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Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 18:29 GMT

Nine-man Chelsea crash at Anfield

Ed De Goey is sent the wrong way but Owen's penalty went wide

Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea

Mike Ingham: "It was deja vu for Gerrard Houllier after the Arsenal win"
High-flying Chelsea were sent crashing back to earth as Marcel Desailly and Dennis Wise were sent off at Anfield.

David Thompson's opportunistic goal early in the second half handed Liverpool a deserved victory in a full-blooded contest.

[ image: Desailly is led away]
Desailly is led away
The Blues, in their first Premiership outing since the 5-0 thrashing of champions Manchester United, looked nothing like title contenders.

They were reduced to 10 men after 75 minutes after French defender Desailly was sent off for two bookable offences.

And two minutes from time Wise followed his colleague off the pitch when he floored Vladimir Smicer with an elbow.

Liverpool's margin of victory should have been even greater, but Michael Owen missed a penalty immediately after Desailly had been ordered off.

Sluggish start

The second 45 minutes may have been packed with incident - but the first half was dire, as both teams adopted defensive tactics.

Predictably enough for such a negative opening, Liverpool's first genuine threat on the Chelsea goal came from a set-piece, after Desailly was booked for deliberate handball on 35 minutes.

[ image: Red card man Dennis Wise fails to beat Michael Owen]
Red card man Dennis Wise fails to beat Michael Owen
From the free-kick Jamie Redknapp smacked a stunning 30-yard strike that shaved Ed De Goey's bar.

And it was a free-kick that brought the winning goal at the start of the second half - after Frank Leboeuf had hacked down Owen on the right-hand side of the area.

Steve Staunton swung over a cross, Gustavo Poyet made a mess of the clearance and - with the Uruguayan flat on his back in the six-yard box - Thompson pounced to score.

It was an uncharacteristic example of lax defending from a team that had conceded just three goals before this game.

Suddenly a drab game burst into life as Chelsea, clearly stung by going behind, adopted a more frantic pace and the tackles began to fly in from both sides.

'Too physical'

Leboeuf, who caused a stir last week when he criticised English football for being too combative, was forced off midway through the second half, after suffering a hamstring injury in another clash with Owen.

[ image: Chris Sutton is unimpressed by Mike Reed's red card for Dennis Wise]
Chris Sutton is unimpressed by Mike Reed's red card for Dennis Wise
He was replaced by Graeme Le Saux, who was greeted with jeers from the Anfield faithful - a reference to his tussle last February with Robbie Fowler, when the Liverpool striker made suggestions about his sexuality during the match.

Liverpool had a golden chance to put the match out of sight 15 minutes from time.

Desailly up-ended Murphy just inside the box and after the Frenchman had been sent off, Owen stepped up to take the penalty.

But the England frontman tried to be too cute. Rather than smacking his spot kick he tried to place it and sent a tame effort wide of De Goey's left-hand post.

[ image: Right place, right time: David Thompson (right) scores Liverpool's winner]
Right place, right time: David Thompson (right) scores Liverpool's winner
With the extra man, Liverpool began to take control and the impressive Murphy sparked a swift counter-attack which ended with Redknapp lashing an angled shot just wide.

But if Gerard Houllier's men thought the win was a formality, they were shaken out of their slumbers by Chelsea's best chance of the match.

Substitute Tore Andre Flo bore down on the Liverpool goal, but Brad Friedel pulled off a fine save to keep out his low shot.

It proved the Londoners' last chance and when Wise was ordered off for the type of tempestuous act that has almost become his trademark, Liverpool's victory was assured.


Liverpool: Friedel, Henchoz, Song, Hyypia, Staunton, Carragher, Smicer, Redknapp, Murphy, Thompson, Owen. Subs: Heggem, Meijer, Matteo, Camara, Nielsen.

Chelsea: De Goey, Petrescu, Babayaro, Leboeuf, Desailly, Deschamps, Poyet, Wise, Ferrer, Sutton, Zola. Subs: Le Saux, Flo, Morris, Lambourde, Cudicini.

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham)

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