LONDON – Chelsea’s David Luiz scored his first goal since returning to the club but Diego Costa’s missed penalty meant the Premier League leaders had to settle for a 1-1 draw at rainy Anfield on Tuesday.
Costa had the chance to restore Chelsea’s lead in the 76th minute but his spot kick was saved by home keeper Simon Mignolet who had a mixed evening.
Mignolet was at fault when Brazilian defender Luiz stroked home a cheeky 24th-minute free kick, getting caught completely off guard as he organized his defensive wall.
Liverpool avoided a fourth consecutive home defeat in all competitions — which would have been their worst home run for 94 years — thanks to Georginio Wijnaldum’s second-half header.
While Chelsea had the best chances to steal the win and make up for this season’s home defeat by Liverpool, they stayed comfortably in charge in the title race, nine points clear of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and 10 above Tuesday’s opponents.
“It’s pity Diego Costa missed the penalty because he played very well,” Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said.
“We had different chances to score goals, but we must be happy with the result and the performance because it is not easy to play away at Liverpool.”
Despite a dreadful run of January form, Liverpool were the better side in the opening stages and Chelsea hardly got a kick.
Dutchman Wijnaldum was the first to spark, forcing Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois into a flying save.
Mignolet had been a spectator but found himself sheepishly picking the ball out of his net after 24 minutes when Luiz spotted him out of position and fired home a free kick awarded for a foul on Eden Hazard by Adam Lallana.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was later charitable to his keeper who claimed he had not heard the whistle.
“That was world class from David Luiz we have to say that. You have to say we have to be prepared but he (Mignolet) was surprised,” Klopp said.
“Even if he was prepared it would have been difficult to save it because it was hit well and right in the corner.”
Roberto Firmino wasted a glorious chance to equalize four minutes after the interval, scooping the ball horribly over the bar in front of goal, but his blushes were spared in the 57th.
Jordan Henderson lofted a pass to the far post, James Milner showed great strength to head the ball across goal and Wijnaldum nodded down and past Courtois.
Chelsea had the better chances thereafter but Mignolet redeemed himself for his earlier lapse with the penalty save from Costa.
Liverpool ended the month with one win from nine matches in all competitions.