Liverpool 1, Chelsea 1
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte declared himself pleased after his side tightened their stranglehold on the Premier League summit despite wasting the chance to beat Liverpool on Tuesday night.
The Blues moved nine points clear after a pulsating contest in which Liverpool midfielder Giorginio Wijnaldum equalised David Luiz’s opportunistic first-half free-kick.
It might have been even better for the visitors, had Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet not atoned for his blunder for Luiz’s opener by saving a late Diego Costa penalty.
But a point still strengthened Chelsea’s position as faltering title rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday, failed to take advantage.
“I’m pleased. We had different chances to score goals, but we must be happy with the result and the performance because it is not easy to play away at Liverpool,” said Conte.
“The best thing is to see ourselves, not the others. We stay top of the table and that is a great achievement but it is important to focus on ourselves.
“There are 15 games remaining and 45 points. It is important to draw against a really good team and now we must focus on playing Arsenal next week.”
Liverpool remain fourth, with just one win from their last nine games, but manager Jurgen Klopp drew encouragement from a spirited display.
“We gave a very important sign for our fans but especially for us that we are still there,” he said.
“Let’s do the best we can and let’s look where it ends at the end of the season. Everyone saw it tonight, we will fight for each point.”
Luiz opened the scoring in the 24th minute with his first goal since rejoining Chelsea in the summer, a fierce free-kick with the instep that hit the net before a distracted Mignolet had registered it.
Liverpool ought to have equalised shortly after half-time but Roberto Firmino inexplicably hurried when then ball fell kindly to him 12 yards out and spooned his shot well over the bar.
Wijnaldum showed a cooler – and more potent – head in the 57th minute when James Milner nodded Jordan Henderson’s cross back into the goal-mouth and the Holland midfielder planted it low past Thibaut Courtois.
The hosts’ comeback looked to have been in vain when Costa tumbled over Joel Matip’s tangled leg 13 minutes from time, only for Mignolet to redeem himself by sprawling to his right and stopping the spot-kick.
There was still time for substitute Sadio Mane to lay on another presentable chance for Firmino, but this time the Brazil forward headed straight into the arms of Courtois.