repeat of
the last two seasons heartbreak but we were
not to be denied.
Forget big signings as a statement
of intent, what greater way to announce a new Chelsea
than to pull off only our third win at Liverpool since
the war and to inflict their first home opening day
defeat since 1962