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Luis Suarez dealt a huge double blow to Chelsea's Barclays Premier League title hopes after snatching a draw for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
John Terry looked set to enjoy a dream return to action after his four-match ban when he powered the European champions ahead from a corner at Stamford Bridge in the 20th minute. But the Chelsea captain collided accidentally with Suarez, forcing Terry off on a stretcher, with the Liverpool forward going on to equalise for Liverpool and almost steal victory.
The draw prevented Chelsea from climbing back into second place as they recorded their third league game without a win to lie three points behind Manchester United at the top of the table.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers persevered with his experiment of playing three at the back and brought in Jamie Carragher for his first Premier League start of the season. Liverpool had plenty of the ball early on, but Chelsea’s counter-attacking approach almost paid off in the sixth minute when Joe Allen lost possession to Oscar, who was threaded in by Eden Hazard only to lift the ball over the crossbar.
Liverpool, who had won on their previous three visits to Stamford Bridge, continued to probe but conceded from Chelsea's first corner in the 20th minute. Terry was allowed to dart untracked by Daniel Agger to the near post and powered home Juan Mata's delivery.
Another lightning Chelsea break from the lively Hazard led to Fernando Torres' shot being parried by Brad Jones straight to the Belgian, who could not control his volley.
Nuri Sahin dragged wide at the other end before Terry’s accident 10 minutes before half-time. The defender gifted the ball to Steven Gerrard and got back to make a tackle on Suarez, who fell on his right leg, leaving him in agony with suspected knee ligament damage.
After several minutes of treatment, Terry was forced to concede his comeback was over and was carried off on a stretcher with his head in his hands, manager Roberto Di Matteo offering a consoling word before he disappeared down the tunnel.
Gary Cahill replaced Terry with the atmosphere flattening until the fourth minute of stoppage-time when Mata's superb run was marred by a rushed finish that sent the ball over.
Allen was booked for bundling over Torres and Glen Johnson followed for obstructing Oscar, whose free-kick saw Jones produce a brilliant reflex save from Torres' header.
Liverpool hauled off Sahin for Suso as they abandoned their back three and briefly had Chelsea under pressure before Torres went close to prodding in Ryan Bertrand's cross.
Mikel nearly got on the end of a Mata free-kick after Gerrard was cautioned for tripping Oscar. Liverpool's substitution paid off 17 minutes from time when Suso's corner was flicked on by Carragher and Suarez nodded home from point-blank range.
Chelsea came straight back at them but the visitors were defending manfully and Di Matteo wasted little time throwing on Victor Moses, for Oscar.
Liverpool looked just as capable of snatching victory before Torres was replaced by Daniel Sturridge.
Suso shanked wide when well-placed, Suarez tried his luck from the halfway line and Ivanovic powered over a header for Chelsea.
Suarez could have won it for Liverpool after racing clear onto Enrique's ball but for a vital challenge from Cech. And after Hazard blasted narrowly wide, Cech came to Chelsea's rescue again in stoppage-time by keeping out Enrique's powerful near-post shot.
|17 Mar 2013||v West Ham (H)|
|30 Dec 2012||v Everton (A)|
|20 Jan 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|17 Apr 2013||v Fulham (A)|
|08 Dec 2012||v Sunderland (A)|
|21 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (A)|