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Everton 2 - 3 Liverpool

Half-time: 1 - 1

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FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #34
6pm Monday 16 April 2001
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 40,260
Aston Villa (a) Ref: Jeff Winter Arsenal (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 15th [ Results &  Table ]
Unsworth celbrates another excellent penalty goal No summary of this match can truly convey the passion and commitment showed by a despairing Everton team, the sheer unmitigated frustration created by the ridiculous decisions of Mr Jeff Winter, and the unbelievable feeling of injustice and deprivation created by the last and heavily lamented kick of the game.

To say this was a typical cut-and-thrust, no-prisoners taken kind of derby match would consign it to the ordinary and mundane.  It throbbed from even before the kick-off as alcohol-fueled loons failed to honour the half-minute's silence for those who died at Hillsborough and Ellis Park. 

Hardly had the match started than Jeff Winter was stamping his own unique and thoroughly despised personality on the proceedings denying a clear handball by Liverpool, and failing to call an offside decision as Heskey raced through to score on just 4 mins, Gerrard the shot-stopper floundering like a beached whale. 

Everton shocked huffed and puffed to organise the disheartened rabble.  Ball, observing the impossibility of ground-level football to penetrate the structured Liverpool defence, took on the mantle of Unsworth as he launched a succession of mortar-shots at Ferguson's head.  And finally, one worked, with Ferguson flicking on to Campbell, who forced the ball down as the Big Yin lumbered forward with the speed of the Flying Scotsman Goal!

Half-time came and went with Everton chomping at the bit, attacking with relish.  But that was to lead to a sudden breakaway and Liverpool were ahead again.  Then, disaster as Winter decided a fair ball-winning challenge from Gough warranted a penalty.  "Injustice" is such an inadequate word: this was a diabolical decision. Thankfully, Fowler's spot-kick thumped into the post and away...

Winter finally got it right when he showed the annoying prat Biscan a red card after he got a second yellow, and then incredibly gave a penalty against Hyppia for holding down Ferguson.  After disgusting shenanigans by the redshite, Unsworth cooly slotted home.  

Despite the man-advantage, Everton appeared in true Walter Smith fashion to be settling for the well-earned draw.  Three minutes of added time dragged on producing what seemed to be a harmless free-kick for Liverpool miles away from goal.  The clock read 93 mins 45 secs as McAllister so often the executioner of Evertonian hopes curled an inch-perfect strike just inside Gerrard's badly exposed right-hand post.

For Evertonians there is no justice.


EVERTON: Ferguson (42'), Unsworth (pen:84')
Liverpool: Heskey (5'), Babbel (57'), McAllister (90')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Watson (62' Pistone), Gough {capt} (73' Alexandersson), Weir, Ball; Xavier, Nyarko, Gemmill, Unsworth; Ferguson, Campbell. 
Cleland, Gascoigne, S Hughes, Jeffers, Naysmith (injured); Myhre (on loan) 
Simonsen, Gravesen, Pembridge.
Liverpool: Westerveld, Henchoz, Carragher, Hyypia, Babbel, McAllister, Biscan (77' Sent Off!), Smicer, Hamann, Fowler {c}(84' Vignal), Heskey.  Arphexad, Zeige, Owen, Wright.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 3-3-2-2
Liverpool: Red shirts; red shorts; red socks. 4-4-2
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Ball (9'), Ferguson (42'), Gerrard (60'), Gough (60'), Unsworth (80'), Alexandersson (90').
Liverpool: [Biscan (10', 77')], Hamann (66'), McAllister (82'), Carragher (83'), Henchoz (87'). Biscan (77')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats    

Mickey Blue Eyes Everton Welcomes Careful Drivers
Guy McEvoy Derby-day stomach-churner
Steve Bickerton It should have been about passion
Lyndon Lloyd Being an Evertonian can be so hard sometimes
Richard Marland Gutwrenching!
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH McAllister produces trump card
by Henry Winter
THE TIMES McAllister delivers the final blow
by Oliver Kay
THE INDEPENDENT Link to Match Reports
THE GUARDIAN Link to Football Unlimited
DAILY POST Link to Daily Post Report
LIVERPOOL ECHO Link to Echo Report
EVERTON FC SITE Link to Official Match Report

BBC SPORTS Link to BBC Sports Match Report
SKY SPORTS Link to Sky Sports Match Report
SPORTING LIFE Link to PA Sports Match Report
SOCCERNET Link to SoccerNet Match Report
FA PREMIER Link to FA Premier Match Report

 Everton welcomes careful drivers
Mickey Blue Eyes

Derby day dawned beautiful and clear.  You felt like you had the biggest voice in the world, the greatest ever hunger to get to a match. Even the Mersey was Royal Blue.  Oh YES!  Its gonna go our way!  

To an early afternoon Meet at Wetherspoons, wherein there was a merciful shortage of NoNecks, trainers, male earrings, musicbladder, striped Adidas kecks and greasy baseball caps.  Compensations were everywhere in the shape of hour-glass ladies determined to make the first showing of the year.  Spring, when a young mans fancy turns to what hes been obsessed with all winter...

Gradually the Meet expanded 'til we were standing in a circle chatting fluent liquorice allsorts, what Tom Wolfe called a bouquet of conversationalists.  At times like this, mobile phones are indispensable for direction-finding.  Everyone homed in perfectly.  At one point, mine rang and Texyla claimed a couple of blind people tried to get over a nearby pedestrian crossing and nearly got mowed down by mystified, cursing devotees of the internal combustion engine.  He still cant understand why I wont have Z-Cars as my ring tone.  Nor did he comprehend why I was drinking shandy since everybody else was cauterising their derby-match nerve-ends with something much stronger....

