The television executives have doubted the power of the Merseyside derby to thrill and entertain in recent years but if the goalless edition at Anfield in March had provided supporting evidence, this pulsating first all-Merseyside clash of the post-David Moyes era at Everton showed that his meeting between two old rivals still delivers.
Last season's Goodison derby was a rollocking affair that had offered up four goals before half time as the teams played out a 2-2 draw but that was surpassed today by a game that almost everything – passion, drama, full-blooded challenges, six goals and, thankfully, no red cards, although Kevin Mirallas should have received his marching orders for an ugly, if fully-deserved, studs-up challenge on Luis Suarez in the first half.
For Everton, having benefited from Phil Dowd's cool head (if only for not being swayed by fourth official, Martin Atkinson, the villain of the 2011 Goodison derby) and roared back from behind to lead 3-2, this was a massively disappointing draw. Three goal conceded weakly from set-pieces proved to be their undoing, most crushingly after Romelu Lukaku had powered home his second goal to give them the chance at pricless victory.
Substitute Daniel Sturridge proved to be the recipient of slack marking as he steered a Steven Gerrard free kick past Tim Howard in the 89th minute and Roberto Martinez had to be content with a point from his first derby experience.
Though question marks over his defence's frailty from dead-ball situations will dominate the aftermath of this game, the Spaniard deserves credit for a positive approach to this game, both in terms of initial selection – Ross Barkley was rightly reinstated to the starting line-up in place of Leon Osman and the youngster was electric for much of the contest – and his substitutions. When Leighton Baines was forced off through injury five minutes after half time, he introduced Gerard Deulofeu and deployed Gareth Barry at left back.
The result was enough clear-cut chances to win the game handily and but for some disappointing finishing and an inspired display by Simon Mignolet, the Blues would surely be toasting victory this afternoon.
The game kicked off in frentic fashion, more evocative of derbies past than the more recent editions, albeit without the usual dangerous, borderline-legal challenges that often set the tone of these occasions – they would come later.
Everton, unfortunately, shot themselves in the foot at the first corner of the game, Baines allowing Suarez to out-muscle him as the ball came in and that allowed it to come through to Coutinho who had the freedom of Goodison at the back post where he prodded home.
The Blues' reaction was to take the game by the scruff of the neck, though, and hit back almost immediately from a set-piece of their own. Seamus Coleman floated in a free-kick, Barkley knocked the ball down and Mirallas stabbed home at the back post. 1-1.
Having steadied the ship, Everton then retained control of proceedings and set about trying to break Brendan Rogers' side down again. Lukaku was almost put in on goal by the lively Steven Pienaar but Mignolet got just enough on the ball to deflect it back onto the marauding Belgian's leg and it ricocheted behind for a goal kick.
Barkley was scintillating going forward at times for the home side and looked the most likely player in Blue to carve Liverpool open and, in the midst of a promising spell of possession, it looked like Martinez's men had the platform on which to turn the screw and find a goal that would have put them ahead.
Instead, it was more self-sobatage at the back that saw the reds re-take the lead. Attempts to pass their way out from the back had produced mixed results in the first quarter hour with insufficient movement from the likes of Barry and James McCarthy to show for the pass. One such incident saw possession gifted to Liverpool in midfield and on the resulting attack, Barry tripped Suarez in a dangerous area.
Anyone who had seen any of the Uruguayan's highlight reel knew exactly where the free kick was going and yet Everton left a crucial gap in the defensive wall between Baines and Pienaar and Suarez exploited it with deadly accuracy, Howard diving in vain as the ball crept inside the post.
It was wholly against the run of play but though Everton would edge possession for the remainder of the half, they struggled to carve open another clearer chance until Mignolet, seeing it late, tipped Barkley's shot around the post at the last moment with 20 minutes gone. Mirallas then drifted a right footer across the Liverpool goal and Barkley dipped one over as the Blues tried their luck from distance.
It was around the half-hour mark that the home faithful got the welcome sight of Suarez hobbling badly following a collision with Phil Jagielka and signalling to his bench that he probably couldn't continue. He was already a passenger at this point but Mirallas decided to exact some revenge for the Uruguayan cheat's cynical stamp on him here last season by clatting through him with his studs planted firmly on Suarez's knee. The Belgian was hugely fortunate to only pick up a yellow card and he would go on to add an assist to his goal in the second half.
If the first period had fizzled out from Everton's perspective, the second was much more promising from an attacking point of view, particularly once Deulofeu had added more counter-attacking threat. The Spaniard suffered a bout of stage fright within five minutes of coming on, though, when he was put clean through on a lightning break but he fired straight at Mignolet who had raced out to close him down.
More slack defending at the other end, almost put the game beyond the Blues on the hour mark, though. Liverpool carved them right open and Joe Allen was presented with the reds' third goal on a platter but he somehow side-footed wide with the goal gaping either side of Howard.
