Andre Villas-Boas' Blues dumped out of the Cup as a virtuoso performance from the Welsh wide-man sees the Reds pick up two big wins in nine days at Stamford Bridge
A minute's applause was held before the game to honour Wales manager Gary Speed after his tragic passing on Sunday, and his friend, Craig Bellamy, looked visibly shaken as everyone inside Stamford Bridge paid their respects.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish had hinted before the game that fans would be wasting their time turning up to the game and made seven changes from the draw against Manchester City, with Andy Carroll replacing Luis Suarez up front.
Andre Villas-Boas also made significant changes to his team, with nine ins and outs. Fernando Torres started against his former club alongside Romelu Lukaku, as only David Luiz was retained from the defensive unit that had shut out Wolves on Saturday.
Chelsea dominated the early possession as they looked to build pressure on the Reds’ defence and threatened as early as the third minute.
David Luiz set off on a typically buccaneering run which took him into the Liverpool penalty area, Sebastian Coates stuck out a leg to challenge and brought the Brazilian down without taking the ball but Phil Dowd booked the Chelsea man for simulation as he seemed to already be on his way to the ground before contact was made.
Liverpool were looking to utilise Carroll’s height through long balls and crosses and the former Newcastle man had a chance to give the Reds the lead but snatched an effort wide after Chelsea failed to clear Henderson’s corner.
The Reds were then presented with a glorious chance to score in the 21st minute when Alex handled Jose Enrique’s left-wing cross, conceding a penalty. Phil Dowd’s decision was not immediate but was ultimately correct.
On the rise | Fernando Torres and Sebastian Coates battle for a header
Andy Carroll stepped up to take the spot-kick but his effort was woefully poor and Ross Turnbull saved comfortably down to his right, ensuring that Liverpool have now missed three out of four penalties this season.
The miss seemed to spark both sides into life, and Chelsea broke down the other end as Malouda and Lukaku combined well and only a strong last-ditch tackle from Coates stopped the Belgian youngster from getting through on Pepe Reina’s goal.
Bellamy was central to Liverpool’s attacks and his clever through ball was just too long for the on-rushing Jay Spearing and the otherwise quiet Frank Lampard blazed a 25-yard effort well over the crossbar.
The game then settled again to a familiar pattern of Chelsea methodically looking to play through Liverpool and Dalglish’s men using a higher tempo to counter attack. Kelly and Jose Enrique were pushing forward well from full-back and the Spaniard’s cross-shot was inches from finding Carroll.
Josh McEachran had looked tidy on the ball through the first period but was substituted after 40 minutes due to an injury picked up in a challenge with Spearing.
Chelsea ended the half well, as Romelu Lukaku glanced a header wide following a good run and cross from Jose Bosingwa but neither side had been able to strike a decisive blow and the teams went in at half-time with the game scoreless.
Chelsea began the second half much better with a higher tempo and better attacking intent, Romeu hitting a shot that deflected wide off Frank Lampard.
The hosts' attacking left gaps at the back however which suited Liverpool’s counter-attacking approach but wasteful passing and shooting by Bellamy let them down on seperate occasions.
Chelsea then came closest to breaking the deadlock, and Coates picked up a booking after checking Torres’ run and from Lampard’s free-kick Malouda touched the ball onto the crossbar and Luiz’s follow-up header was nudged away on the goal-line for a corner.
Just as Chelsea were looking menacing it was Liverpool who took the lead in the 58th with another counter. Henderson drove through midfield and played a perfect through ball for Bellamy who sprinted into the box and squared for Maxi Rodriguez who tapped in from six yards to score his second goal at Stamford Bridge in nine days.
The travelling fans were in fine voice and they were cheering again just five minutes later as Bellamy’s free-kick from the left found Kelly unmarked and the youngster nodded in his first goal for Liverpool.
Chelsea instantly responded, sending Juan Mata and Nicolas Anelka on for Malouda and Lukaku.
Liverpool were brimming with confidence, Bellamy tried an effort from fully 40 yards which failed to trouble Turnbull but Kenny Dalglish was dealt a blow with 20 minutes remaining as Lucas was substituted through injury, Charlie Adam replacing him.
Chelsea began to press for a way back into the game and a spell of good possession was worked to Ryan Bertrand, his cross was met by Torres but his header looped up into Reina’s arms.
Dirk Kuyt was brought on for Bellamy with ten minutes of normal time remaining, the Welshman being given a well-earned standing ovation after a dynamic performance with another vocal tribute to Gary Speed being paid on Bellamy's withdrawal.
Andy Carroll's clumsy challenge gave Alex and opportunity with a 30-yard free-kick but his effort was skewed badly wide as time looked to be running out for Chelsea.
And indeed the Blues failed to create a meaningful effort on goal as Kenny Dalglish extended his unbeaten run against Chelsea as Liverpool manager and his counterpart Andre Villas-Boas saw more pressure dumped on his shoulders as the Bluess' slump continues.