A passionate, tense and entertaining match at Stamford Bridge saw Chelsea fight back brilliantly from two goals down to draw with Liverpool, but weren't quite able to find the winner our title challenge could have done with.

Thomas Tuchel and his players will feel like they deserved more than a point from the game as second met third in the Premier League, but after going two behind in the first half have every reason to be pleased with the way they came back and earned a result which keeps us second in the Premier League table, one point ahead of our opponents.

Despite a promising start, it didn't seem as though Chelsea would be coming away from the game with anything at one point, after Sadio Mane capitalised on Trevoh Chalobah misjudging the flight of the ball to round Edouard Mendy and put Liverpool ahead, before Mohamed Salah extended their advantage by firing past Mendy from close range at the near post.

However, an incredible four minutes just before the break brought the game to life and the Blues back into contention. Mateo Kovacic brought down the house with a blockbuster of a goal to pull one back, looping a volley towards the top corner and in off the post from outside the box - scoring the 100th Chelsea goal under Tuchel in the process - and shortly afterwards we were level thanks to Christian Pulisic's composed finish at the end of a rapid counter-attack involving Antonio Rudiger and N'Golo Kante.

That set up a tense second half that, on the day safe standing was introduced for supporters at Stamford Bridge, had those sitting in the stadium on the edge of their seats. Despite both goalkeepers being forced to make good saves, with Pulisic going closest for Chelsea with a close-range volley from Kai Havertz's cross, neither team could find a winner to significantly close the gap on Manchester City in the title race.

The selection

Thomas Tuchel has made five changes to his side, with Reece James and Andreas Christensen both out with the injuries they suffered against Brighton and Romelu Lukaku left out of the squad.

In a reshuffle in defence and the wide areas, Thiago Silva returned in the back three after missing the game against Brighton through his own injury, while Trevoh Chalobah was also back in the side. Antonio Rudiger completed the defensive trio, with captain Cesar Azpilicueta moving forward into a wing-back role. Marcos Alonso came into the side on the left and N’Golo Kante returned from the start to partner Mateo Kovacic in midfield.

Kai Havertz made his first start since the Premier League win over Leeds on 11 December, joining Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount in the front three, while Edouard Mendy continued in goal for the last time before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Liverpool made three changes to the team that lost at Leicester last time out, partly due to Alisson, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino joining manager Jurgen Klopp in testing positive for Covid-19, meaning young goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher made his second Premier League appearance of the season.

Fierce start

The game got off to a competitive start, as shown when Sadio Mane was shown a yellow card for an elbow on Cesar Azpilicueta in the opening 10 seconds of the match. The Liverpool forward could even count himself a little lucky not to have received a more serious punishment, as replays showed him catching our skipper heavily in the face with a swinging elbow.

Thankfully, things calmed down a little bit afterwards, and it was Chelsea who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, keeping possession and finding space out wide, with Marcos Alonso in particular getting into some threatening positions on the left.

It seemed that the early pressure might be getting to some of the defenders, as both teams had good chances to open the scoring in quick succession early on. First a wayward header by Trevoh Chalobah allowed Mane to get goal-side of Thiago Silva, but a combination of a full-stretch intervention to get a toe on the ball by Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy’s save stopped Mohamed Salah getting on the end of the pass across goal.

At the other end, Kai Havertz closed down a hesitant Trent Alexander-Arnold’s clearance, with the ball breaking to Christian Pulisic in the box, but when the American tried to take it around Caoimhin Kelleher, the young goalkeeper did well to get a hand on it.

The early action wasn’t done yet, though, but unfortunately it was Liverpool who took advantage of an error to take the lead. Chalobah got caught in two minds and tried to head a low cross clear on the edge of our box when he might have been better using his feet. He couldn’t get a clean connection, allowing Mane, who was lucky to still be on the pitch, to take a touch around Mendy and fire a powerful shot past Azpilicueta on the line.

The Chelsea players and fans made their feelings about Mane’s involvement clear to referee Anthony Taylor, and the frustrations were clear again when Pulisic was booked for a sliding tackle despite winning the ball.

Punished on the break

We tried to respond straightaway, as despite going behind we remained seemingly in control of the game, as Mason Mount had a low drive blocked by Virgil Van Dijk after being found at the near post by Azpilicueta, and then Alonso fired a spectacular volley wide after another cross by his fellow Spaniard dropped for him beyond the back post.

Mendy did well to save from Salah one-on-one, although the Liverpool forward was offside anyway, showing we needed to be wary of our opponents’ threat on the break, especially the pace of Salah and Mane. That warning wasn’t heeded, though, and that threat soon produced a second Liverpool goal when Salah was left in too much space down Liverpool’s right flank, having too much speed for Alonso to catch and then finding the angle to score past Mendy at his near post from close range.

That second goal, plus a lengthy pause for a VAR check on an off-the-ball incident involving Mount and Konstantinos Tsimikas which came to nothing, seemed to unsettle the Chelsea players, resulting in Liverpool getting their first prolonged spell controlling possession in the match, to go with the better chances they had created so far.