Me; I was pacing myself and cussing out Sky TV and this ridiculous dislocating 6 pm kick-off shite...  When are the footy-powers-that-be going to understand that we can kick the shit out of Murdoch any time we want?  HE needs US, not the other way around.  Get together and fuck Murdoch and his ilk right off. NOW!  Man United fans showed how to do it.  And thats what he and his lackeys are absolutely shit scared of.  There.... Had me rant.

So up to the Black Horse and wagons drawn in, erm, a laager in the rear beer garden.  Gorgeous, slightly chilly afternoon as the sun began its downward journey.  Tiny and large kids played footy and chased each other in the background.  The number of wagons increased but nobody was at all disposed to get on one.  Even I had switched to the real thing by then.  Everything began to feel, hey, okay.  Which is a clear example of how your feelings can sometimes be as treacherous as any traitor.  Derby days must mean you are permanently on edge.  They arent ordinary matches and never will be.

Earlier results filtered through.  Coventry won; Derby won; Boro lost.  Really, we needed a win.  Anything less and we were back in the maelstrom.  Oh well...  We walked to the ground, nerves jangling, loudly brave.  So was everyone else.  There seemed to be a distinct lack of Pinkies, which is their new Guaranteed-To-Drive-Them-Up-The-Wall-Nickname.  In a macho sport, anything which hints at homosexuality is de rigeur provocative.  Ask Robbie Fowler.  But it is a truism that their new strip IS nearer to pink than red, haha!  Use the nickname and watch their faces when you deliver it.  Its priceless.

Inside, teams announced.  Nyarko over Gravesen... Huh?  Probably a good move on two fronts though: theyre both garbage but were hoping to sell Alex and The Gravedigger isnt noted for self-discipline thick bastard.  Up front, SuperKev and. THE BIG YIN!  Hope renewed....

Then the teams were out to a mighty roar and everyones nerves of course immediately went to appropriate pieces.  We all know the feeling.  Feel it or fuck off.  You cant be half a virgin.

And so began a mad, mad match.  You couldnt write the script and if you did, nobody would believe you.  It had everything, even good footy though almost all of that came from the Pinkies.  For once, our entire team threw themselves into the game like they really wanted to win it.  Whats seldoms wonderful.  It made for a great, great sports spectacle.

A few minutes in and we attacked.  The Yin contested a ball with a Pinky and the Pinky handled it as clear as daylight even from the opposite Street End.  Penalty!?  Dont be silly; denied... switched to the other end, and Goughy blundered badly in hesitating for what looked an offside and the Pinky lumbered (its the only word) through and hit it past a helpless one-on-one Paul.  Shit.  

The Street End was up in arms a penalty? an offside?  Get ON with it.  So we did, battling all the way.  Which is just as well because it was only the Pinkies who passed the ball with any cohesion.  Where we managed to string two passes together they strung four or five.  It was like that all evening.  Weve got a long way to go...

Mid-way, we got an undeserved equaliser during an untidy right-side move which the Pinkies really should have cleared, but didnt, and the ball came loose to who else? The Yin, coming in from the left side of the penalty arc, and he bladdered it equally untidily straight into the Park End net and all the loving arms behind it.  The ground exploded, grateful for the first break we had.  Turned out to be the last.  Thats life, and derby games...

The game got to half-time with the air crackling and anything looking possible from an embattled midfield, bodies everywhere, and the Pinkies getting more team-confident by the minute.  Goal apart, Pinky Hyppia was handling the twin threat of SuperKev-Yin really well.  We were being out-passed but nobody gave a shit.  The Blue Bellies were up for it.  Anything could happen.  And of course it did.

We restarted really well lots of pressure, and looking likely to steamroller them.  We werent really getting through to The Cheesehead though.  Hes definitely a weak link and it might well have paid off had we managed it. 

Then, while we were all congratulating ourselves that something was on the cards despite the general flow, they got a breakaway down the left and a harmless ground cross bobbled into our penalty area from near the byline.  Two Bellies had a go at hacking a simple clearance over the stand roof.  Instead, they both got half-hearted deflections on it and it went straight to a closing Pinky, centre penalty area and it got smacked home.  Double shit.  

Not one, TWO defensive errors.  We started to consult astrological charts to see what we had done to deserve this.  Maybe Ive kicked too many black cats this season.

Then the Pinkies got a penalty for a Goughy tackle. Which Fowler promptly cracked against Pauls left post and it rebounded away to gleeful roars of survival.

So we had to start again.  The balls were coming in thick and fast to Kev and The Yin but they were mostly getting headed straight back out.  Then it paid off when we got a penalty in the Street End.  I didnt see what happened for the second time this season so I cant say whether it was or it wasnt.  All that mattered was that the ball was on the spot and the Pinkies were doing their disgraceful best to upset Beloved Lard Arse.  He sent it one way, right, and The Cheesehead went gloriously the wrong way in front of the Street End.  Dancing in the seats!

A Pinky got sent off for a second yellow and so it was ten against eleven and time ticking down...  With nothing left on the clock, we were attacking again when the ball got played out left and was handled by a Pink midfield player.  A couple more passes and it got handled yet again.  No free either time.  Then it got near midway in our half, out left, and they got a free kick for a maybe tackle.  Well, whatd you expect?  The wall didnt line up, Paul stayed on the line on the left of his goal and a clear shot was duly despatched into the unguarded net, low down, Pauls right side.  The whistle went a few seconds later.

So we let in three really bad goals.  But theres no disputing the Pinkies deserved it on the day.  Our goals werent that much better.

