Brendan Rodgers gets Liverpool to close the gap on Chelsea

Liverpool were close to beating Chelsea in this semi-final but Emre Can was still stretched to the limit in defence
• Match report: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
• Paul Wilson: winning mentality provides Chelsea platform
• As it happened: read Barry Glendenning’s MBM report

To become a genuine rival and ex-friend of José Mourinho, as Brendan Rodgers admits his job necessitates, Liverpool must trouble Chelsea as often as they did when Rafael Benítez was ensconced at Anfield and the last man Roman Abramovich would employ. This Capital One Cup semi-final brought that separation closer.

It is now six games without a win and counting for the Liverpool manager against Chelsea, including four against the man who appointed him youth team coach at Stamford Bridge in 2004, but that irritating statistic will not overshadow the evidence of his team’s development in this finely poised first leg. The wait would have been over for Rodgers but for Thibaut Courtois’ performance at Anfield. His confidence that Liverpool can win next Tuesday’s second leg was not a psychological ploy but based on a display that yielded 20 shots to Chelsea’s two and demonstrated the extent of his team’s recovery since losing 2-1 to Mourinho’s team, at Anfield, in the Premier League in November.

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