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Cesar Azpilicueta hails 10-man Chelsea’s team spirit after draw with Liverpool

Cesar Azpilicueta hails 10-man Chelsea’s team spirit after draw with Liverpool
Anfield hosted an intense clash between two of the Premier League title favourites on Saturday evening.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta was delighted by the togetherness and spirit shown in adversity as Thomas Tuchel’s men secured a 1-1 draw at Liverpool

Anfield hosted an intense clash between two of the Premier League title favourites on Saturday evening, with the visitors opening the scoring as Kai Havertz sent home a looping header in front of the Kop.

Chelsea could have added another before the dynamics changed at the end of the first half, when referee Anthony Taylor sent off Reece James for handling an attempt on the line after reviewing the pitchside monitor.

Mohamed Salah scored the resulting spot-kick but the Blues put in a defensive masterclass to secure a draw despite playing 45 minutes a man light.

“We had to fight,” Azpilicueta told the club website. “When you are one man down for the whole second half, it is really tough but it was a challenge for us.

“Everybody had the ambition to go even for a win and we actually had the best two chances in the second half even though they had a lot of possession.

“The team spirit was brilliant from everybody, we fought together and we got the least reward of a point.”

Chelsea let their anger known at the decision to send off James before and after Salah scored from the spot, but they managed to channel it effectively.

“Of course we were angry and everyone had emotions at half-time but we had to adapt,” the Spain defender said. “It was important for us to calm down and find a way to fight together as a team, to have this challenge in a tough place like Anfield.

“Everybody defended really well, right from Romelu (Lukaku), who had a game where he had to sacrifice for the team.

“We had to make two changes at half-time and had one red card but we adapted really well to the situation.”

Mateo Kovacic replaced injured star N’Golo Kante at the break and wily defender Thiago Silva’s introduction proved inspired as he helped shore things up.

It was an impressive, well-drilled performance given Tuchel’s men are still a work in progress but Azpilicueta is not getting ahead of himself.

“We are a team that has had a few changes so everybody is pushing hard,” he said after making his 300th Premier League appearance.

“We want to compete and we want to improve every day as a team so we just have to keep working.

“It is still only the end of August and we’ve played only three games so let’s go step by step. We have conceded only one goal in the three games so let’s keep working and focusing on ourselves.”

As for Liverpool, there was an air of frustration after they failed to turn their man advantage and increased second-half pressure into a second-half winner.

“It just wasn’t our day,” 18-year-old Harvey Elliott told the club website. “We tried what we could, gave it 100 per cent and unfortunately we came away with the draw.

“I think the mood in the changing room is a bit down because obviously we wanted to come away with the win against 10 menn.

“Chelsea obviously are a top-class side, they fought until the very end and were hard to break down, so you’ve got to give them credit.

“It wasn’t really our day. We’ll reflect and go again against Leeds.”

Saturday’s match was a big occasion for the teenager, who repaid manager Jurgen Klopp’s faith in him with a promising performance.

Harvey Elliott impressed against Chelsea (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I just take every opportunity in my stride,” Elliott added.

"Åpenbart 10 minutes against Norwich, then my first start against Burnley, så (Jeg er) just taking it bit by bit, just grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given.

“I’m just thankful for the coaching staff and for the team for believing in me and giving me these opportunities.

“When you’re on the pitch you’ve just got to focus, you’ve just got to give it 100 per cent and you focus on the excitement after.

“It’s every boy’s dream to play in front of this crowd at Anfield and to put on this red strip. I just want to give 100 per cent to the club, I just want to play for the club and just run my socks off until I can’t run any more, to be honest.”