Alleged Suarez bite overshadows late equaliser against Chelsea
Uruguayan sublime in setting up Sturridge and scoring late equaliser, but apparent bite will court controversy once more
Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea talks with Luis Suarez after the Liverpoolstriker appeared to bite the defender. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (left) shows his arm to referee Kevin Friend after an incident with Liverpool's Luis Suarez at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2: Luis Suárez salvaged a point for Liverpool in the 97th minute of Rafael Benitez's return to Anfield to leave Chelsea seething and fourth in the Premier League table. It may well prove Suárez's final act of the season after he again showed his appetite for controversy by sinking his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic.
The Liverpool striker, supposedly a favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award according to his manager, Brendan Rodgers, bit the Chelsea defender on the bicep as the pair challenged for the ball in front of the Kop on 66 minutes. Suárez left Dutch football in disgrace after receiving a seven-match ban for biting Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax against PSV Eindhoven in November 2010.
Another lengthy suspension surely awaits the Uruguay international who, almost inevitably when he should have been off the pitch, headed Daniel Sturridge's cross beyond Petr Cech with the final touch of a fractious game to dent Chelsea's hopes of reclaiming third spot.
Benítez was not the only subject of an Anfield tribute. Anne Williams, the inspirational Hillsborough campaigner who died on Thursday, three days after defying doctor's orders to attend the 24th memorial service, and the victims of the Boston marathon bombing were honoured with a minute's ovation before kick off. 'RIP Anne You'll Never Walk Alone' read the banner along the front of the Kop.
Amid the shows of respect were predictable Kop jeers for Fernando Torres whenever the former Liverpool striker touched the ball or left his mark on their central defence. Daniel Agger landed awkwardly after a nudge from the Chelsea forward in the second minute, and was fortunate his left knee did not buckle, while Jamie Carragher received a flailing arm in the face when challenging for a high ball. Torres received a yellow card and, later on, a little retribution on the back of his calf.
Liverpool, despite a promising start, appeared preoccupied with the Benítez sideshow in the first half and their distribution, movement and solidity paled in comparison with that from Chelsea. The midfield contest was not worthy of the name as Ramires and Mikel John Obi intercepted and protected relentlessly while Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard bypassed Liverpool with ease. Carelessness in possession, with Jordan Henderson a frequent culprit, increased Anfield's irritation.
It was a surprise Chelsea led by only one set-piece goal by the interval. Oscar sent a glancing header beyond Pepe Reina's left hand from Mata's corner having escaped the attentions of both Agger, his initial marker, and Carragher, the defender covering the edge of the six-yard box. Reina almost compounded Liverpool's defensive brittleness when he dropped a David Luiz free-kick behind him, only to gather in front of the line.
Liverpool threatened only sporadically, Suárez forcing a routine save from Cech at the near post, and it was only after Sturridge replaced the anonymous Philippe Coutinho at the interval that Rodgers' team hauled themselves back into contention.
Sturridge was a man on a mission, creating a glorious chance for Steven Gerrard seconds after his introduction that Cech saved with his leg and then hitting the post with a venomous drive moments later. His inevitable goal arrived seven minutes after his introduction when he volleyed home from close range following a flowing Liverpool move involving Carragher, Stewart Downing and finally a wonderful chip over the Chelsea defence from Suárez.
The Uruguay international's afternoon, however, soon nose-dived. Three minutes later Suárez handled Mata's corner and denied Torres a header at the back post. The referee, Kevin Friend, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Hazard sent Reina the wrong way following a lengthy delay due to the usual arguments.
For reasons known only to himself Suárez then sank his teeth into Ivanovic as the pair tussled in front of the Kop. He may have then scored the last-gasp equaliser, but another stain on the Liverpool striker's character and a lengthy ban will surely follow.