Munich victory is vital for Chelsea following Liverpool’s revenge act

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Liverpool set aside the hurt of Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat for one evening with their biggest league win of the season which ended Chelsea’s hopes of a top-four finish.

Kenny Dalglish’s side were as energetic and irresistible in the first half as they had been lethargic and wasteful for an hour at Wembley.

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo appeared to have accepted his side could not qualify for the Champions League via a top-four place by naming an understrength team with eight changes from Saturday, with his sights now set on a Champions League final against Bayern Munich on the German club’s home ground.

But even if he had put out the side who did so well for 60 minutes on Saturday it is debatable whether they would have been able to resist as the Reds scored four in the league for the first time since the 5-2 win at Fulham a year and a day ago.

The accusation levelled at Dalglish’s side on Saturday was that they did not turn up until it was too late.

That was far from the case in front of their own fans as they were 3-0 up inside half-an-hour and should have been even further ahead by the interval.

The woodwork has been Liverpool’s downfall this season but they enjoyed a let-off themselves in the 17th minute when Branislav Ivanovic planted a free header against the post at a corner.

But in an eight-minute spell the hosts virtually put the game out of sight with three goals almost from nowhere.

The hosts raced into their unassailable lead through Michael Essien’s own goal, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Agger, while former Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing also missed a penalty.

Ramires pulled one goal back just after the break but Jonjo Shelvey restored the three-goal cushion following an error by stand-in goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.