Antonio Conte’s side reacted well in the second half having trailed 2-0 at half-time – Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson on target for Jurgen Klopp’s side – but although Diego Costa reduced the deficit with half an hour left to play we were unable to kick on and salvage anything from the game.
There was just one change to the team which started at Swansea last Sunday, with David Luizcoming in for the injured John Terry to make his first appearance since re-joining the club at the end of last month. Branislav Ivanovic captained the side in Terry’s absence.
Ahead of kick-off a new flag, designed by supporters and celebrating 50 years of the Shed, was unfurled in the upper tier of the stand.
It was a frenetic start to the contest with both teams looking to get on the front foot when in possession and after a Chelsea counter attack had broken down with Willian being dispossessed on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area, Thibaut Courtois had to be alert to save from former Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge.
Liverpool were seeing more of the ball during the early part of the game with the Blues content to defend in large numbers and wait for an opportunity to exploit the spaces.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead after just 16 minutes when a Philippe Coutinho cross caught us out. Three Liverpool players were waiting unmarked at the back post and while Sturridge appeared to be offside, Lovren met the delivery on the volley, sending his strike bouncing into the ground and beyond Courtois.
We were struggling to enjoy a sustained period of possession and seven minutes after taking the lead Liverpool almost doubled their advantage but Sturridge’s drive, from a tight angle, fizzed inches past the far post
As we attempted to find a route back into the contest Eden Hazard’s delivery from the left was claimed by Simon Mignolet and N’Golo Kante saw a speculative effort from distance fly over the bar, but as the half-hour mark approached we hadn’t done enough from an attacking point of view.
Ten minutes before half-time it was 2-0 to the visitors. Henderson picked the ball up 35 yards from goal and while there appeared to be minimal threat, the midfielder bent a right-footed strike up and over the outstretched arm of Courtois.
David Luiz headed over the bar from a Willian corner as we looked to hit back immediately but there were no further chances before the end of the first half and we headed back inside at the break with plenty of work to do.
Antonio Conte opted against making any changes at the break and we started the second half in a positive manner, but with Diego Costa often lacking support in attacking areas clear-cut opportunities were proving difficult to come by.
On the hour mark, however, we were back in the game, and it was that man Diego Costaproducing the goods once again.
Much of the credit went to Nemanja Matic who exchanged passes with Hazard and got to the by-line before flicking it back into the path of Diego Costa who scrambled the ball over the line for his third goal in two matches.
The striker almost equalised from our next attack when Matic’s pass was headed into his path byOscar. Diego Costa brought the ball under control and spun, but his left-footed snap-shot was straight down the throat of Mignolet.
Unsurprisingly, the goal changed the complexion of the game, with the Blues buoyed by the positive turn of events.
Liverpool, though, remained a real threat going forward, unaffected by the change to personnel which saw Divock Origi replace Sturridge as the focal point of their attack.
Courtois was forced into a save to deny Coutinho, and followed it up with a better one moments later, scrambling down to push Origi’s point-blank header away to safety.
With the clock ticking down Conte made a triple substitution with three attack-minded players coming on – Cesc Fabregas, Victor Moses and Pedro replacing Matic, Willian and Oscarrespectively.
Moses and Pedro took up positions on each flank, with Hazard moving inside to play off Diego Costa for the closing stages.
The Belgian was tripped on the edge of the box by Lucas as he got to a loose ball first, presenting us with a free-kick in a dangerous position. Fabregas stepped forward, but his effort cannoned against the wall and Liverpool were able to clear.
It was to be our last opportunity of the game and despite a spirited second-half display the points went the visitors’ way.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Courtois; Ivanovic (c), Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta; Kante; Willian (Moses 83), Matic ( Fabregas 83), Oscar (Pedro 83), Hazard; Diego Costa.
Unused subs: Begovic, Aina, Alonso, Batshuayi
Scorer Diego Costa 60
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Lallana, Henderson (c), Wijnaldum (Stewart 89); Mane, Sturridge (Origi 57), Coutinho (Lucas 81).
Unused subs: Karios, Grujic, Moreno, Ejaria
Scorers Lovren 17, Henderson 35
Booked Lucas 88
Referee Martin Atkinson