Suarez faces lengthy ban for bite in dramatic draw
Published 21/04/2013 | 18:16
The spotlight was supposed to have been reserved for former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez on his first appearance back at Anfield but Reds striker Luis Suarez upstaged him with a bizarre biting incident and the latest of late equalisers.
Benitez was denied a victorious return to the scene of many of his former glories by player of the year candidate Suarez who ensured the focus was all on him - again.
It would not have been until, with Chelsea 2-1 up, he chose to sink his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic as the pair tangled in the penalty area.
Referee Kevin Friend missed the incident and despite the Chelsea defender's protests no action was taken but the FA have said they will investigate the incident tomorrow.
For such an odd incident Suarez has previous, having served a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax immediately prior to his move to Liverpool in January 2011.
The 26-year-old is no stranger to controversy, having been sent off for a goalline handball in a World Cup quarter-final, suspended for eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra and admitting to diving earlier this season.
It was even his handball which resulted in Chelsea's match-winning penalty and it seems inevitable the Football Association will be contacting him again.
His equalising goal with virtually the last kick of the game in the sixth and final minute of added time will probably be forgotten in the furore which is to follow.
In terms of the actual football Chelsea had looked like winning with a goal from Oscar and an Eden Hazard penalty either side of substitute Daniel Sturridge's close-range strike.
With Tottenham winning earlier in the day the draw was a blow to Chelsea's Champions League expectations as it dropped them to fourth, just a point ahead of their London rivals.
Benitez remains a hugely divisive figure and that was highlighted no better than with his stepping back out into Anfield for the first time nearly three years after leaving.
Supporters warmly welcomed the man viewed as a returning hero in these parts - the only ones not applauding were those from Chelsea whose objections to the Spaniard directly result from his red roots.
For all his supposed failings a glance back at Benitez's six-year spell at Anfield shows just how far the club have fallen - they are seventh - since then.
Having won a fifth European Cup in 2005 he added the FA Cup a year later before returning to the Champions League final in 2007 and he qualified for Europe's elite club competition every season except for his last - without doubt the most tumultuous and difficult of his time at the club.
His affinity with Liverpool supporters has only been strengthened by his support for the Hillsborough families and yesterday he visited the memorial for the 96 at Anfield and laid flowers and a single red rose for Anne Williams.
A minute's applause was held for the long-time justice campaigner, whose 15-year-old son Kevin who died in the disaster, after she passed away earlier this week just a couple of days after attending the 24th anniversary memorial service.
Chelsea's opening goal was courtesy of a near-post header by the Brazil international who managed to out-fox Daniel Agger and then beat Jamie Carragher to beat Jose Reina inside his left hand post.
Prior to that there has been little in the way of goal threat with Glen Johnson poking wide from Suarez's lay-off after the England full-back had begun the move with Jordan Henderson.
Ramires' drive was punched clear with two fists by Reina who, after the 26th-minute goal, almost embarrassed himself by fumbling David Luiz's long-range free-kick and only just managed to retrieve the ball before it crossed the line.
Liverpool's first shot came in the 40th minute when Suarez's effort was beaten away by Petr Cech, who dealt more comfortably with the Uruguay international's scuffed strike on the stroke of half-time.
Philippe Coutinho, who had looked increasingly tentative and timid, was replaced by Sturridge - bought from Chelsea in January - and he instantly changed the dynamic.
His first run put Steven Gerrard clean through - only for Cech to deflect the shot wide with his legs - and then he smashed a 25-yard effort against the post.
But the England striker did brilliantly to get his feet in the right position to convert an awkward chance from Suarez's far post cross in the 52nd minute.
Liverpool's bubble was burst pretty quickly, however, as when Suarez handled defending a Juan Mata corner Hazard stroked home from the spot.
They continued to press but the closest they came to puncturing a hole in Chelsea's defence, apart from Suarez's teeth, was when substitute Jonjo Shelvey fired into the side-netting.
However, Suarez produced another talking point by heading home Sturridge's cross with the clock showing 96 minutes and 34 seconds.