A group of Liverpool fans "took exception" to Chelsea supporters mocking Steven Gerrard outside Anfield after Jose Mourinho's team derailed the Reds' title charge with a 2-0 win.
As reported by John Drayton of the Daily Mail, the atmosphere turned heated when away fans sang about Gerrard, whose vital slip handed Chelsea the initiative in front of the Kop:
Pictures have emerged of a scuffle outside the Anfield Road end of the stadium after Liverpool fans took exception to Chelsea supporters singing about Reds captain Steven Gerrard after the match. One fan appeared to throw a punch while others had to be restrained by police.
The photos in questions were posted on Twitter by Footy Away Days, although this feed suggests clashes took place after a fan spat on the Hillsborough Memorial:
Emotions were obviously strained after such an important match. Chelsea headed to Merseyside needing a win to remain within touching distance of the top and were set up to frustrate their attacking hosts.
Mourinho's defensive system centred on a back six—four defenders and two defensive midfielders sitting just in front—to halt a famous Liverpool blitzing early in the match.
Although Brendan Rodgers' side dominated possession they were unable to carve open any telling opportunities throughout the first half. Gerrard slipped when receiving a simple pass, allowing Demba Ba to steal the ball and slot under Simon Mignolet's legs just before the break, giving Chelsea something to hang onto.
Proceedings were much the same in the second half. Liverpool dominated without threatening too much, leaving Mark Schwarzer to deal with a handful of shots he will always be expected to save.
As the final whistle approached, Chelsea's counter-attack broke clear with Willian, who tapped the ball home after Fernando Torres passed beyond Mignolet to set up an open goal.
Andy Hunter of The Guardian suggested Liverpool fans tried to unnerve the away team prior to kick-off. He said, "Fireworks were set off outside Chelsea's team hotel before the game, with several prank calls also attempted." But fortunately for the winners, such distractions weren't felt on the pitch.
Mourinho clearly set his team out to irritate, with obvious time-wasting tactics and an emphasis on limiting Liverpool's attack, but his strategy paid off. Rodgers was left frustrated by his former tutor's tactics, noted by Chris Bevan of BBC Sport:
"They parked two buses, rather than one," Rodgers said. "From the first minute they had 10 men behind the ball. We were the team trying to win but we just couldn't make the breakthrough."
The result leaves Liverpool two points ahead of their opponents. Manchester City will win the title if they rack up three points in each of their remaining three games—barring two Liverpool victories and a momentous goal-difference swing—leaving Merseyside supporters in despair.
While physical exchanges between supporters will drum up headlines across the next 24 hours, this result may potentially define the Premier League season. It is certainly destined to live long in the memory, especially if the scoreline blocks Liverpool's long-awaited ascension to the domestic throne.
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