But make the most of this derby, folks.  You wont see its like again in short order.  It has become poisoned by irrational hatred between the fans which both clubs had better attend to BY JOINT ACTION RIGHT NOW.  Crush it before it gets out of hand.  The reasons for this development are absurd and evil nonsense which have led to equal behaviour by both sets of fans.  It is wrong and it is tragic.  The only winners in this sort of situation are the enemies of our beloved city, who are legion.  Do we really need to give them more ammunition to fire at us?

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Derby day stomach-churner
Guy McEvoy
A bank holiday; nice day weather-wise, and a 6 o'clock kick-off.  I made my way down County Road and it was obvious that many blues had been making the most of it.  The pubs were overflowing and the chanting loud and proud.  By the time I got past the Spellow, you could hear old songs recalling the whole '85 team with lads leading the singing who probably weren't even at school then.  They know their 'istory.....

Into the ground the usual pre-derby buzz.  It looked full by ten-to...  'Grand Ol' Team' blurred out before Z-Cars.  All nicely set up for a big occasion.  Everyone one of us hoping to stuff their Champions Leagues ambitions up their arses.  Barmby may well have shit-out of this one, but the Park End managed a splendid rendition of 'Die, Die, Nicky, Nicky Die' nevertheless.

The teams were announced and the players made their way to the centre circle.  The announcer explained we were to have a minute's silence for Hillsborough and the South African disaster.  Fair enough.  We stood, and the whistle blew and we were, to start with, silent.  

Over the last 10 years at Goodison I cannot recall a single one of these silences being interrupted, and god knows, we've had a few of them.  Today though it just all went wrong.  Some Knobhead shouted something about Heysel, more well-meaning knobheads shouted 'shut-up', and then more fuckwits felt obliged to launch a volley of 'shut-ups' to the 'shut-upers'.  It was probably down to six hours of afternoon drinking but, whatever the excuse, it shamed our club on live TV, and took away the 'good feeling' I'd had during the rest of the build up.

And if that took a bit of wind out of my sails, then it was nothing compared to what was to happen within what seemed like straight from the kick-off.  We'd only just had the obligatory crunching initial tackle Everton had an attack, a long ball was played to Duncan, he didn't get it and appealed for a handball.  I think all our players were looking to the ref I know I was.  

Meanwhile, someone played Heskey through and he found himself ahead of Watson with time to comfortably drill home.  Apparently, the goal was recorded in the fourth minute but it felt sooner than that to me.  Worse, I was momentarily not sure that I was in my usual Top Balcony spec.  It felt more like the Kop End.  RS everywhere.  Even enough of them to get a chant of 'Heskey' going from behind me.  How on earth did so many tickets end on general sale?  Could we really not find enough Evertonians to go the Derby?

So the tone was set.  Gritty and grisly.  Stop-start football.  Thank God for Ball and Unsworth who picked themselves up and showed those in the teams that don't understand what's expected.  The passion quickly got Ball booked and Unsworth was to follow later in the game.

I must admit I faded out of concentrating for the next twenty minutes.  I found myself more fixated with the red sitting behind me.  Now, I'm a tolerant bloke, live and let live and mild mannered with it.  And I've been known to sit in the 'home' ends myself at 'aways', if you follow...  I've even spent a couple of Derby's in the Centenary Stand at their place, so this probably makes me a hypocryte.  

But anyway, this one wasn't content to just sit there nicely and clap politely when they scored; this one had to give a whole running commentary about what he saw as their magnificence and our inadequacies, with the blue-tinged injustice of the referee apparently all that was holding them back.  For fucks sake!  He went on and on.  I finally lost it when he unilaterally started a full hearted chant of 'One Nil in Your Cup Final'.  Views were exchanged.  I expressed myself with the eloquencey of an open sewer.  I'd like to say I'm not really proud of that and the episode was pointless.  But I'd be lying.  He piped down.

So by the time I focussed back on what mattered on the pitch we were getting ourselves back in the game.  Duncan missed the ball after some great build-up play put him with a clear opportunity; Gemmill had a header that went inches wide.  But it did come.  Campbell mis-controlled in the box, the second ball went loose, it looked like going to Gemmill but he put his arms out to let Ferguson, who was romping forward, make the clear connection.  One-all!  Goodison shook!!!  Duncan had the shirt twirling like United '95 (for which he was booked) and the twat behind me was ashen white.  All was well with the world.  Get in!

No changes at half-time by Walter.  Personally, I'd have stuck Gravesen on.  So what if he charges round like a bull in a china shop?  That's exactly what was needed in this game, none of their lot wanting to get injured for the Barcelona game and so pulling out of every 50-50 tackle while our Tommy would be scaring the shit out of them going aimlessly for 70-30 ones could have tipped it for us.  

We'll never know though as Walter decided to persevere with Nyarko.  Gravesen's contribution in the end was limited to running up the touch-line during his warm up and acting as a cheer leader for the Park End.

Just as I was mulling over this, Nyarko made his best contribution of the game with a break in the box that was unlucky not to generate more.  That was when I made the fatal mistake of telling the lad next to me that we had them now.  Fowler breaks, puts a cross in, Ball gets a slight touch, the loose ball evades the entire Everton back line to drop for one of their mercenaries.  Two-One.  Shit!

Then, within another couple of minutes Fowler bursts through, Gough clean takes the ball (as far as I could see) but Winter points without hesitation to the spot.  Fuck!  Fuck!!  Fuck!!!  From dominance to out of it in two minutes!

Sniffer stepped forward and tried a cocky skip in his run up.  They look great when they work but show you up as a twat when they bounce out off the post.  You can imagine the cheer....  Hope for us again.

