Jurgen Klopp was left to bemoan a moment of magic from Eden Hazard and poor use of VAR as Liverpool crashed out of the Carabao Cup in their first defeat of the season.
A goal from Daniel Sturridge had put the Reds in front at Anfield, before Emerson’s equaliser and Hazard’s late mazy dribble and finish ended Liverpool's perfect record in matches this season.
Referee Kevin Friend – and his VAR Graham Scott – were the centre of attention on the night as the on-pitch official overruled his assistant to give a free-kick for a foul on Victor Moses, despite his assistant giving a throw-in from an excellent position just yards from the incident.
Alvaro Morata and Ross Barkley then appeared to be offside and interfering with play as the dead ball came in.
Despite a lengthy stoppage as VAR checked the goal, Chelsea’s equaliser stood.
Klopp said: “I think the first goal is offside. Three players are offside – two for sure. They watched it and didn’t think it was offside; we have to take it.
“I don’t think I have my Liverpool glasses on my nose – it’s offside. Not much: I don’t expect the ref to see that but VAR can take a look. Why use it if you don’t want to make the decision?
“We feel unlucky; we had bigger chances. They have a specific style of play; that's cool and you need to get used to it. They were not really a big threat I would say.”
Squad players earn minutes
Both teams made wholesale changes – Liverpool swapping eight players and Chelsea nine from their weekend line-ups – which made it a tough match.
Klopp added: “It was a difficult game for both sides. We weren’t used to our style of play early on but got more used to it as time went on. Minute by minute, we got more used to it, even in the start when we left too many spaces open.
“A few of the players who weren’t involved tonight aren’t 100 per cent fit. We had five players on the pitch with their first start of the season so I’m really happy that they had the game because now they are really back.“
In the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren made his first appearance since the World Cup final alongside Joel Matip.
Next to Joe Gomez, the Dutchman has been excellent for the Reds this season and it was telling that he was missing.
Alberto Moreno at left back, in particular, had a night to endure against Moses and Hazard.
Klopp was not too critical of his defenders, though, preferring to praise Hazard for a superb run and shot.
The Liverpool boss said: “Of course we could have defended [the second goal] better. But Hazard, full speed, into the box, with his turns, it’s not easy. I didn’t see it back so far so I will have to see it again.
"We scored a similar goal a week ago and it's difficult to defend, but of course it is better to defend and we know that."
Liverpool will look for revenge against their midweek opponents when they face Chelsea again, this time in the Premier League, on Saturday evening.