Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo has pointed to the substitution of captain John Terry as a pivotal moment of his side’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday evening.
The European champions had been well in control of the early stages at Stamford Bridge and took the lead courtesy of a header from the former England skipper.
However, Terry, making his first domestic appearance after fulfilling his suspension for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, would have to be stretchered off before half-time with a suspected knee injury.
Indeed, Di Matteo believes that the defender’s departure allowed Liverpool to gain a foothold in the match, which they would later exploit with an equaliser through Luis Suarez.
“Well you saw how he started the game,” Di Matteo explained to Sky Sports when asked if his side had been affected by the departure of Terry.
“He was old fashioned with his quality and experience and obviously scored the goal as well. Certainly he’s very influential in our game and our team and certainly we miss him.”
The Italian added that it was too early to tell just how bad Terry’s injury was and that a Monday morning scan could provide more answers.
He said: “He’s got a problem with his knee and will have to have an MRI scan tomorrow morning. Hopefully it’s not too serious but at the moment we can’t say any more.
“We’ll have to wait for the MRI scan, that will tell us exactly the extent of the injury. It’s a shame because he’d just got back from his ban as well.”
The 42-year-old believed that his side had controlled matters and had been made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.
“We very much controlled the game and we had chances for the second goal and I think that’s probably the disappointment, that we weren’t able to score the second goal to kill the game off,” Di Matteo continued.
“With 1-0 it’s always a dangerous result and that’s exactly what happened. We needed to score the second one.”
Chelsea’s point sees them stay third in the Premier League table, after Manchester City had leapfrogged them by defeating Tottenham earlier on Sunday, three points behind leaders Manchester United.