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The BBC's John Murray
"You'd be forgiven for believing that Liverpool had the tightest defence"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Weah gives Liverpool the Blues

Weah (left) was the key figure for Chelsea early on
Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Chelsea stepped up their bid for European football next season with an excellent victory over high-flying Liverpool.


Match facts
2: George Weah gives Chelsea a flying start
14: Roberto Di Matteo doubles the Blues' advantage
75: Reds substitute Robbie Fowler gets a chance to impress Kevin Keegan
Master striker George Weah inspired the Blues, who blew the visitors away with a barnstorming start to the game at Stamford Bridge.

In-form Liverpool needed to win to secure their place in Europe next season - but they had no answer to Chelsea and their former World Footballer of the Year Weah.

The Reds were toothless in attack and over-run in midfield - and their defence, which boasts the best record in the Premiership, had no answer to Chelsea's incisive passing and movement up front.



Chelsea keeper Ed de Goey clutches the ball under pressure
Goals from Weah and the impressive Roberto Di Matteo effectively ended the contest after just 14 minutes.

Liverpool suffered their first defeat in 14 games as the home side responded in perfect fashion to manager Gianluca Vialli's recent outburst.

Vialli, who accused some players of not trying hard enough following last Monday's 3-2 defeat at Manchester United, made six changes to his starting line-up.

Captain Dennis Wise was one of the Chelsea players not blamed by Vialli for the team's recent slump and he took his place in the side for his 400th appearance for the club.

Double act

Liverpool, unbeaten since January 3, fell behind as early as the second minute.

Di Matteo won the ball inside the Liverpool half and slipped a precise pass through to Weah, who beat Sander Westerveld with a low, angled shot into the opposite corner.



They made us appear poor, especially at the beginning. They had a flying start and we had an indifferent one. After that we were stunned.

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
With just 14 minutes on the clock Chelsea were two up - with the same two players involved, but this time reversing their roles.

In a sweeping right-wing move, Weah exchanged passes with Gianfranco Zola and, without looking up, stroked the ball into the path of Di Matteo, who side-footed a firm strike into the back of the net.

Chelsea were in complete control and threatened to go further ahead before the match was even a quarter old.

But Jon Harley headed over, Zola was unable to keep his free-kick down and Westerveld palmed away a goal-bound cross-shot from Di Matteo.

Liverpool, by contrast, offered virtually nothing in attack in the first half.

Dietmar Hamann twice tried his luck from long range, but it smacked of desperation on the part of the Reds, who were generally over-run by the likes of Weah, Zola, Wise and Jody Morris.

Top-heavy strikeforce

Liverpool were becoming desperate and manager Gerard Houllier was forced to employ no less than four strikers as he sought the equaliser, substitutes Titi Camara and Robbie Fowler joining Emile Heskey and Michael Owen up front.

For Fowler the game offered the chance to press for a place in England's Euro 2000 squad following his long injury lay-off.

But most of the action continued to take place in the Liverpool half.

Di Matteo crashed a 25-yard strike just wide and Westerveld did well to race off his line and deny Harley.

Teams:

Chelsea: de Goey, Melchiot, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro, Di Matteo, Wise, Morris, Harley, Zola, Weah.
Subs: Poyet, Sutton, Ambrosetti, Cudicini, Thome.

Liverpool: Westerveld, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Matteo, Murphy, Hamann, Gerrard, Berger, Owen, Heskey.
Subs: Song, Fowler, Redknapp, Camara, Nielsen.

Referee: G Barber (Tring)

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