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Reds revenge win ends Chelsea hopes
Liverpool exacted a measure of revenge for their FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea with a comprehensive 4-1 victory at Anfield that ends the Blues' hopes of a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
An own goal from Michael Essien plus futher strikes from Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger and Jonjo Shelvey gave Liverpool a victory which could have been even greater as Stewart Downing also missed a first-half penalty having previously struck the crossbar.
A much-changed Chelsea, who won 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday, also hit the woodwork through Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres in the first half before Ramires netted just after half-time, but they were well beaten and now need to win the Champions League final to get back into that competition next season.
Luis Suarez's nutmeg on John Terry served as an early warning, the Uruguay international dragging a shot wide, while Andy Carroll's decision to opt for placement rather than power saw his shot drop over the crossbar.
Liverpool enjoyed a let-off in the 17th minute when Ivanovic planted a free header against the post but in an eight-minute spell the hosts virtually put the game out of sight with three goals almost from nowhere.
First Suarez produced a brilliant run from wide on the right to get to the byline and his cut-back was turned in by Essien. A slip from Terry put Henderson through on goal to curl a low shot past Ross Turnbull and then Carroll headed down a corner for Agger to nod in from close range.
Downing's 30-yard dipping volley struck the crossbar before he drilled a penalty against a post after Ivanovic had been punished for knocking over Carroll.
Chelsea briefly got themselves back in the game five minutes after the break when Florent Malouda's inswinging free-kick was turned in by Ramires.
But the hosts did not back down and, if anything upped the pressure, which led to their fourth. An out-of-position Turnbull mis-kicked straight into the path of Shelvey 30 yards out and he drilled a shot into an empty net.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo had virtually accepted his side could not qualify for the Champions League with a top-four place by naming an understrength team, with his sights now set on the Champions League final.