Raheem Sterling’s second-half strike means Liverpool go into their Capital One Cup semi-final second-leg at Chelsea with the scores level at 1-1, despite a dominant performance at Anfield.
Chelsea took the lead 18 minutes in when Emre Can brought down Eden Hazard in the area, with the Belgian slotting the subsequent spot-kick past compatriot Simon Mignolet.
Sterling then equalised just before the hour with a superb run and finish, beating Thibaut Cortois from just inside the box after turning Nemanja Matic.
Liverpool had various chances to win the match, with captain Steven Gerrard hitting the post 20 minutes before the end, but the home side couldn’t find the winner to take to Stamford Bridge next week.
Nevertheless, there were various positives to take from the match, not least the performance of Lucas Leiva, who looks to have gone from an afterthought to one of the side’s most crucial components in the space of a few months.
The Brazilian midfielder was on the fringes of the first-team at the start of the season but, after breaking back into the line-up in November, it’s no coincidence that his return has coincided with the club’s recent upturn in form.
That fact was underlined in the Chelsea clash, where his commanding presence in front of the back four proved crucial to stifling the visitors’ attacks, just as has proved the case against other recent opponents.
Reports from the likes of ESPN FC this month have linked him with a move to Inter Milan but, with no other Liverpool midfielder able to do his job to the same standard, it seems paramount that manager Brendan Rodgers keeps him at the club moving forward.
Most fans appear to agree with that sentiment, and numerous took to Twitter after the final whistle to hail his performance and anoint him the man of the match.
Not only should Lucas Leiva not be sold this month, the lad should be given a contract extension. Outstanding once again #LFC— Mass (@lfcman1892) January 20, 2015
LFC (@Pat_Money_8) January 20, 2015
Surely there isn’t a hope that Rodgers will sell Lucas?? Look at our form since he’s come back into the side. #LFC— G F (@TheFlynnFella) January 20, 2015
Just back from the game. First thought: I always like a player who overcomes a tough start/times. Lucas has now done it twice. #lfc— Dave Phillips (@lovefutebol) January 20, 2015
Lucas was immense tonight! He's getting that form back in that position that made him our midfield destroyer before that knee injury! #LFC— James Andrews (@ScouseBoyJim) January 20, 2015
Lucas leiva had fabregas in his pocket but watch none of the pundits talk about him as he isn't matic. #LFC— Hassan31Sterling (@Hassan09YNWA) January 20, 2015
Thought yet again Lucas was quality in front of the back 3 #LFC— lee talman (@leetal33) January 20, 2015
Plenty of our players played well tonight. Coutinho, Henderson, Moreno. But my motm was Lucas. He was exceptional. Brendan, sign him up #LFC— Jay Graham (@jaygrahamuk) January 20, 2015
Lucas was absolutely immense and he deserves credit. He's definitely our most important player and I just can't imagine us without him. #LFC— Anfield Bond (@AnfieldBond) January 20, 2015