Chelsea needed some luck to get away with three points at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but get away with three points they did. Goals by Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o allowed the Blues to turn around a match that Liverpool grabbed a hold of just three minutes in and take a valuable 2-1 win over a title contender into the new year.
The match started with a bang as Martin Skrtel put the visitors up after just three minutes. John Terry got in front of a whipped in free kick, but it hit him more than anything so it fell for Skrtel, who banged the ball home to shock the Stamford Bridge crowd before some of them even found their seats.
Chelsea came back quickly with a handful of chances, but they couldn't find a way through. Simon Mignolet made a tremendous save and some last second defending by Liverpool kept the Blues out, but that was only good until the 17th minute.
A smooth Chelsea move was interrupted by a poke from the Liverpool defense, but it fell to Hazard, who took one touch to settle before hitting an absolute rocket past Mignolet. It was a peach of a strike for the on-fire Chelsea man and it brought the home side level.
Liverpool came back into the match after Chelsea leveled, but the match was still thrilling. Open play and furious pace gave both sides chances, but nobody found the net again until after the half-hour mark when a Chelsea striker actually scored a real goal that counted.
Oscar's clever work down the right and lovely low cross right onto the foot of Eto'o gave the striker a chance, but that hasn't meant much to the Cameroonian this season. He's been incredibly wasteful and it could be argued that he was again this time, hitting the ball slowly and within Mignolet's reach, but the Liverpool goalkeeper still couldn't push the ball past the post. He got a hand to the shot, but it still crept over the line for a rare goal by a Chelsea striker.
Liverpool had the better of the play in the second half, but Lady Luck was not on their side. First, Mamadou Sakho got on the end of a Jordan Henderson cross and hit a header that left Petr Cech hopeless, but the ball rattled off the bar. Not long after, John Terry bundled over Luis Suarez for a sure penalty, but Howard Webb inexplicably waved play on and Liverpool were left to wonder "what if?"
For the second straight match, Liverpool had gone away to one of the league's best teams and played well. They were, at worst, even with their opponent, but once again their poor finishing and bad luck kept them from getting a point as Chelsea, like Manchester City before them, walked away with a win.
Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Lampard (Mikel 45'), Luiz, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Eto'o.
Goals: Hazard 17', Eto'o 34'.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Agger, Sakho, Skrtel, Johnson, Henderson, Leiva, Allen, Coutinho, Suarez, Sterling.
Goals: Skrtel 3'.