Luis Suarez Takes Bite out of Branislav Ivanovic as Liverpool Deny Chelsea
Suarez, Liverpool's supremely talented Uruguayan international striker with a history of courting controversy (including of the biting variety), is set for more trouble after television replays appeared to show him biting Branislav Ivanovic's arm during the second half of his team's 2-2 draw with Chelsea.
The fallout could mean Suarez misses some or all of Liverpool's four remaining league matches, and if his season is done, it certainly finished on a dramatic note. With Liverpool trailing 2-1 deep in second-half stoppage time, Suarez scored the goal that secured the draw and left Chelsea stuck in fourth place at least a few more days.
That goal, which hurt Chelsea's hopes of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League, should have been the storyline everyone is talking about. Instead, we'll be talking about how Suarez earlier went into crazy mode.
The incident, which happened well before the late drama, appears in the GIF above. It's hard to see exactly what happened, but live television footage suggested it was indeed a bite. If so, Suarez can expect to face another lengthy ban—along with what's sure to be a loud and indignant outcry from the public.
All in all, it was a hectic day for Suarez, who scored, assisted another goal and conceded a penalty after being whistled for a handball.
Already the reactions are pouring in.
Ivanovic hesitated when he should have been closer to Suarez for that goal. Once bitten, twice shy.— Tony Mabert (@TonyMabertESPN) April 21, 2013
Suarez just ate that chance up nicely!! Sturridge the #GameChanger ....— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) April 21, 2013
Probably hungry for one. MT @optajoe 500 - Luis Suarez has now gone over 500 min w/o scoring a Premier League goal for Liverpool. Drought.— Free Beer Movement (@FreeBeerMovemnt) April 21, 2013
Chelsea kicked off with full knowledge of Spurs' stunning second-half turnaround against Manchester City earlier Sunday. Coupled with Arsenal's victory Saturday at Fulham, the Blues' late kickoff brought with it a degree of pressure.
The home fans warmly welcomed former manager Rafa Benitez, now interim boss at Chelsea, back to Anfield as Benitez made three changes to the side that won 3-0 at Fulham midweek. Cesar Azpilicueta replaced Ryan Bertrand in defense, John Obi Mikel returned to the midfield at Frank Lampard's expense and Victor Moses made way for Oscar.
A number of Liverpool fans have reviewed the tape of the Suarez incident and they have confirmed it was *definitely* arm to mouth.— Jay (@Jay_in_Essex) April 21, 2013
Coming off consecutive scoreless league draws, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made only one change: Stewart Downing started in the attack, with Daniel Sturridge—who moved from Chelsea to Liverpool earlier this season—moving to the bench.
The Reds created the first clear chance with a flowing move in the fifth minute. Jordan Henderson picked out Suarez, who swiveled and laid off for Glen Johnson. The defender poked his shot wide.
Chelsea responded through Ramires' shot in the 20th minute and took the lead six minutes later. Oscar escaped from Jamie Carragher's attention with a near-post run away from goal and headed a corner in at the near post off goalkeeper Pepe Reina's hand.
Replays showed confusion between Carragher and fellow central defender Daniel Agger ahead of the corner. The mix-up gave the diminutive Oscar space to exploit, and the lack of a defender on the post made Reina's task harder.
The result was Chelsea's 15th headed goal in the league this season, the most among Premiership clubs.
Chelsea nearly added a fortunate second moments later as Reina was momentarily bamboozled by David Luiz's dipping free kick. The visitors went into halftime ahead 1-0 without having reached top gear, but after the break Liverpool looked like a different side.
Sturridge entered as a substitute at halftime, and the effect was immediate. The England forward set up Steven Gerrard seconds after the restart, and Gerrard's near-post shot was saved excellently by Petr Cech. Sturridge then rattled the upright with a long-distance shot in the 47th minute, with Cech beaten.
Agger forced another save out of Cech with a low header from a corner before Sturridge found the equalizer Liverpool deserved. Downing knocked down a long ball for Suarez, who curled a cross to Sturridge at the back post.
Sturridge swept home to cap off Liverpool's blistering start to the second half, but all the work was undone quickly. Suarez was whistled for a handball in the box at the other end, and Eden Hazard tucked home the penalty to restore Chelsea's advantage at 2-1 in the 57th minute.
Plenty of drama was left in store, with most of it surrounding Suarez. The match ended with Suarez making good on the pitch, but the coming days will surely bring further developments to the story.
With his history, it's hard to foresee anything other than a lengthy ban coming his way.
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