Liverpool 2 Torres (89, 90) Chelsea 0
FERNANDO Torres scored his first goals since October to put Liverpool's title pursuit back on track. Rafael Benitez's side still trail Manchester United by two points having played a game more, but remain in the hunt after eventually overcoming stubborn Chelsea resistance.
Chelsea had Frank Lampard controversially sent off in the second half and from then on Liverpool pounded away in search of the winner. Torres eventually struck with a near-post header and a simple tap-in in the final minutes.
Striker Robbie Keane, not included in the Liverpool squad, was all smiles going into the home dressing room, and sat in the directors' box later.
Benitez said after the game: "I think Robbie Keane will be here when the transfer window shuts. He was left out because we were considering all our good players and who we needed for this game. It was only a decision based on this match and our requirements.
"I have not seen any new offers, I don't know whether the club have had any offers."
But suggestions that the 20million signing is on his way out of the club cannot be discounted. Co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks sat well apart in the front row of the directors' box, and the pair will be re-opening talks with Benitez over his new contract and attending a board meeting together today.
On the pitch the game started in swirling snow, with Steven Gerrard surging around midfield as Liverpool took the game to Chelsea.
An evenly contested match turned on the hour when Lampard was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Xabi Alonso. He connected with the ball, but also the Spaniard's ankle, and referee Riley reacted instantly. John Terry was booked for protesting and Chelsea will rightly point out that Steven Gerrard was only warned for a similar tackle a few minutes earlier.
Alex then deflected an Alonso drive onto the bar as Liverpool sought to claim the advantage, with Gerrard booked for diving soon after.
With two minutes left, Liverpool grabbed the lead with Torres' first goal in front of the Kop this season. He arrowed a near-post header past Petr Cech from a cross from Fabio Aurelio.
In injury-time Benayoun got away in the box after Ashley Cole failed to control and Torres fired home from eight yards with Cech stranded.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari hopes Lampard's red card will be overturned. "I do not want to criticise the referee, all I ask is that he looks at the video with the men from the FA," said Scolari. "If they agree that Lampard did not commit a foul, maybe they will change the decision."