Liverpool’s 100 per cent winning start to the season was all but ended by a stubborn Chelsea at Anfield.
A smart header from German Kai Havertz put countryman Thomas Tuchel’s side ahead, only for Blues defender Reece James to be sent off after handling on the line.
Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah confidently stepped up to lash the penalty away and level the match.
The hosts spurned several chances as the European champions celebrated the draw as if it were a win, much to Liverpool’s frustration.
Last season’s momentum officially halted
After five wins on the spin to finish last season gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a shock Champions League berth against all the odds, and a third-place finish, their seven consecutive Premier League win streak was all but ended by a well-organised Chelsea side.
Signing an extra attacking threat with only days to spare of the transfer window must surely be under serious consideration now for Klopp, Liverpool and FSG if they are to have a successful season and clinch silverware again.
European Champions dubbed title contenders
A beautiful cross-field pass from Trent Alexander Arnold was wastefully slammed wide by captain Jordan Henderson, who should have at least hit the target.
Chelsea stunned the Anfield faithful in the 21st minute as James’ corner was met by Havertz and his looping header swooped past Alisson.
Sloppy play in the middle of the park saw Liverpool dispossessed and Romelu Lukaku swivelled past a hapless Joel Matip and fed Mason Mount, but the England international could only drag a poor effort wide.
Liverpool finally got their reward as pinball in the Chelsea box from a corner saw Matip hit the bar with a near-post header and Sadio Mane’s follow-up effort was hacked off the line by defender James.
Liverpool fans and players protested the handball which was confirmed by referee Anthony Taylor after consulting the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Against his former employers, Salah overcame some unsportsmanlike behaviour from Blues defender Antonio Rüdiger, who scuffed the penalty spot, to send Edouard Mendy the wrong way, as the ball crashed the back of the net, Anfield erupted.
Following the equaliser, Chelsea players continued to hassle Taylor and the officials as they went down the tunnel at half-time.
With an extra man advantage, second-half chances came and went for Liverpool as Diogo Jota headed over after a fine toe-poked cross from the exquisite left boot of Salah.
Midfielder Fabinho then had his long-range drive pushed around the post by the impressive Mendy.
Henderson then fired wide from distance. Salah could only shoot tamely at Mendy when well placed. While, a late Andy Robertson effort was blocked by the Frenchman as Chelsea survived the onslaught.
With a total of 24 shots, seven on target and a home advantage of over 53,000 supporters, the manager and his players will be bitterly disappointed not to have capitalised on their dominance and clinch all three points.
For counterpart Tuchel, media outlets were quick to praise his team’s defensive steel seeing it as a positive result in their own quest to end their four-year title drought.
Chelsea go fourth with Liverpool also on seven points, but sit in fifth on goal difference.
Tottenham finished the weekend top making it three wins from three, with rivals Arsenal rooted to the bottom of the table. The first time in history this has happened.
Scouse hero Trent Alexander-Arnold may have missed out on this summer’s Euros through injury but he is back in Gareth Southgate’s latest squad.
Also included is club captain Henderson for the World Cup Qualifying clashes against Hungary at the Puskás Aréna, Andorra at Wembley and Poland in Warsaw.
After the international break, Liverpool take on Leeds United on the 12th September at Elland Road, exactly a year to the day the two sides played out a memorable 4-3 encounter at Anfield.
Promising wins in the opening two weekends
Having had a successful pre-season and the return to fitness of defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, as well as the arrival of new signing Ibrahima Konaté, their seems to be a feel good around the club.
This was reflected by a confident 3-0 away victory over Norwich City with attackers Jota, impact substitute Bobby Firmino and the ever-potent Salah, getting amongst the goals.
The Egyptian King goes down in Liverpool history as the first player to score in the club’s opening fixture five seasons in a row.
This was backed up by another convincing win, this time a 2-0 win against Burnley in the club’s first home game of the season.
Goals from Jota and Mane gave the Kop the perfect summer celebration.
However, the draw against Chelsea, who were a man down and on the ropes for most of the second half, will be seen as a missed opportunity for Klopp and his players.
With the title race looking like being a closely fought battle, every point and performance will count as the club looks to retain the title they worked so hard to win last year.