Match ends, Liverpool 1, Chelsea 2.
Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea
- Costa seals victory with 10th goal of the season
- Win continues Chelsea's unbeaten start in the league
- Goalline technology confirms Cahill goal for Chelsea
- Defeat was Liverpool's fifth in the league
Chelsea strengthened their grip on the Premier League title race as they came from behind to win at Liverpool.
Emre Can's deflected shot gave Liverpool an early lead but Gary Cahill swiftly levelled for Chelsea with the help of goalline technology, confirming that Reds keeper Simon Mignolet had carried his effort over the line.
Diego Costa - a one-time target for Liverpool who had a running battle with Martin Skrtel throughout - secured the three points for Jose Mourinho's side midway through the second half to maintain their unbeaten league record.
Chelsea were superior overall, although Liverpool will complain bitterly they should have had a late penalty when Cahill appeared to handle Steven Gerrard's shot.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made seven changes to the weakened side defeated by Real Madrid in the Champions League this week - but his ploy of making the Chelsea game a priority failed as they were condemned to defeat.
For Liverpool, it was also a sobering afternoon and an illustration of how these two teams have gone in opposite directions since they last met here in April.
On that day Liverpool were on course for the title, only for Chelsea to win 2-0 and change the course of the race that was eventually won by Manchester City.
Since then the Reds have lost their talisman Luis Suarez, as well as injured Daniel Sturridge, while Chelsea have strengthened with the bustling, aggressive figure of Costa - and what a difference he has made.
The visitors looked dangerous and stronger physically and talk of a potential 'Invincibles' campaign will only increase after this win.
Rodgers' rearranged side took an early lead when Can's long-range shot took a decisive deflection off Cahill to leave keeper Thibaut Courtois wrong-footed.
Liverpool needed to protect their advantage and, if possible, build on it but more of the defensive sloppiness that has characterised their season saw Chelsea equalise within five minutes.
Costa flicked on Cesc Fabregas's corner and even though Mignolet saved brilliantly from John Terry's header, he could only carry Cahill's effort from the rebound over the line, with confirmation provided by goalline technology.
The running battle between Costa and defender Skrtel was a theme of the first half, with referee Anthony Taylor taking a very lenient approach to the constant physical clashes between the pair, deciding to keep his card in his pocket.
Chelsea's greater power was winning influence in midfield and on a couple of occasions Liverpool's defenders needed to block in desperation as Eden Hazard found space.
The home team's best hope was the pace and dash of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, who both tested Courtois on the rare occasions Liverpool were able to get in behind Chelsea's defence.
Mourinho's man were in front after 67 minutes when Cesar Azpilicueta escaped on the left - although Liverpool's fans felt the ball had gone out - and when Mignolet could only palm his cross into the path of Costa, the striker drilled home an unerring finish.
Rodgers responded with a double change but it was not one that was well-received. The removal of Can and Coutinho was greeted with loud jeers as Joe Allen and Fabio Borini came on.
Liverpool mounted a late rally of sorts, culminating in that penalty appeal, but Chelsea increasingly have a look of Premier League champions even after so few games.
- 23CanSubstituted forAllenat 70'minutes
- 10CoutinhoSubstituted forBoriniat 70'minutes
- 45BalotelliBooked at 65minsSubstituted forLambertat 79'minutes
- 31SterlingBooked at 43mins
- 4K Touré
- 13CourtoisBooked at 90mins
- 2IvanovicBooked at 48mins
- 21MaticBooked at 69mins
- 7RamiresSubstituted forWillianat 54'minutes
- 8OscarBooked at 83mins
- 10E HazardSubstituted forFilipe Luisat 90+5'minutes
- 19Diego CostaBooked at 87minsSubstituted forDrogbaat 90'minutes
- 3Filipe Luis
- Anthony Taylor
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Liverpool 1, Chelsea 2.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Simon Mignolet.
Substitution, Chelsea. Filipe Luis replaces Eden Hazard.
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Fabio Borini (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Alberto Moreno with a cross.
Foul by Fabio Borini (Liverpool).
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Substitution, Chelsea. Didier Drogba replaces Diego Costa because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Diego Costa (Chelsea) because of an injury.
Attempt blocked. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Rickie Lambert with a headed pass.
Diego Costa (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Diego Costa (Chelsea).
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
Foul by Martin Skrtel (Liverpool).
Gary Cahill (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Oscar (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Oscar (Chelsea).
Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).
Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Liverpool. Rickie Lambert replaces Mario Balotelli.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by John Terry.
Attempt blocked. Mario Balotelli (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Allen.
Attempt blocked. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joe Allen.
Fabio Borini (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Nemanja Matic.
Attempt blocked. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Offside, Liverpool. Alberto Moreno tries a through ball, but Mario Balotelli is caught offside.
Offside, Liverpool. Alberto Moreno tries a through ball, but Fabio Borini is caught offside.
Substitution, Liverpool. Joe Allen replaces Emre Can.
Substitution, Liverpool. Fabio Borini replaces Philippe Coutinho.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Glen Johnson (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
Goal! Liverpool 1, Chelsea 2. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.