Match ends, Liverpool 0, Chelsea 1.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson says they cannot "rely on the past" after Chelsea inflicted a fifth successive competitive home defeat on the reigning Premier League champions for the first time in their history to leave them battling to make the top four.
Mason Mount's superb individual strike three minutes before half-time gave the visitors a deserved win and extend their unbeaten run under boss Thomas Tuchel to 10 games.
It moved them into the top four, while Liverpool are now in seventh place and in a serious dogfight for the Champions League places.
The Reds, who won the title last season by 18 points, had gone 68 home league matches unbeaten before their current run started with a loss to Burnley in January.
"Last season is over with, it is done," Robertson told Sky Sports. "We have nowhere near been good enough to what a Liverpool team should be. We are dropping further and it is not good enough.
"Games are running out and we need to put the pressure on the teams below us. People will think we are down and out and we need to get the results to show them we are not. At the moment we are not doing that.
"We can't rely on the past."
Mount scored brilliantly when he cut inside to fire a low shot past Liverpool keeper Alisson, reward for a first half dominated by the Blues, who also had a Timo Werner effort ruled out for offside.
Liverpool, for whom a visibly angry Mohamed Salah was substituted just after the hour, barely threatened but were furious when penalty claims were rejected by the video assistant referee after Roberto Firmino's cross clearly struck N'Golo Kante's hand.
Alisson had to save well from the lively Werner, but one goal was enough to give Chelsea and Tuchel another fine victory as they move four points ahead of the Reds.
"You saw the game - it was a tight one, it was a close one, it was an intense one," Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told BBC Sport. "We forced them to make mistakes, they forced us to make mistakes. They used one, we didn't use ours.
"Against Chelsea, it would be surprising to play them off the pitch - but we were in the game. It is just annoying to talk about the same things again and again. It is tough. We have to fight through this."
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Tuchel's Anfield win tastes sweet
Tuchel's beaming smile and congratulations for his Chelsea players will have carried an added tinge of pleasure as he finally experienced victory at Anfield.
Tuchel has suffered last-minute losses at the stadium in a Europa League quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund and then in a subsequent Champions League game with Paris St-Germain.
He and Chelsea were not to be denied here, though, and while Liverpool will debate why they were not awarded that second-half penalty, no-one could seriously question the fact that the visitors were vastly superior to the beleaguered champions as they fall hard and fast from last season's status.
Tuchel has had a rejuvenating impact on Chelsea since succeeding the sacked Frank Lampard in January, and victories like this - albeit against a Liverpool team who appear to be a sitting duck at Anfield these days - will increase confidence and belief.
Mount deserved his goal for a performance of the highest quality, while Kante looked back to his best as he patrolled midfield.
Werner gave one of his finest displays since joining Chelsea and deserved a goal of his own, while Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger performed with such efficiency in defence that Liverpool did not have an effort on target until Georginio Wijnaldum's tame 84th-minute header.
All in all, it was an excellent night's work for Tuchel and Chelsea.
"I am very, very happy with the performance," said Tuchel. "It was clear we needed a complete performance in all aspects of the game. We did this, we were very brave with the ball and never lost intensity with the ball.
"We were always aggressive and very brave. This was the key. It was a top team performance and a deserved win.
"Both teams started in a high level of speed and intensity. We knew that. We told the team we don't want to give too much information. When you arrive in a match like this you cannot overthink it.
"We managed all situations very, very good. Very, very encouraging."
Liverpool and Klopp plunge further into crisis
The statistics surrounding Liverpool's slump are stacking around them like rubble as they suffered another defeat in this truly desperate Premier League title defence.
Jurgen Klopp's side have created unwanted history with those five defeats, they have not scored from open play in more than 10 hours at Anfield - a shocking run emphasised by the fact they only lost four matches here in the first five years and three months of the German's tenure.
Nothing summed up their current condition better than the sight of the clearly infuriated and mystified Salah reacting in very discontented fashion after his substitution in the 62nd minute.
Liverpool will plead their case for that penalty but this cannot disguise yet another stale, limp Anfield display in the arena where they carried such a fear factor for years.
It has disappeared, as Burnley - who ended that 68-match unbeaten home league run - Brighton, Manchester City, Everton and now Chelsea have proved.
Liverpool face a serious fight to finish in the top four, with neighbours Everton three points ahead of the champions in fifth with a game in hand.
These are statements that would have been barely believable at the start of the season, but this is Liverpool's brutal new reality.
Liverpool's unwanted history - the best of the stats
- Liverpool have become the first English top-flight reigning champions to lose five consecutive home league games.
- Since Tuchel took charge of his first league game as Chelsea boss on 27 January, only Manchester City (24) have picked up more points than the Blues during his eight games as manager (18). Tuchel's predecessor Lampard took seven points from his final eight games in charge.
- Liverpool have just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021 - only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) have picked up fewer points since the turn of the year.
- Chelsea's Edouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts (55%). Of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in more than half.
- Mount has scored 12 and assisted eight goals in the Premier League for Chelsea. At 22 years and 53 days, he is the second-youngest player to reach 20 goals and assists for the club in the competition after their former winger Arjen Robben (21 years 337 days).
- Liverpool's Salah was substituted in the 62nd minute - the only time he was been taken off earlier in a Premier League game at Anfield was for Chelsea against the Reds in April 2014 (60th minute).
Liverpool are at home again on Sunday, with struggling Fulham the visitors for a 14:00 GMT kick-off. Chelsea are in action the next day, with another top-four challenger, Everton, the visitors to Stamford Bridge at 18:00.
- 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forMilnerat 80'minutes
- 17JonesSubstituted forJotaat 62'minutes
- 11SalahSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 62'minutes
- 46R Williams
- 76N Williams
- 22ZiyechSubstituted forPulisicat 66'minutes
- 19MountSubstituted forKovacicat 81'minutes
- 11WernerSubstituted forHavertzat 90+1'minutes
- Martin Atkinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Chelsea 1.
Substitution, Chelsea. Kai Havertz replaces Timo Werner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Andreas Christensen.
Sadio Mané (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea).
Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sadio Mané (Liverpool).
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.
Substitution, Chelsea. Mateo Kovacic replaces Mason Mount.
Substitution, Liverpool. James Milner replaces Thiago.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Alisson.
Attempt saved. Timo Werner (Chelsea) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mason Mount.
Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).
Jorginho (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jorginho.
Sadio Mané (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
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