Premier League – Liverpool end Chelsea record to go top

Xabi Alonso‘s early goal gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to send the Reds to the top of the Premier League and end the hosts’ impressive unbeaten run at home.

FOOTBALL 2008-2009 Premier League Liverpool players celebrate Xabi Alonso's goal - 0

Alonso struck with a deflected shot after just 10 minutes to add weight to a growing argument that claims this Liverpool side are finally capable of ending an 18-year wait for the league title.

As for Chelsea, the defeat was their first of the season – and the first under the stewardship of Luiz Felipe Scloari – putting an end to their incredible home record of 86 games without loss – a run that had endured for four years and eight months.

Victory saw Liverpool take a three-point lead over Chelsea and surprise contenders Hull City at the summit of the Premier League. Chelsea travel to Hull on Wednesday.

Pre-match concern on Merseyside had centred on the absence of the injured Fernando Torres for the trip to west London, but Liverpool had already proved they are capable of beating top class opposition without their star striker this season – just ask Manchester United.

And so it was again at Stamford Bridge as fellow Spaniard Alonso proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The midfielder struck a shot from the edge of the Chelsea penalty area only to see it take enough of a deflection off Jose Bosingwa to leave Petr Cech completely wrong-footed and powerless to react as it bounced over the line.

Alonso struck a post with a free-kick before Ashley Cole wasted a great chance to restore parity on 73 minutes.

With that miss went Chelsea’s hopes of getting something from the game as Liverpool battened down the hatches at the back and held on to all three points.

The opening to the match was a cagey affair, with both sides unwilling to show their full pack of cards as they took their time in figuring out the opposition.

The early goal sparked proceedings into life while momentarily rocking Chelsea – and their backline in particular – as Liverpool came forward seeking to hammer home their early advantage.

Twice they went close to doubling the lead, first Alert Riera shooting into the side netting after having robbed Bosingwa of the ball on the left hand side, and then Gerrard forcing Cech into tipping over the bar from his well-struck 25-yarder.

As the opening period wore on, Chelsea settled and eventually began to cause a few problems for the Liverpool defence.

Gerrard was nearly left with egg on his face on 37 minutes when he pulled up expecting a free kick for a foul; there was no whistle and Deco was allowed to break, taking the ball all the way to edge of the Liverpool box. But the Portuguese midfielder was off target, his shot bouncing wide of Jose Reina’s upright.

After the break, Alonso left Cech wrong-footed for a second time with a superbly-struck free-kick from 25 yards, only to be denied a brace by the upright.

And when Cole was played in by a neat Frank Lampard nod down with 17 minutes remaining, it looked like Alonso would be left to rue his misfortune.

It was not to be as Cole conspired to slice his first time effort wide of the mark, when finding the target seemed easier.

Instead, it was the England defender who was left to rue his profligacy as Chelsea – a Deco shot that was deflected behind for a corner aside – struggled to create any further clear cut chances.

At the other end, substitute Ryan Babel went close to sealing the points as time ran out but his sweet drive flew inches wide of the post.