Mata admits Sturridge changed the game after Liverpool hold Chelsea
Juan Mata believes the introduction of Daniel Sturridge at half-time changed the game for Liverpool after Chelsea's 2-2 draw at Anfield
Juan Mata believes the introduction of Daniel Sturridge at half-time changed the game for Liverpool as the Reds held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Anfield on Sunday.
The visitors had taken a first-half lead when Oscar headed home a corner, but the Merseysiders drew level shortly after half-time – and Sturridge’s introduction – as the former Chelsea man converted Luis Suárez’s cross.
Chelsea again went ahead when Eden Hazard dispatched his penalty after Suárez’s handball in the box.
But the Uruguay striker – who was again the centre of controversy for his bite on Branislav Ivanovic – netted an equaliser deep into stoppage time.
“In the first half we did well, we played some good football and scored the goal,” Mata told Chelsea’s website.
“Sturridge changed the game in the first 10 minutes of the second half with his pace and he scored the goal, but we scored the second goal and defended very well until the end.”
Mata was also surprised at the amount of stoppage time played at Anfield, with Liverpool’s equaliser coming in the 97th minute.
He continued: “In terms of the added minutes, six minutes is a lot, so we were very disappointed at the end because it was an important game for us, especially with Tottenham and Arsenal winning.”
The draw leaves Chelsea in fourth in the Premier League table and a point behind third-placed Arsenal.
The Blues have a game in hand on the Gunners but Mata knows that the race for Champions League qualification will go right down to the wire.
“We are still alive and we will fight until the last game,” he said. “With three points we would have been in a better situation, but we still have to face Tottenham and Manchester United and we have many more important games to come.
“We will try until the end to finish in third position. Third and fourth are available, second is another challenge, but we want to play in the Champions League next season.”