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Mane destroys Chelsea as Liverpool star nets quickfire double

Sadio Mane ran riot as Liverpool secured a big three points over Premier League rivals Chelsea on Sunday.

Yes, the dismissal of Andreas Christensen decided this game. But, more than that, it was about the gulf between Liverpool and the rest. The money Chelsea have spent will not bring them nearer the champions until it delivers a defence and goalkeeper that can be trusted.

Thiago Silva may change that, Ben Chilwell, too. But yesterday, the walking catastrophe that is Kepa Arrizabalaga combined with the vulnerability of Christensen to undo Frank Lampard’s gameplan and deliver the game to Liverpool. That Chelsea’s strategy was about stopping the visitors rather than matching them says it all really. They is still a gulf between.

read also:Havertz: Klopp still hungry for more at Liverpool

The Liverpool and Chelsea managers continue to downplay a growing rivalry between the pair.

Christensen went in first-half injury time and within five minutes of the restart, Liverpool got the breakthrough goal that was always likely to result from a numerical imbalance. The man who had tormented Christensen into an early return to the dressing-room was at the heart of it, as he was at the heart of this victory. Sadio Mane, Liverpool’s best forward last season, is showing no sign of letting up.

His pace frightened Christensen into a calamitous foul and his movement eluded the remaining Chelsea defenders to give Liverpool the lead. It was a lovely move, quick and direct, Salah out to Roberto Firmino, his cross met by Mane, powering a header past Arrizabalaga.

The second, four minutes later? Well, that was very much a self-inflicted wound. Mane lost the ball and in a state of fury continued chasing, Fikayo Tomori – on at half-time as Chelsea re-organised – tidied up by knocking a pass back to Arrizabalaga. He had all the time to take the easy route out. Instead he tried to play a short pass to Reece James which Mane read like a big print Janet and John book. He nicked the ball and tapped it into an empty net. Chelsea have had all summer to sort out this lamentable decline of such a vital player. Surely with Edouard Mendy’s transfer all but completed, his race is run.

Maybe that of Jorginho as penalty-taker, too, given that he missed one that could have brought Chelsea back to life with 17 minutes remaining. Thiago Alcantara gave it away, perhaps too keen on his debut as a half-time substitute for the injured Jordan Henderson, clumsily tripping Timo Werner. The German won one at Brighton last week, and watched as Jorginho converted it. Maybe he will have more to say, having now watched the Brazilian do his little hop, skip, sidefoot routine and pass the ball to Alisson.

Going down to ten, missing a penalty, teeing up Mane for the second, Chelsea may feel like architects of their downfall. The fact is, even 11 v 11, they were trying to contain Liverpool more than challenge them. The best team won, and Chelsea treated them like the best team from the start. There is a long way to go before they stand toe to toe, and Chelsea know it.

Liverpool’s defence had a bit of Pep Guardiola about it, with Fabinho coming in to plug a gap left by injury at centre-half beside Virgil van Dijk. Guardiola, as everybody knows, would play 11 midfielders if he could, and thought nothing of deploying Javier Mascherano in central defence at Barcelona and then, more recently, Fernandinho at Manchester City.

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