And credit it to us we did keep at it.  Ball volleyed just over after we'd played ping-pong in their box; a free kick almost saw an unlikely wonder header from Xavier go in; and another free kick saw Duncan held down and our turn for a spot-kick.

Unsworth, stepped up, but they're players were giving it the maximum moan.  It seemed to take an age between the incident and the spot-kick being taken, with shoving and cards in between and me getting that light-headed hyper-ventilation feeling.  Credit to Unsworth for having bollocks like bowling balls and tucking it away without embellishment.  See how it's done Robbie?  Easy.  Anyway, you can imagine the scenes....

They tried to ruin it with a close range header from Hyypia but Gerrard pulled one of those rabbits out of a hat to tip it round the post.

And there it was.  A hard earned point.  Several players had put their head above the parapet enough for us to compete I'd single out Gemmill, Weir, Rhino and Ball.  The ground was still buzzing.  Three minutes of added time.

And so you can begin imagine what it felt like, just how mind-blowingly gutting it was, when after four minutes, from forty odd yards, in a nothing situation, McAllister, with practically the last swing of a leg, hits his free kick straight in.

I could moan about how it shouldn't have been a free-kick, about what the hell was Gerrard doing that far left, about the fact the game should have been done and dusted a minute earlier regardless but the moaning isn't going to change it.  The point vanished, the good things from the game will be forgotten already, and we're now back under pressure.

It was a long walk back up County Road and the mood was very, very different.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 It should have been about passion
Steve Bickerton
As I write this part before the game, I'm not sure that I believe that we'll get anything out of today's fixture.  With a strike force of indeterminate makeup, a midfield of irregular craft and creativity, and the possible omission of the hero of the last few weeks, David Unsworth, I can't see much to offer in solace or comfort.  But these occasions aren't about the differing abilities of the two sets of players; they're about passion and commitment.  Whether we have those qualities in sufficient quantity remains to be seen...

It's bad enough that you start off slowly; its even worse when the whole defence stops for an offside that isn't going to be given.  Four minutes in and the die is already cast.  A handball in the Liverpool defence goes unpunished; the ball is punted up field... and then lashed down the middle.  Down stays the flag, away rushes Heskey, and we're 0-1 down.  Not the most satisfying start.  But it was to get worse much worse.  Two dubious decisions and the game's still less than five minutes old.  Sour grapes you bet!

Of course, the heads went down and it took the crowd and the infectious attitudes of Michael Ball and David Unsworth to get the team moving again and going they got.  Liverpool made very little progress forward after the first 15 minutes and when they did they were ably shepherded, but there was a crying need for some width down the Everton right.  So Walter made a change in the first half.  He pulled Xavier back into a five and asked Watson to take up the right flank.  There was an almost immediate dividend as Watson crossed from the byline only to see Westerveld flap and Gemmill head narrowly wide with a difficult diving header.  This was what we needed!

In the heart of the Liverpool defence, only Hyppia stood firm against Ferguson, who was both architect and finisher, when it came to the equalising goal.  He leapt above Hyppia, nodding on to Campbell, who turned it back to Ferguson, who buried it in the corner of the net.  Ferguson raced for the Park End, divested himself of his shirt and waved it, in trademark fashion, around his head.  Cue Mr Winter with his notebook.  A farce.

The half ended with Everton in the ascendancy, but the scores tied at 1-1.

The second half started brightly with Everton again pressing.  Walter had made a number of tactical switches, reverting to a back four, with Xavier moving into the centre of midfield, with Gemmill and Unsworth taking the right and left.  Nyarko was pushed forwards just behind the front two.  This seemed to be working well as Liverpool sat back.  

A free kick from the left from the cultured foot of Michael Ball almost brought a goal as Xavier stooped at the far post only to see his header first parried by Westerveld and then pushed just wide of the post.  But the pressure wasn't to tell.  A hand ball in the penalty area went unpunished (it was inadvertently shown twice on the giant screens and a more blatant handball I can't ever remember seeing).  That signalled a period of Liverpool pressure as Everton were unable to come to terms with the decision. 

But there was no real pressure on Gerrard, before the blues turned up the pressure again.  Wouldn't you know it, we press them back they break forward and with pretty much only their second real shot of the game, they're 1-2 up.  Injustice?  You bet!

The boys looked shattered as they gathered themselves for the uphill struggle ahead of them.  But this time the reds were fired up and pressed again.  Fowler raced forward and went down under a Gough challenge.  The referee pointed to the spot.  Gerard, Gough, and Weir all protested and Gerrard received a caution for his trouble.  Gough received his mandatory yellow for the offence.  Now, from my point of view it seemed a valid decision, but an impartial observer suggested after the game, that the TV replays suggested that it was a tad dubious. 

If that was so, then the striking of the ball against the post by Fowler and the clearance of the rebound by Everton was no more than we deserved.  We continued to move forward, looking the most menacing, but not really creating any clear cut chances.  Then came what I thought would be the turning point as Liverpool were reduced to 10 men: Biscan was yellow-carded for a second time and left the field of play.

We carried the game to Liverpool and eventually forced a throw on the left.  Michael Ball stepped forward to take it.  Duncan Ferguson looked up at the giant TV screen at the Gwladys Street End to assess the position of Hyppia behind him.  He was close, but not close enough, so Duncan stepped back a pace just as Ball launched the ball.  Hyppia forced his arms over Ferguson's shoulders and the referee blew for a penalty.  A bit dubious, but always welcome!!! 

