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English Premiership

Liverpool avenge FA Cup loss to Chelsea

LIVERPOOL, England, May 9 – Roberto di Matteo has admitted he is still unsure whether defenders Gary Cahill and David Luiz will be available for Chelsea’s Champions League final with Bayern Munich on May 19.

Cahill has missed the last four matches with a damaged hamstring while Luiz has not featured since April 15 because of a similar injury.

Both players were missing as an under-strength Chelsea side lost 4-1 at Liverpool in the Premier League on Tuesday in a re-run of last Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, which Chelsea won 2-1.

Di Matteo, speaking after the comprehensive defeat at Anfield, said he was unsure whether the duo would be available to feature at Bayern’s Allianz Arena later this month.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” said di Matteo, when asked about the progress of Cahill and Luiz. “I would like everyone to be available.

“We’re tracking their progress and working towards their fitness,” the former Chelsea and Italy midfielder added.

With this defeat meaning Chelsea are now unable to finish higher than sixth in the Premier League this season, di Matteo’s side need to beat Bayern to guarantee a place in next term’s Champions League.

Di Matteo defended his decision to make eight changes to the team that took the field at Wembley by saying: “You know how demanding it has been for us.

“I thought by putting a team that was energetic and fresh mentally and physically it would give us a better chance.

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“We have played every three days. Only by utilising the strength we have in the squad have we been able to reach two finals.

“We tried, we tried very hard,” added di Matteo.

But goals from Jordan Henderson, Daniel Agger, Jonjo Shelvey and an own goal by Michael Essien earned Liverpool, their biggest league win of a disappointing season.

Ramires scored a goal for Chelsea early in the second half but it was scant consolation for the Londoners.

The Merseysiders may have won the League Cup and reached the FA Cup final, but they can finish no higher than seventh in the table — and if results conspire against them on the final day of the season on Sunday, they could end up as low as ninth.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is arguably the club’s greatest player: a mainstay of the Reds teams that won multiple English titles in the 1970s and 1980s.

But he knows that not even his status at Anfield will spare him criticism if the club do not mount a more effective Premier League campaign next season.

However, in the meantime the former Scotland striker praised his players for bouncing back in emphatic style in their final home game of the season after their Wembley heartbreak.

“The players and everyone will be happy we ended on a high note,” he said. “That performance was on a par with many this season but we’ve not had the results those deserve.

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“For us it is a satisfactory evening and I hope the supporters go away happy. I don’t think there are many other places where supporters would turn up and be so supportive, especially after the Cup final.”

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, who has been criticised this season for not scoring enough goals, caught the eye with an impressive performance.

“I thought I was a little unlucky not to score,” said the £35 million ($57 million) signing from Newcastle.

“But we are delighted with the win. We always want to win and with it being the last home game it means a lot. I have been through a lot this season but I’m coming out at the end with a few good performances.”

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