Former Blues full-back Johnson netted a brilliant solo effort to inflict his old side’s third defeat in four league matches and leave both teams 12 points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Each committed defensive errors to concede earlier goals, with Maxi Rodriguez giving Liverpool a half-time lead on his first league start of the season and substitute Daniel Sturridge equalising shortly after the break.
With Chelsea’s title bid threatening to unravel entirely, manager Andre Villas-Boas hauled off Mikel for Sturridge at half-time and the substitution paid dividends in the 55th minute. Malouda was allowed to advance into the box and his cross-cum-shot was tapped home by Sturridge.
A wonder-save from Jose Reina stopped Ivanovic glancing home Didier Drogba’s free-kick two minutes later as Chelsea continued to dominate.
Liverpool visitors missed a great chance when Dirk Kuyt dragged wide after good work down the right from substitute Jordan Henderson before Johnson produced one of the goals of the season to win it three minutes from time.
The full-back brought down Adam’s pinpoint crossfield ball superbly, nutmegged Ashley Cole, and drove goalward before slotting into the corner.