Rhino stepped forwards to take it.  Carragher and Westerveld then started a pantomime of trying to put off the Everton defender, Carragher by moving the ball and complaining about its position on the spot and Westerveld by standing in front of the ball, trying to psyche out our hero.  Jeff Winter decided that enough was enough and booked Carragher, who continued to protest, while Rhino merely picked up the ball, replaced it on the spot, and then buried the ball in the net sending the Dutchman the wrong way in the process.  2-2 and the match really was there for the taking.

Gerrard, for all his faults, can make some excellent saves.  One such came from a Liverpool set piece as Hyppia, unchallenged rose to head the ball goalwards.  But at full stretch he pushed the ball away a save of world-class proportions.  If only the rest of his game was so assured.

By this time, Watson had been replaced by Pistone at right back (groans of disbelief again) and Gough then made way for Alexandersson.  The Swede had an impact on the game though only in the dying moments, but for all the wrong reasons.  The referee had indicated 3 minutes of stoppage time and, with about 2 minutes 40 gone, a hand-ball just outside the Liverpool box by who knows who (but he wore a red shirt) again went unpunished. 

The ball was carried up field with Alexandersson harrying the carrier.  In the end Alexandersson made his tackle and pushed the ball inside to Nyarko.  Mr Winter, however, had different view: a tackle from behind.  Free kick Liverpool.  The game was almost dead as Gary McAllister stepped forward and drove the ball into the net.  Why does he do that to us so often?  For Leeds, for Coventry and now for Liverpool.  2-3.  A most unwarranted result.

The Everton players, like the crowd, were stunned in disbelief.  Phil Thompson, at the end, seemed to have a few uncomplimentary words with David Weir.  I thought David was going to say a few choice words to him, but he merely offered him a drink from a plastic bottle from about ten yards and insisted he take it.  That about summed it up.  The players obviously felt as though they'd been robbed.

Mr. Winter will no doubt indicate that he got away with it in much the same way as one Graham Poll did.  Such is life at Goodison Park.

As for my views before the game, they were wide of the mark.  True, we weren't particularly creative... but, in home grown defenders like Ball and Unsworth, we had players who were up for it and leading the way.  Ferguson and Campbell (more so Ferguson) both chased for the cause.  Weir and Gough were just, well Weir and Gough.  Gemmill fought hard and Nyarko eventually adapted.  

Xavier had a bit of an in-and-out game but looked as though it meant something to him.  Watson was as committed as ever and Gerrard was still rooted to his line too much.  But it was a team performance of the like we need to repeat in the remaining fixtures.  As for the substitutes, neither Pistone nor Alexandersson could be said to have let down the side.

I just wonder about the wall placement from that free kick...

Man of the Match: Michael Ball - a cultured and mature performance.

Bookings (Everton) - Ball, Ferguson, Gough, Gerrard, Unsworth, Alexandersson - and no doubt a severe word from the FA's disciplinary committee.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Being an Evertonian can be so hard sometimes
Lyndon Lloyd

It's a strange thing sometimes being exiled five-and-a-half thousand miles away from Goodison Park on Easter Monday while the Merseyside derby is being played out in its typical blood and thunder fashion to a capacity crowd.

The Yanks choosing not to properly celebrate the Easter holiday meant that there was no long weekend for me; I was stuck in work while the match was being screened live a rare luxury on Fox Sports World so the VCR was employed to record proceedings and all I had to do was avoid my e-mail and stay away from Everton-related websites.  It worked; when I sat down to play the tape back I was utterly oblivious to the final outcome.

The match itself was for me all about gut feelings: I had a feeling as soon as I saw his ugly mug that Jeff Winter was going to ruin our day; I had a feeling that Dunc was going to silence my criticism of him by scoring; I had a feeling that Fowler was going to miss his penalty; I had a feeling no, a conviction actually, I'd have put my house on it that Rhino was going to bury his; and I could just see what was going to happen when McAllister took that last-minute free-kick with Gerrard's attention so obviously on the group of players on the other side of his goal.

I didn't foresee a Liverpool win it's hard sometimes to look beyond a battling draw but it's just an Evertonian's life to see a point go up in smoke at the last gasp.  It was an absolute sickener.

The game had barely begun when a handball in the Liverpool area went possibly unnoticed but predictably unpunished and within the blink of an eye Heskey was lumbering through a non-existent Everton defence to plant the ball under Gerrard to give first blood to the Dark Side.

Visions of a reverse of our derby triumph in Hades last season came to mind; of Houllier's Hordes hanging on for 86 minutes to claim victory on the opposition patch.  Everton's uncoordinated and shambolic performance for much of the remainder of the first half did little to dispel that notion.  We simply didn't look capable of scoring in what was an untidy and niggly first period that saw Ball booked for a two-footed challenge on Hamman and Biscan booked for an apparent act of retribution, an arm across the Everton defender's face.

Chances were few and very far between but hope sprung eternal from the fact that Liverpool were offering nothing more in the way of attacking enterprise.  After 20 minutes, Ferguson's first chance arrived and he mis-kicked completely before Westerveld finger-tipped a cross to the edge of the six-yard box and, although Gemmill reacted quickly, he wasn't able to divert his header inside the far post.

Everton were encouraged, however, and thanks to the confident defending of David Weir and the limitless spirit and energy shown by Ball and Unsworth, the Blues grew in stature until the equaliser arrived three minutes before the interval.

One of countless high balls was aimed at Ferguson who nodded down to Campbell but he was crowded out by two defenders.  Fortunately, the ball squirmed loose and Gemmill held back to allow the freight-train advance of Ferguson to sweep the ball home.  Goodison erupted and the Big Man tore his shirt off and waved it over his head in triumph.  It was a brief reminder of more positive times.

Half time; all square and a chance to start over with a better 45 minutes.

