London: Leaders Liverpool maintained their perfect start to the Premier League season as first-half goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino secured a 2-1 win at Chelsea on Sunday that left them five points clear at the summit.
It was a sixth straight league win from the start of the campaign for Juergen Klopp’s European champions and extended their club-record streak to 15 in total.
Chelsea, who put up a spirited fightback in the second half, pulled a goal back with a superb effort from N’Golo Kante but a second defeat of the season left them 10 points adrift in 11th.
Liverpool took the lead in the 14th minute when Alexander-Arnold rifled the ball into the top corner after Mohamed Salah backheeled a free kick into his path on the edge of the box.
Chelsea had been a clear second best in the early stages but were denied an equaliser by VAR after 26 minutes when Cesar Azpilicueta bundled the ball in only for replays to show that Mason Mount had strayed a fraction offside in the build-up.
Liverpool made the most of the reprieve as four minutes later Andy Robertson’s cross from the left was headed powerfully into the net by the unmarked Roberto Firmino.
Kante pulled one back in spectacular fashion, turning midfielder Fabinho, before attacking the heart of the visitors’ defence and curling the ball into the far corner, but Mount and substitute Michy Batshuayi missed late chances to equalise.
Liverpool began the match at a frenetic pace as the intensity of their pressing game kept Chelsea pegged firmly against the ropes, struggling to keep possession or build any momentum and it was not long until the pressure told.
Salah backheeled a free kick to Alexander-Arnold, who let fly with his right foot, drilling the ball past goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Despite being second best for much of the first half, Chelsea still had their moments.
Azpilicueta bundled the ball home after 26 minutes, but the home crowd’s raucous celebrations were swiftly curtailed when replays showed Mount was inches past the last defender.
Salt was then rubbed into the wound when Liverpool doubled their lead four minutes later.
Alexander-Arnold tapped a free kick on the left to Andy Robertson, whose cross was met by Firmino and he powered his header home from close range.
Liverpool should have added to their advantage early in the second half when Firmino was left unmarked at the far post but he scuffed his volley and the Brazilian’s effort was parried away by Arrizabalaga before Chelsea began to find their feet.
After Kante pulled a goal back with his solo effort, they looked the more likely to score again, but chances came and went.
Batshuayi headed wide after 88 minutes and Mount scooped a Marcos Alonso cross over the bar at the death to leave the home side rueing their missed opportunities....