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Football | Barclays Premier League

Liverpool ends Blues fourth spot hopes



Liverpool scored three times in nine first-half minutes to avenge Saturday's FA Cup final defeat by Chelsea as they beat the Champions League finalists 4-1 at Anfield on Tuesday.

Michael Essien's own-goal and goals from Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger and Jonjo Shelvey ensured Fernando Torres endured a nightmare return to his former club since leaving for £50 million ($81 million) in January 2011.

The defeat means Chelsea must beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on May 19 if they are to secure a place in the competition next season as they can now no longer finish fourth in the Premier League.

Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo made wholesale changes to his side, but the Italian will be concerned the FA Cup winners have now won just one of their last five league games.

Rarely have Liverpool looked forward to the end of the season so much after enduring a campaign where a League Cup final win has failed to mask their mediocre league form.

They lost their last two games at Anfield while their fans had been starved of a home league win since March 13 and even this victory left the Reds, managed by Anfield great Kenny Dalglish, in a relatively lowly eighth place.

Chelsea went into the game having secured more away points (25) than Liverpool had managed at home (24).

But di Matteo's decision to rest his key players ahead of the Champions League final back-fired spectacularly.

Chelsea made eight changes to the side that started the 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool at Wembley.

Liverpool, who were without skipper Steven Gerrard, were clearly desperate to put right the wrongs from a disappointing performance at the weekend.

And they never looked back after Essien turned the ball into his own net in the 19th minute while trying to clear from Luis Suarez.

Two minutes earlier Branislav Ivanovic rattled the woodwork after a corner from six-yards when the unmarked Chelsea defender should have done better.

Chelsea captain John Terry then slipped to pave the way for Henderson to double Liverpool's lead in the 25th minute, the former Sunderland player producing a delightful finish past keeper Ross Turnbull.

And Agger made it 3-0 in the 28th minute when the Dane nodded home after clever work by Andy Carroll.

Former Liverpool striker Torres, who had managed just seven goals in his previous 44 Premier League appearances for the Londoners, was denied by the woodwork before halftime with an angled shot.

Liverpool's Stewart Downing, yet to score a league goal since joining from Aston Villa in pre-season, then twice hit the woodwork himself before the break.

Having struck the bar with a dipping 25-yard attempt, the winger then hit a post from the penalty spot after Ivanovic had fouled Carroll in the dying moments of a thrilling first half.

Chelsea did reduce their deficit in the 50th minute.

Ramires scored against the Reds at Wembley and the Brazilian was at it again as Florent Malouda's free-kick hit his midriff before trickling into the net.

But Chelsea's revival was short-lived thanks to Turnbull.

The keeper's attempted clearance landed at the feet of Shelvey, who rifled a first-time effort from 30-yards into the net in front of the Kop to make it 4-1 in the 61st minute.

There was time for Liverpool to bring on 17-year-old Raheem Sterling while Maxi Rodriguez appeared to wave goodbye to fans when he was substituted in the closing stages.

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