Although Walter's side were more organised in the opening quarter of an hour, I don't recall a chance of note, just more niggles and more yellow cards being bandied about by the increasingly farcical Winter.

12 minutes into the second period, disaster struck.  An Unsworth free kick at one end was repelled by the Liverpool defence and a swift counter-attack ended with Fowler free on the left to cross dangerously into the center.  Ball and Unsworth both failed to make the necessary contact from awkward body angles and Marcus Babbel too experienced to execute a typical defender's shot, buried it past Gerrard to make it 2-1.

Minutes later it all looked over: the ball was delivered straight into the heart of the Everton area, Gough slid and made slight but noticeable contact with the ball as the Liverpool forward tumbled to the ground.  The penalty award and subsequent bookings for protesting arrived right on cue.  If Gough hadn't made contact, it was obstruction at the most, but he did and it should never have been a spot kick, end of story.

The footballing gods seemed to agree.  Fowler stepped up, tried an unsporting fake and hooked the ball against the upright to the jeers and cheers of the home faithful.  Everton had survived to fight another day.

And that meant that Walter could make another of his trademark mad tactical decisions and remove Steve Watson (apparently injured) for Alessandro Pistone a left-footed player thrown into the fray at right back when either Abel Xavier or Niclas Alexandersson could have fit the bill more readily.  Pistone's first touch a sliced right-foot aerial pass that ballooned off into the stands did nothing to justify the manager's decision.

Still, the Blues got on with it and Pistone got better in this unfamiliar role in spite of Smith's lunacy.  On 69 minutes, Gemmill had two shots blocked and Unsworth volled over after a series of crosses and goalbound efforts pinged around the Liverpool area and, with 10 minutes to go, Nyarko sent a stinging effort straight at Westerveld.  In between, Alexandersson was introduced at the expense of a tiring Richard Gough and Igor Biscan was sent off for Liverpool, rather harshly as it turned out, for going in two-footed but missing.

With the impetus already with Everton and now a numerical advantage, hope of an equaliser grew and it arrived in the overdue award of a penalty when Hyppia was, quite rightly, penalised for hanging all over Ferguson.  It's an offence that gets punished less and less these days but it is a penalty if the rules are adhered to.

There were the usual histrionics as Reds players tried to delay the kick and Carragher was booked for encroachment but Unsworth was, as usual, unfazed, coolly dispatching the ball past Westerveld to grab a vital point in the relegation dogfight.

Or so everyone in the ground must have thought.  With five minutes to go, Gerrard pulled off a terrific one-handed save, clawing a goal-bound shot out to safety and, with the clock ticking at 88 minutes, substitute Vignal was denied a penalty by Winter.

Three minutes of stoppage time were awarded and, with the game petering out, Vignal burst into the Everton half, tracked by Alexandersson who eventually brought him down in a seemingly harmless position midway between the half-way line and the edge of the Blues's area.

While Gerrard concentrated on a badly-placed wall and a clump of players to the right his left of the area, McAllister picked his spot and planted the ball past the despairing dive of a goalkeeper who should never have been so woefully out of position.

And that was it. No matter that the clock read 3.45 minutes of time added when there were only supposed to be 3.00.  The joy of having saved a point, the relief at edging another draw closer to Premiership safety, was gone in one controversial moment.  The one saving grace of much of the last decade the joy of never losing to Liverpool had been laid to rest as the filthy Reds did the double over us.  Utter despondency.

Being an Evertonian can be so hard sometimes.

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Richard Marland
Can there be a worse way to lose a derby?  Having battled so hard to drag ourselves back into it to throw it away to a soft sucker punch like that, well, it's hard to put into words.

Walter had been bold with his team selection and tactics.  Dunc made it no real surprise there but there were surprise recalls for Gough and Xavier and another surprise in midfield where Nyarko got the nod ahead of Gravesen.  The line up was a 4-4-2 with Watson and Ball as fullbacks and a midfield of Xavier, Nyarko, Gemmill, and Unsworth. Xavier and Unsworth dropped back as auxiliary defenders when they were required.

It has to be said that Liverpool had the better of the first half possession without really threatening.  Their goal came from a long ball for Heskey to run on to, he looked suspiciously offside.  Apart from that, our goal didn't really come under threat.  

We failed to get a grip on the midfield area; Nyarko's languid style isn't best suited to the inferno of a derby and the game seemed to pass him by a little.  Despite all of this, Gemmill had a good chance which he headed just wide, and then of course we fashioned an equaliser through that man Ferguson.  On possession they shaded it but on chances we deserved to be level.

We started the second half much better than the first.  We looked sharper and were quicker to close them down.  We even had a little pressure, but then, as often seems the way they scored on the breakaway.  We seemed to have got enough bodies back to cover but the ball fell straight into Babbel's path after a deflection.

Liverpool got another break almost immediately when Fowler won a penalty.  It was at the opposite end of the ground to me but appeared to be a bit harsh, Gough appearing to come between Fowler and the ball as it came through to Gerrard.  Justice appeared to be done when the penalty struck the inside of the post and bounced away to safety.

The pace of the game seemed to get more and more frenetic, and incident seemed to follow incident.  Pistone came on for the injured Watson and settled nicely into right back, Alexandersson came on for Gough and went up front as we reverted to a back three.  Cards were being issued left right and centre, one of which saw Biscan getting sent off for a second bookable.

We kept pressing and got the reward of a penalty when Hyppia clearly held down Dunc in the area.  It was one of those ones that aren't usually given even though it was a clear foul.  We had the usual shenanigans with protests over the award and then protests over the placing of the ball on the spot, with cards being issued all over the place.  Through it all Rhino kept his cool and eventually converted with aplomb.

