Christian Benteke scored in the 92nd minute to rescueLiverpool a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Anfield this evening.
Eden Hazard had given the visitors the lead with a fine solo effort in the first half, but an Asmir Begovic error late on allowed Benteke to earn his side a point late on.
Jurgen Klopp named a strong team for his side’s final home game of the season, despite the Europa League final being just seven days away, and Liverpool’s first-choice XI got off to a quick start.
The first chance arrived after just five minutes when Alberto Moreno cut the ball back to Philippe Coutinhoinside the box, but the Brazilian’s goalbound effort was blocked by Abdul Baba Rahman.
Asmir Begovic was called into action twice in quick succession shortly afterwards, first denying Adam Lallana‘s low strike before comfortably gathering a follow-up effort from Coutinho.
The visitors did soon settle into the match, though, and Liverpool were largely limited to long-range efforts as Dejan Lovren and Daniel Sturridge fired speculative shots well off target.
The one exception was when Roberto Firmino was released through on goal down the left channel, but a wayward touch at a crucial moment saw a presentable chance go begging.
Simon Mignolet‘s first serious piece of action came midway through the first half when Eden Hazard was afford space to shoot from just outside the area, but the keeper pushed his low drive away and Kolo Tourewas able to complete the clearance.
Hazard did beat his compatriot just past the hour mark, however, as the Chelsea winger finally showed the sort of form that saw him named last season’s player of the year by dancing past a number of defenders and finding the bottom corner with an inch-perfect finish.
Liverpool looked to come up with a quick response when Coutinho bent an effort towards goal that Begovic needed to beat away, before the Chelsea shot-stopper made a more routine save to keep out Sturridge moments later.
The visitors had a good chance to double their advantage with a little over five minutes remaining of the match when Traore beat Mignolet to a through-ball, leaving the Liverpool keeper in no-man’s land, but the Chelsea striker curled his shot off target when trying to pick out the top corner.
Cesc Fabregas had one final effort in the first half when he collected a quick free kick short before flashing an effort narrowly wide of the post, but the deficit remained at one going into the interval.
Hazard attempted to change that with another moment of magic when he once again weaved his way into a shooting position, but this time Mignolet was able to keep out the low strike.
Liverpool’s best chances of the match finally arrived in quick succession just past the hour mark, with the first coming when Lallana’s clever reverse pass found Sturridge, who was thwarted by Begovic with only the keeper to beat.
Sturridge collected the resulting corner short and swing his cross in to Toure, but the experienced defender’s stopping header was simple for the keeper to collect.
Pedro then stung the palms of Mignolet at the other end before Liverpool threatened with another corner which Begovic could only punch as far as Lallana, but the midfielder skewed his first-time volley wide.
There were chances for both sides in the closing stages as Sheyi Ojo threatened for the hosts just seconds after coming on when he latched on to Joe Allen‘s cross and put the ball right back across the face of goal, but there were no red shirts to turn it home.
Moments later Pedro found himself clean through on goal having been released by Hazard, but Mignolet produced a smart stop to deny the Spaniard.
It would prove to be a vital save as Liverpool rescued a draw in the second of three added minutes, with Begovic putting it on a plate for Benteke when he flapped at Ojo’s cross, diverting it straight to the Liverpool striker and leaving him with the simplest of finishes at the back post.
The result means that fifth place is now out of reach for Liverpool, while sixth place would require a win against West Bromwich Albion on the final day and for West Ham United to lose to Stoke City.