Liverpool blinked first in the title race as they failed to regain top spot from Manchester City after being held to a goalless draw in the 233rd Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
A rare off day for Mohamed Salah, who wasted the visitors’ best two chances, coincided with an Everton performance of effort and energy.
Here are our ratings:
Jordan Pickford: Stood up well to deny Mo Salah what seemed a certain goal in the first half and otherwise had little to do. 6/10 (out of 10)
Seamus Coleman: Produced a fine block to keep out a Jordan Henderson follow-up shot in a typically whole-hearted display. 6
Kurt Zouma: Got through a lot of work in the centre of defence, reading play well to keep Liverpool at bay. 7
Michael Keane: Touch occasionally let him down but generally showed excellent judgement, notably with a fine take to prevent Salah shooting. 7
Lucas Digne: Unable to pose any attacking threat but defended very well, particularly under the high ball. 7
Idrissa Gana Gueye: Kept the hosts ticking in midfield but was unable to give them forward impetus. 6
Morgan Schneiderlin: Gave Everton some bite in midfield although he was caught napping as Liverpool created their best chance of the game. 6
Theo Walcott: Looked lively and ready for the challenge but fired well wide from his only serious opportunity. 6
Bernard: Was quick to close down opponents but found he was denied the space he needs to operate himself. 6
Gylfi Sigurdsson: Was well marshalled by Liverpool and unable to influence proceedings. 6
Dominic Calvert-Lewin: Got no change from Virgil Van Dijk as he found himself having to rely on long balls. 5
Richarlison (for Walcott, 59): Gave Everton more punch as they asked questions of the Liverpool defence in the closing stages. 7
Cenk Tosun (for Calvert-Lewin, 74): Freshened up the Everton front line but Van Dijk dealt with him well. 6
Andre Gomes (for Schneiderlin, 76): Looked cool in possession as Everton probed late on. 6
Alisson Becker: Was untroubled in terms of attempts on goal but did have the occasional nervy moment when playing out with his feet. 6
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Liverpool tried to utilise his expert delivery from the right as often as possible but he could not quite find his range. 6
Virgil Van Dijk: Showed his usual composure and quality at the back, denying Everton any serious openings. 8
Joel Matip: Defended strongly and had the confidence to bring the ball forward regularly. 7
Andrew Robertson: Not the rampaging threat he can be on the left. 6
Jordan Henderson: Was positive in everything he did and demanded plenty of possession but not all his touches came off and he spurned a good chance. 6
Fabinho: Given too much space by Everton at times but Liverpool were unable to make the most of his presence. 6
Georginio Wijnaldum: Often bypassed in a frenetic midfield battle. 6
Mohamed Salah: Twice got into dangerous positions but could not find the killer touch when required. 6
Sadio Mane: Repeatedly troubled Everton with his pace down the middle but they stuck to him to deny him a clear run at goal. 6
Divock Origi: Was a lively presence on the left early on but did not cause serious problems and faded as the game wore on. 5
James Milner (for Wijnaldum, 63): Brought a fresh burst of energy and drive from midfield. 6
Roberto Firmino (for Origi, 63): Liverpool started to stretch the Everton defence more after his arrival. 6
Adam Lallana (for Mane, 84): Final throw of the dice for Jurgen Klopp but the opportunities did not come. 5
Sixth-placed Chelsea have a game in hand and are now a point behind fifth-placed Arsenal and two adrift of Manchester United in fourth after Sunday’s 2-1 win at Fulham.
Third-placed Spurs, beaten 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, are just five points better off than the Blues.
Sarri reckons Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who until recently were trying to force their way into the title fight with Manchester City and Liverpool, should be looking over their shoulders.
Sarri said: “We were trying to involve Tottenham in the fight and I think that now they are involved.
“So, better two teams for four places than three for one place.”
Sarri praised the response of Kepa Arrizabalaga to his disciplinary action after the goalkeeper made a major contribution to the win at Craven Cottage.
Goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho ensured Chelsea inflicted a losing start on Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker.
The decisive goal came just three minutes after Calum Chambers had equalised, while Kepa made fine saves to twice deny Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Kepa – the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at £71.6million from Athletic Bilbao – ignored Sarri’s attempts to replace him in last Sunday’s Carabao Cup final loss to City, with penalties looming.
If Sarri can’t tell Kepa what to do then the Fulham staff have no chance... pic.twitter.com/Qd4rTy8ERc— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) March 3, 2019
Initially downplayed as a misunderstanding over an injury, Kepa was fined and dropped for Wednesday’s win over Tottenham, with Willy Caballero starting in his place.
“It was a normal decision (to recall him),” Sarri added.
“The reaction today was really very good. He paid with the club, with the team. Now the situation is closed.”
The Italian on Sunday said he had had two options to deal with the situation: reintegrate the goalkeeper or jettison him for the remainder of the season.
Sarri said the latter option never really crossed his mind – but it might have done with a different player.
He added: “With another man? Yes, of course, I could’ve done in another way. (But) I know him very well and I know that it wasn’t the right solution.”
Chelsea, and Higuain, in particular, had opportunities to put the game out of Fulham’s reach, but a third goal did not come.
Sarri reckons his side felt the effects of a draining week.
“We played very well for 60 minutes, very well. We could’ve killed the match with a third goal,” he added.
“We didn’t kill the match and then in the last 20, 25 minutes we were really very tired. Physically, but also mentally.”
Jorginho scored his first goal from open play for Chelsea and was cheered off when substituted in the second half, 10 days after being booed when coming on against Malmo.
“I’m very, very happy for him,” Sarri added.
Fulham are now 10 points adrift of safety with nine games to go.
Ryan Sessegnon thought he had earned a crucial point, but the stoppage-time effort was ruled out for offside.
Parker said: “He looked offside, to be fair. It’s minimal, but it’s the right call.
“On the run of play second half, maybe speaking with my heart before analysing it, 2-2 would have been a fair result.
“That’s how I felt: a disallowed goal, the keeper’s pulled off a couple of world-class saves.”
Parker felt the supporters got behind his team after a disconnect under Claudio Ranieri.
And he acknowledges Fulham’s likely relegation will provoke questions.
He added: “You go from the best league in the world to the Championship, so there will be some restructuring, but that’s probably a conversation to have at the end of the season.”
Here Press Association Sport assesses the 24-year-old goalkeepers’s day at Craven Cottage.
Kepa was fined and dropped by Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri for his “big mistake” at Wembley, but restored after a one-game demotion. The inclusion of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, with Willy Caballero back on the bench, merited barely a ruffle among the visiting supporters, who are yet to adopt a song for their £71.6million capture from Athletic Bilbao.
Communication and distribution
Kepa seems like the quiet sort, which made the Wembley incident all the more surprising. He continued to direct his team-mates at set-pieces, where Fulham exposed Chelsea’s defensive flaws. His distribution was fine. One chipped pass to Ryan Sessegnon failed to relieve the pressure as Fulham pressed the Blues back in the first half. Otherwise, Kepa passed short to his four defenders.
Saves and handling
Caballero did not have a save to make in the win over Tottenham. Kepa was busy here. Kevin McDonald’s cross appeared to be a regulation catch but it was dropped. Ryan Babel could not capitalise and the goalkeeper regathered, much to his relief. An instinctive save denied Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Calum Chambers scored following the resulting corner.
He saved a Tom Cairney effort which skipped off the wet turf just in front of him and denied Joe Bryan in the second half. Mitrovic was denied again in the 88th minute as Kepa saved his header.
Copy provided by Press Association Sports