The pace of the game continued to rage, Hyppia managed to get a free header which Gerrard saved brilliantly, they started to fall like nine-pins all over the pitch, we tried to go forward but without any real conviction.  Then deep into the three minutes of injury time Alexandersson lost possession near their box, he chased back and in attempting to redeem the situation was adjudged to have fouled his man from behind, despite winning the ball. 

The kick was a long way out and was lined up by McAllister; we had a token two-man wall but we seemed to be anticipating a cross.  McAllister saw his chance and had a pot at goal; Gerrard saw it too late and was too far away to do anything about it.  The ball seemed to enter the bottom corner of the net in slow motion.

Almost straight from the kick off the final whistle was blown, the Everton players sank to the ground utterly demoralised, we left the ground in disbelief.  Two Goodison derbies and two big, last minute "incidents" that have fallen their way, when are these things going to even themselves out?

  • Gerrard  All his attributes and faults encapsulated in 90 minutes.  One brilliant save, but loads of dodgy kicking, a few half-arsed attempts to come for crosses, and then a major howler.  He just never seemed to have considered the possibility of a shot.
  • Watson  The usual good performance before being forced off by injury.
  • Ball  Classy, composed and accomplished.  Growing in stature as the season goes on.
  • Gough  Was this his swan-song?  The way he applauded the crowd as he left seems to indicate that it was.  Didn't let us down.
  • Weir  As accomplished as ever.  Also very fired up, in fact I've never seen him as fired up.  Squared up to Heskey, squared up to Carragher and then threw a water bottle at the odious Phil Thompson as he was leaving the pitch.
  • Xavier  Took a little while to get going but had a decent game.  He's a good man to have in derbies as he works hard and gets stuck in but also keeps a cool head.
  • Gemmill  A little bit swamped in midfield but really needs a midfield partner.
  • Nyarko  I felt he got better as the game wore on but a lot of it seemed to pass him by.  I don't think he really caught on to what it was all about, as the players were leaving the pitch, many in obvious anger and distress, he was stood there glibly swapping shirts with Smicer.
  • Unsworth  Another rhino-hearted performance.
  • Campbell  The liveliest he's looked in a good long while.
  • Ferguson  Gave it his all, scored and earned us a penalty.  Caused them problems all game and was utterly shattered at the end.  I hope to god he's available again before the season's out.
  • Pistone  Did OK.  Seems comfortable on his right foot (for all those who scream about playing people "out of position").
  • Alexandersson  Showed a commendable sense of urgency but it all seemed a little too frenetic and he gave the ball away through a poor first touch on several occasions.

Man of the match  Michael Ball for a classy, committed display.

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 McAllister produces trump card
Henry Winter, Electronic Telegraph
A TEMPESTUOUS, pulsating Merseyside derby of 12 yellow cards and one red, of penalty controversy and fine goals, was settled in sensational fashion by Gary McAllister's free kick in stoppage time.

Just when Liverpool's chase for a Champions League place appeared to be fading fast in the Goodison gloaming, McAllister stepped up and sent a 44-yard shot swerving past Paul Gerrard for Liverpool's first win here in 11 years.  McAllister was playing only because Gerard Houllier wanted to rest Steven Gerrard before the visit of Barcelona on Thursday.

It was a remarkable climax to an increasingly compelling contest.  Like ancient heavyweights, these old rivals traded blows throughout.  Liverpool were without Gerrard, Patrik Berger and the suspended Danny Murphy for a derby battle that had seen the tension cranked up before the game by virtue of Ipswich's win at Middlesbrough, which left Liverpool nine points behind third place with three games in hand.

Emile Heskey struck first for Liverpool but Duncan Ferguson equalised just before the break.  Then Markus Babbel put Liverpool back into the lead and Robbie Fowler missed a penalty before Igor Biscan was sent off for two bookable offences.  Everton went for the jugular and when Sami Hyypia was judged to have fouled Ferguson, David Unsworth converted.

Until Ferguson's intervention two minutes before half-time, Liverpool had largely dominated the 164th Merseyside derby.  McAllister and Dietmar Hamann controlled central midfield, eclipsing Scot Gemmill and the ineffectual Alex Nyarko, while Heskey's movement, wide and deep, worried Everton.

Within four minutes, Liverpool's record signing had scored.  The goal was rooted in controversy, Everton's players and supporters screaming as one for a Jamie Carragher handball as he contested Unsworth's long ball with Ferguson.  Jeff Winter, deeming it accidental with some justification, waved play on and Liverpool had their chance.

Fowler headed the clearance back to Hamann, whose first-time through ball was placed perfectly for Heskey, for once unattended by Richard Gough.  Two swift touches with his left guided the ball where Heskey wanted it; his right then hammered down into the ball, sending it skimming beneath Gerrard, the Everton goalkeeper.

Everton were incensed, and, until Ferguson's moment of class, distracted and disjointed.  Creativity was an absent quality in midfield with the game-plan seemingly focused on delivering the ball to the tall target figure of Ferguson.

Just as the game appeared to be heading to the quiet waters of half-time, Ferguson delighted his faithful followers.  Having got in ahead of Hyypia to flick on Michael Ball's pass, Ferguson raced into the box looking for scraps.  When the loose ball arrived, following a challenge on Kevin Campbell, Ferguson reacted quickest, shooting confidently and unerringly past Sander Westerveld.

Everton's derby folk hero, whom all Goodison was hoping would recover in time from a knee injury, celebrated his goal in unrestrained fashion, putting the manic into talismanic by ripping his shirt off, waving it above his head and running rather too closely to the incensed Liverpool fans.  Winter only slightly spoiled the party by booking Ferguson.

