By Ian Ross of "Liverpool Daily Post"
The experience of Liverpool triumphed over the youth of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge yesterday.
Kenny Dalglish's men brushed aside the spirited challenge of the 10-man Londoners to move into today's FA Cup fifth round draw and finally bury a jinx which has haunted them for almost two decades.
Three times since their first-ever cup triumph back in 1965 the Anfield side have seen their dreams of Wembley shattered by Chelsea, but there was to be no mistake this time as a television audience running into millions was given another stark reminder that Dalglish is well on the way to building a Liverpool side fit to line-up alongside the greats of yesteryear.
The first half was littered with inviting openings for both sides but as the match wore on the Reds exerted their authority.
Bearing in mind the prize at stake it really wasn't too surprising that a high percentage of the early play was confined to an over-populated central area. With Mark Lawrenson again pushed forward and extra defender Jan Molby following his natural instinct to edge up field Liverpool found both comfort and constant possession in numbers.
While this potentially physical battle was mercifully devoid of overzealous assaults the flow of the game was constantly interrupted by the arrival of both trainers to attend players hurt not so much as a direct result of malice but rather of over-exuberance.
This was no better illustrated than in the sixth minute when Kerry Dixon was stretchered off the pitch and out of Chelsea's trophy hunt damaging his groin in a forlorn bid to reach one of Eddie Niedzwiecki's enormous clearances.
He was followed back to the dressing room some 35 minutes later by full back Colin Lee - a second hammer blow which left the Londoners facing the daunting prospect of halting Liverpool's march with 10 men.
While Liverpool's composure was as predictably reliable was ever Chelsea's two most inviting openings did come about as a direct result of sloppy defensive work. After 15 minutes Bruce Grobbelaar fumbled Jerry Murphy's inswinging corner and was rather fortunate to see Ronnie Whelan leap to the rescue with a timely clearance. Eight minutes later Lawrenson's attempted lob to his goalkeeper was very nearly punished by the alert Pat Nevin.
Tragically for Chelsea the break-through came two minutes into injury-time at the end of the first half. Lawrenson's shot across the face of goal was only half cleared by the severely rattled Keith Dublin. The ball struck Craig Johnston and fell for Rush who pushed wide to make an angle for himself before firing home from eight yards.
Outnumbered and forced to reshuffle at the back, Chelsea paid a high price for defensive laxity just two minutes after the re-start. Steve Nicol found Paul Walsh who in turn fed the onrushing Lawrenson, whose shot squirmed its way beneath the frame of Niedzwiecki. A match which was seemingly all over bar the shouting was dramatically transformed into a competition once again after 67 minutes when Chelsea struck back to grab an unlikely lifeline.
Nevin's free kick from the left was only partially cleared by the head of Gary Gillespie and David Speedie was on hand to hook the ball home over a stranded Liverpool rearguard.
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