Liverool will have to be content with the Europa League next season after a frustrating 1-1 draw with Chelsea means it’s mathematically impossible for them to finish in the top-four this season.
In an at times entertaining but ultimately tiresome match that had all the hallmarks of a Mourinho side frustrating their more attacking inclined opponent, Liverpool were ultimately fruitless in their quest for a win at Stamford Bridge that would have at least extended their hopes of reaching the Champions League next season for another week.
But by dropping the three points, the Reds will certainly miss out and perhaps be forced into some uncomfortable reflection after a quite poor season in what was meant to be their rebirth as a top European club.
Before any action had yet to begin, Liverpool had the indignity of giving Chelsea a guard of honour out onto the Stamford Bridge turf, much to delight of the Blues crowd.
They might have been in part mode for the best part of a week since sealing that Premier League title but Chelsea showed the same kind of ruthlessness from the off that has seen them become Premier League champions for the fourth time this season.
Brendan Rodgers side could have been just as easily sat in the dressing room the amount of space they gave Chelsea in the box for their opening goal.
It’s not entirely clear just what Rickie Lambert was doing on the corner that led to the goal but he gave John Terry all the time and space with which to plant a header firmly into the bottom corner past a sprawling Mignolet.
Cesc Fabregas’ 18th assist of the season, now just two behind Thierry Henry’s record.
“Thursday night, Channel 5,” the chants reigned down from the stands as the Blues vivacious support reminded Liverpool just how far they had tumbled down the table this season.
Cesc Fabregas should arguably have been shown a 2nd yellow and sent off even before the 19th minute after a clear, obvious and cynical pull-back on Raheem Sterling. Inexplicably, Andre Mariner wasn’t interested and waved play on.
And of course, the next Liverpool tackle resulted in a yellow card, cue Twitter meltdown.
Chelsea were forced into an early substitution with Kurt Zouma coming after after just 34 minutes with a suspected knee injury. A shame for the youngster if it’s a serious one, after being awarded a deserved start in the Blues’ dead rubbers after impressive cameos throughout the season.
Chelsea looked relatively comfortable for the majority of the half but out of nowhere Liverpool equalised through Steven Gerrard just two minutes from the break.
Unmarked on a free kick – an entirely unneeded one that was won after Ivanovic mindlessly manhandled Philipe Coutinho to the absolute bemusement of everyone, including himself it seemed as he gave Andre Mariner a thumbs up – Gerrard peeled away from his marker and scored just his second goal against the Blues.
The half finished at 1-1.
Liverpool looked to regain the impetus from the off and a slick passing move saw Sterling run into the Chelsea box, wriggle free of Filipe Luis and get a pass off to the onrushing Coutinho.
Alas, his shot didn’t match the skill of move and it sailed wide of the post, when he should really be scoring.
Jose Mourinho, perhaps giving him the opportunity to be celebrated by the crowd and because he just wants to troll Liverpool’s attempts to get into the Champions League next season, brought on Nemanja Matic for the quietly impressive youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on his debut, with 30 minutes left to go and shut the game down.
As Liverpool continued to press, as they had to, Brendan Rodgers brought on Jordon Ibe, hoping for, more than expecting, some inspiration from the youngster to get his side their much desired win.
In the end, this had Mourinho’s fingerprints all over it and Liverpool and their fans will be tearing their hair out at the number of half chances they had compared to Chelsea, yet the Blues always seemed to have them at arms length and within reach. As they always do.
It ended 1-1 and was the death knell for Liverpool’s top four and Champins League hopes, at least for next season.