Everton were in the mood, emerging from the dressing room after the break brimming with vigour, but it was Liverpool who scored next.  When Hamann picked up possession at the edge of his box, following an Everton free kick, Liverpool went raiding at speed.

Spying Fowler's burst down the inside-left channel, Hamann's pass forward to his captain was expert indeed, the ball played into space and making full use of Fowler's speed.  The England striker raced on, almost reaching the goal-line, where he cut the ball back.  Unsworth and Gemmill attempted to clear but failed and there was Babbel arriving to volley Liverpool ahead.

The visitors' smiles grew almost as wide as the Mersey Tunnel just before the hour mark.  Vladimir Smicer had darted down the left before sliding the ball into the box for Fowler to chase.  As Gough challenged, Fowler fell to earth and the Liverpool fans called again for a penalty and this time their pleas were given a sympathetic hearing by Winter.

Poor Gough, whose only intention had been to play the ball, was booked by Winter.  Fowler, hoping to add insult to perceived iniquity, placed the ball on the spot, stepped back, ran forward and curled the ball against a post and out, much to Everton's relief.

To their great credit, Everton stormed back down the other end.  Biscan, already cautioned for his foul on Ball, went 13 minutes from time for diving in on Unsworth.  The Everton player was then fortunate not to concede a penalty when he caught Smicer but Winter, bizarrely, waved play on.

He did award a penalty with seven minutes left when Hyypia placed a less-than-fraternal arm around Ferguson when leaping for a throw.  Unsworth drilled in the penalty.

With four minutes left, Gerrard produced a marvellous save to deny Hyypia.  But then came McAllister.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 McAllister delivers the final blow
by Oliver Kay, The Times
THE historical notion of the friendly derby, of two sides united in celebration of Merseyside football, lost further credence last night as an acrimonious encounter of 12 yellow cards, one sending-off and countless other moments of controversy was settled in suitably contentious fashion by a free kick from Gary McAllister in the final minute that rekindled Liverpools hopes of claiming a Champions League place by finishing third in the FA Carling Premiership. 

It has long been a source of irritation for any Scouser, whatever his persuasion, to listen to the patronising and out-dated guff that surrounds this fixture.  The 77th-minute dismissal of Igor Biscan, for what was supposedly a second bookable offence, was the fifth in the Merseyside clubs past four encounters, but that was not even the most glaring example of the newfound sense of enmity that exists between the two clubs.

From the failure of a minority of Everton supporters to observe a minutes silence to mark the twelfth anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, it was an unsavoury atmosphere.  While, in terms of malice, there was little that will call for the intervention of the FAs disciplinary department, the sheer number of ugly incidents was alarming.  Even with 13 different nationalities represented on the pitch at various stages, local bragging rights were contested with an unremitting aggression.

Ultimately, Liverpools need was marginally the greater, given the impact that their exertions in the various cup competitions has had on their Premiership form of late, and, thanks to McAllisters quick-thinking and impeccable execution, it was a need that was well served.  Grard Houlliers team twice surrendered the lead, and missed a second-half penalty through Robbie Fowler, but their more positive performance just about made them deserving winners.

Nevertheless, Everton had good reason to feel aggrieved.  After a less than comfortable evening for Jeff Winter, one of the countrys most experienced referees, the home team could point to any number of decisions that went against them from a handball by Jamie Carragher in the build-up to Liverpools opening goal to the yards that McAllister stole before embarrassing Paul Gerrard with the winner deep into stoppage time and the likelihood of a 25,000 fine from the FA, after they had six different players cautioned, is unlikely to soften the blow of this defeat. 

Liverpool, though, would have had even greater grounds for complaining had their class not told in the end.  The penalty that was converted by David Unsworth in the 83rd minute, after a harmless aerial collision between Sami Hyypia and Duncan Ferguson, was an even greater injustice than the one Fowler squandered at the other end on the hour, while Houllier was at a loss to explain quite what Biscan had done to merit a second yellow card.

Dont ask me to comment on the match incidents, the Liverpool manager said.  We have to live with that.  I thought it was harsh to send off Biscan because I dont think he even touched the player for his second booking.  Even at 2-2 there was a foul on Gregory Vignal for a penalty that I thought was a bit dodgy, but we won so we will just shut up.  As no-comments go, it was quite revealing.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, was similarly disappointed by the referees performance.  At the end of the game, like all local derbies, it was a bit frantic, he said.  I dont think there was anything too untoward in the game or any real malice in any of the challenges, but I think there were one or two contentious decisions for either side.

If the visiting team showed marginally better quality throughout, Everton were justified in feeling a little hard-done-by.  They fought back well after going behind in the fifth minute, when the first of many Liverpool counter-attacks ended with Emile Heskey beating Gerrard for his 21st goal of the season, and deservedly equalised shortly before the interval when Ferguson drove home a loose ball.

Markus Babbel put Liverpool back in front 12 minutes into the second half after another impressive counter-attack.  Dietmar Hamanns pass sent Fowler down the left and, although the forwards low cross narrowly eluded Vladimir Smicer, it fell perfectly for the defender.  It was then that the fun and games really began, with Fowler hitting a penalty against a post after Richard Gough was harshly deemed to have fouled him.

With eight minutes left, and with Liverpool reduced to ten men, Unsworth showed Fowler how it should be done, but Houllliers team were not to be denied.  They put aside the injustice of another unsuccessful penalty appeal to claim their first victory at Goodison Park since 1990 when McAllisters 40-yard free kick bounced under the reach of Gerrard.

I thought we deserved to win, Houllier said. To be honest, I enjoyed it.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
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