Souness: Lukaku should apologise

Leesider deputised for Alisson at Stamford Bridge and made some fine saves in 2-2 draw with Chelsea
Souness: Lukaku should apologise

Kai Havertz of Chelsea battles for possession with Virgil van Dijk and Caoimhin Kelleher of Liverpool. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

CAOIMHÍN Kelleher played his part in a potentially season-defining 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Liverpool on Sunday at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

The Cork-man was drafted in to replace Alisson, who is one of three Liverpool players who tested positive for Covid in the build-up to the clash of two of the challengers to leaders Man City.

This was Kelleher’s fourth appearance of the season for the Reds, and it followed impressive showings in the Carabao Cup and against Watford in the Premier League last October.

This primed the goalkeeper for a massive Premier League fixture which was to decide Liverpool and Chelsea’s title ambitions. Both teams arrived at Stamford Bridge knowing they needed the three points if they were to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table.

The pressure did nothing to deter Kelleher, as he denied Christian Pulisic from close range inside the opening 10 minutes. 

This happened after Mason Mount picked the ball from Trent Alexander Arnold and he squared to the American, who was straight in front of goal. Just as he took a touch, Kelleher leaped down and poked the ball free, which saved Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s side broke up the pitch following this and a mistake in the Chelsea backline gave Sadio Mané enough space to score. Liverpool doubled this lead midway through the half with an excellent shot from Mohammad Salah which sneaked in at the near post.

CLASSIC

Kelleher was next called to action when a free-kick from Marcos Alonso sailed towards the top corner. Unfortunately, his acrobatic save was in vain as Kovačić volleyed the clearance in from outside the box. Chelsea made it 2-2 just before the break after Pulisic’s chested the ball down and launched it into the roof of the net.

The second half saw Kelleher’s outfield abilities take centre stage, as he sprayed passes to Liverpool’s back four. These were done to beat Chelsea’s high press, and each one was delivered with expert precision to the defence.

The save of the game happened with half an hour remaining. Pulisic tried a shot from distance and Kelleher made a reflex save to divert the ball away from goal. He was later needed to stop a furious volley which was hit by Mount after a free-kick was blocked by the Liverpool defence.

The game fizzled out with neither team able to get the winner. This means that Manchester City remain 10 points clear.

Liverpool players including Cork's Caoimhín Kelleher after the draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Liverpool players including Cork's Caoimhín Kelleher after the draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Kelleher’s next game in a Liverpool jersey will be on Thursday evening when they face Arsenal in the first round of the Carabao Cup semi-finals. The former Ringmahon Ranger will have good memories of facing the Gunners in the Football League Cup, as he saved a penalty to beat them two years ago edition of the competition.

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