Olivier Giroud keeps Blues’ top-four hopes alive

Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

The Frenchman’s flicked header just after the half-hour mark was enough to see off a Liverpool side who appeared jaded following their midweek Champions League exploits.

Liverpool missed the chance to secure Champions League football with a game to spare but are still in a strong position courtesy of their superior goal difference and, barring a 15-goal swing, a win against Brighton next weekend will see them qualify again for the competition they could win later this month in Kiev.

Jurgen Klopp’s side started brightly and Roberto Firmino saw his third-minute effort saved by Thibaut Courtois after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball over the top.

Chelsea slowly grew into the game but Liverpool maintained a threat on the break with Sadio Mane particularly lively coming in from the left.

The Senegalese had two firm efforts from the edge of the box kept out by Courtois but two minutes after the second of them, Chelsea took the lead.

Victor Moses reached the byline before checking back onto his left foot, his cross took a slight deflection and Giroud beat Dejan Lovren to the ball at the near post and guided it past Loris Karius and into the far corner.

With Chelsea largely happy to sit back, protect their lead and look for opportunities on the counter, there was a lack of intensity to Liverpool’s play and they struggled to create any clear openings.

Eden Hazard was becoming more influential for Chelsea and nearly added a second for the hosts after dancing past three Liverpool defenders, his near-post effort just rebuffed by Karius and with 10 minutes to go Marcus Alonso’s spectacular left-foot volley whistled just past the post.

Klopp sent on Dominic Solanke to provide more of a physical presence up front and the Liverpool youngster had the visitors’ two best efforts in the closing stages, firstly heading just over from 12 yards and then nodding wide in stoppage time.

The result moves Chelsea to within two points of Tottenham in fourth and just three behind third-placed Liverpool with two games remaining.