Olivier Giroud boosted Chelsea’s bid to snatch a invest the Premier League’s top four whilst the France striker sealed a 1-0 win over Liverpool that brought the Champions League finalists back off to earth on Sunday. Giroud’s first-half header at Stamford Bridge lifted fifth-placed Chelsea to within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League. A fourth successive victory equalled Chelsea’s longest league winning streak this year, keeping them in the look for a premier four finish while denting third-placed Liverpool’s challenge for the same target.
It had been a frustrating come back to domestic action for Liverpool after their Champions League semi-final success against Roma in midweek.
In a dramatic conclusion to the very best four battle, Chelsea, who’re three points behind Liverpool, host struggling Huddersfield on Wednesday and Tottenham face Newcastle the same evening.
On the final day of the growing season next Sunday, Chelsea head to Newcastle and Tottenham entertain Leicester.
With just one win in their last five league games, Liverpool have made their top four status an unnecessarily tense affair.
Jurgen Klopp’s team should still have the ability to guarantee a Champions League berth should they beat Brighton at Anfield on Sunday.
Even though they do not finish in the very best four, Liverpool can come back to Europe’s elite club competition by defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26.
Liverpool fans crowded into one corner of the Bridge were still in party mood after their side’s Roman conquest and regular renditions of the “Allez, Allez” European anthem served whilst the soundtrack to a bright opening from the visitors.
Picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass, Roberto Firmino made a sensible run down the right-hand side of the penalty area and tested Thibaut Courtois with a dipping half-volley.
Eden Hazard was the victim of a thunderous tackle from James Milner that left the Chelsea playmaker in need of treatment and the Liverpool midfielder fortunate to prevent a booking.
Hazard dusted himself down and could play on, moments later teeing up Marcos Alonso for Chelsea’s first shot on target.
That was an unusual incursion to the Liverpool area from Chelsea as Klopp’s men dominated possession early on.
– Personal duel –
Sadio Mane’s 25-yard drive forced a sprawling save from Courtois and from the resulting corner, the Chelsea keeper must be alert to avoid Virgil van Dijk heading in from close range.
Mane was in your own duel with Courtois, who kept out another powerful blast from the Senegal winger, then scrambled to his feet to deny him again from the rebound.
But despite their pressure, Liverpool were caught with a sucker punch in the 32nd minute as Giroud justified Conte’s decision to select him at the trouble of the out of form Alvaro Morata.
Victor Moses teased Andrew Robertson as he worked space to swing over a cross and Giroud, stealing facing the slow to react Dejan Lovren, glanced an excellent header to the far corner of the net.
Giroud celebrated his fifth Chelsea goal since his January move from Arsenal by sprinting over to the bench and clambered as much as hug team-mate David Luiz, who wasn’t active in the matchday squad.
Suddenly there clearly was more verve about Chelsea and Cesc Fabregas almost doubled their lead with a low effort that flashed across goal.
Mohamed Salah was anonymous in the first half before Liverpool star was booked for diving, a choice that drew an angry response from Klopp as he berated the fourth official.
Moses threatened with a stinging strike soon after the interval and Hazard followed suit, bringing Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius into action following a thrusting run.
Egypt star Salah was finding it impossible to escape the close attention of Chelsea defenders.
Liverpool were impotent as a result and Chelsea salted away the points after Liverpool substitute Dominic Solanke headed over.