Quickfire double

It felt like the match needed a big moment from Chelsea to spark things into life and get us back into contention before half-time, and boy did the Blues provide it. Chalobah made a brilliant tackle to dispossess Salah as a third goal for the Reds looked like a possibility, and soon afterwards Kovacic pulled a goal back with a brilliant effort.

It started with a threatening run down the right by Havertz, which was unceremoniously ended by an obvious foul from James Milner. Alonso drilled the resulting free-kick towards the near post and, when Kelleher punched clear to edge of the box, Kovacic volleyed a looping effort that evaded the goalkeeper and went in off the far post.

That instantly changed the mood inside Stamford Bridge as the home fans sensed a chance to take the advantage again, and the Chelsea players didn’t seem to need much encouragement. Rudiger did well to win the ball and set a rapid counter-attack in motion, as his clearance was flicked on by Kante to release Pulisic in behind, and our No10 took his time calmly to let the bouncing ball settle before sending a left-footed shot high past Kelleher.

Two goals in four minutes had turned the game completely on its head just as it seemed to be slipping away from the Blues. The Bridge was well and truly bouncing in the final few minutes before half-time and things nearly got even better before the break, as another fast break saw Alonso switch the ball across to Havertz and when his shot was charged down, Mount’s awkward volley bounced agonisingly wide with the keeper beaten.

When the teams came back out for the second half the pace of the game dropped slightly, although it could hardly have got much more frantic than the first had ended, even if the intensity remained. Liverpool restarted the stronger, with Mane firing wide after getting free of Chalobah, although the linesman’s flag went up for offside.

We were next to threaten as a brilliant jinking run past two players and a perfectly weighted through-ball by Kante released Alonso, but when the Spaniard cut inside in the box he couldn’t keep his right-footed shot down. It was an evenly matched game at this point and the pressure was only increasing the longer the scores remained level.

The Blues had Mendy to thank for keeping it that way as the goalkeeper produced three excellent saves in quick succession as the Liverpool front three started to find space to threaten, the pick of the bunch coming as a clearance from a Chelsea corner somehow squirmed its way through to Salah 35 yards out. He tried to take advantage of Mendy’s position off his line with an early lofted shot, but somehow the Senegalese got back and recovered to tip the ball around the post at full stretch.

Tension rising

There was an increasingly strong feeling that the next goal could be decisive in this game as we entered the last half-an-hour and Tuchel urged the Chelsea supporters to roar on the team, before we went the closest yet to taking the lead when Havertz’s low cross found Pulisic six yards out, but his close-range volley was saved well by Kelleher.

There was a flurry of activity from the two benches, which from Chelsea’s side was caused by an injury to Chalobah. That prompted a change of system as Jorginho was introduced to make it a three-man midfield, with Havertz and Mount operating as a front two as Pulisic moved to wing-back and Azpilicueta slotted into the back three.

It nearly produced an instant result as well, when our most comfortable spell in possession for some time ended with Pulisic cutting in from his new position on the right and curling a shot just over from the edge of the box.

Hudson-Odoi was then introduced to add a bit more pace to the attack, in place of Havertz, and as the game entered its last 10 minutes it was still finely balanced, although the Blues were just about edging things when Pulisic, Kovacic and Hudson-Odoi were all brought down rather cynically to prevent dangerous looking attacks, before Mount forced a low save from Kelleher with a half-volley from outside the area on the rebound of his own free-kick.

We were increasingly looking like the more likely of the sides to find a late winner and for a second it looked as though Rudiger might be the one to find it, as he rose highest to meet a Mount corner, but the German’s header bounced just wide of the back post.

As we kept up the pressure in the closing stages the atmosphere inside the Bridge grew ever louder as the home fans urged the Blues on in search of what would be a massive goal for our whole season, let alone this thrilling game.

Despite that backing there was no more drama to come this day, with both sides having to settle for a high-quality and entertaining draw which probably favours Manchester City more than either of the teams involved in the context of the Premier League title race.

What's next?

Attention switches to the domestic cup competitions for the Blues now, as we host Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of our Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening, before beginning our 2021/22 FA Cup campaign at Stamford Bridge when we take on Chesterfield in the third round late on Saturday afternoon.

Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Chalobah (Jorginho 70), Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (c), Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz (Hudson-Odoi 79), PulisicUnused subs: Kepa, Sarr, Hall, Saul, Barkley, Vale, ZiyechScorer: Kovacic 43, Pulisic 46Booked: Pulisic 17

Liverpool (4-3-3): Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Milner (Keita 69), Henderson (c), Fabinho; Salah, Jota (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69), Mane (Jones 90)Unused subs: Adrian, Pitaluga, Beck, Williams, Gomez, MortonScorers: Mane 9, Salah 26Booked: Mane 1, Konate 83

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 40,072