Everton kept up their momentum in the attacking third, though, and great, determined work by Lukaku ended with the striker being thwarted once more by his international teammate, Mignolet, the 'keeper stopping his goal-bound shot with an out-stretched arm as he rushed out to close down the angle.
Lukaku would best his compatriot just a few minutes later, though. With Baines off the pitch, the on-loan forward elected to take a 25-plus-yard free kick himself and though Mignolet beat away his smashed effort, Everton kept the ball, worked it down the left side of the box and Mirallas cut it back where McCarthy's out-stretched leg pushed it on to Lukaku and he side-footed home via the goalkeeper's glove.
A great chance to take the lead then evaporated when Lukaku wasted a three-on-two break by ignoring Mirallas who was completely open on his left and rolled the ball inside straight to a red shirted defender and Mignolet again had to be at his best to deny Deulofeu as he greedily eschewed the cut-back in favour of a shot at the near post.
It was the Barcelona teenager's jinking run along the byline – and refusal, again, the cut the ball back into the danger zone – that forced the corner from which Everton took the lead for the first time in the game. Lukaku rose ahead of Glenn Johnson to meet the delivery from the Blues' left and powered an unstoppable header into the net to send the Gwladys Street into bedlam.
There was to be one more frustrating defensive lapse, though, with less than two minutes remaining. Distin raised an unnecessary boot on a Liverpool player in the left-back position conceding a needless free kick in a dangerous area and Steven Gerrard, as usual, took license with the placement of the set-piece before despatching it onto the head of Sturridge who did the rest.
So, much to admire and much to rue in the final reckoning of what was a cracking game of football, albeit one whose thrills are dulled to a large degree by Evertonian frustration that we couldn't hold on at the end. To give up the two points that would have brought us level in the table with Liverpool was desperately disappointing but defeat was, at least, avoided.
Importantly, though it took a while, the Blues have rediscovered some of their attacking Mojo and it was pleasing to see Lukaku back on the goal trail with two really well-taken efforts. Additionally, while a couple of slips too close to his own area and his propensity to over-elaborate in the opposition third, Deulofeu showed that he is capable of playing in the same team as Mirallas. The Belgian, meanwhile, looked a good deal more threatening when gven the license to operate across the front with Lukaku rather than pinned to the touchline.
That will bode well for the upcoming challenges against Manchester United and Arsenal, of course, but there will rightly be concern about the manner in which those three goals were conceded.
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743 Posted 23/11/2013 at 20:35:01
763 Posted 23/11/2013 at 23:01:40
764 Posted 23/11/2013 at 23:05:14
766 Posted 23/11/2013 at 23:20:25
768 Posted 23/11/2013 at 23:33:12
774 Posted 23/11/2013 at 23:36:50
Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
Naismith (85' Oviedo) Osman Neville :45+2'
Mirallas (46' Gueye) Fellaini
Subs not used:
Mucha, Hibbert, Heitinga, Hitzlsperger, Vellios.
Unavailable: Pienaar (Suspended), Gibson (injured), Barkley (on loan), Bidwell (on loan)
That was the team selected for last season's meeting at Goodison Park with the other lot; very different in midfield and up front – of course Pienaar couldn't play due to suspension.
But give me today's team any day of the week – less the set-piece goals of course,
794 Posted 24/11/2013 at 01:26:38
Phil Friedman (768), that's got to be the biggest Osman stretch ever... might as well blame him for the weather. Just because the goal followed the substitution doesn't mean the substitution was to blame for the goal. Neither Naismith nor Mirallas could have done more to prevent it.
100% of the blame for that goal goes to Distin and his ridiculous challenge. How such an intelligent player can suddenly turn into a blockhead every time we play the RS is beyond me.
801 Posted 24/11/2013 at 02:54:32
803 Posted 24/11/2013 at 03:40:54
807 Posted 24/11/2013 at 04:08:14
809 Posted 24/11/2013 at 04:15:23
824 Posted 24/11/2013 at 07:55:37
I particularly agree with the point about Mirallas carrying more threat when given freedom to come in from the touchline.
After moaning about full-backs not attacking all season, I was delighted to see Coleman driving into their box even at the death. Much happier with Martinez today and feeling far more optimistic about going to OT.
If Robbie didn’t bollock the living daylights out of his defenders for lapses of concentration, that would have been the only thing he got wrong yesterday.
I just heard Brendan saying it would have been interesting to see what happened if Suarez had made the tackle on Mirallas ... short memory. I’ve never been an advocate of dirty play and I didn’t want to set the grandson a bad example, but once I saw the card wasn’t red, I clenched my fist in my pocket and sat back feeling a very warm glow of satisfaction.
825 Posted 24/11/2013 at 08:26:27
Watching the match live on BT Sport: Barkley blatantly dived and was rightly booked. Someone should have a strong word with him and tell him to not blight his career with such antics. Does he want to be viewed as Suarez is?
Mirallas was lucky not to be sent off for his 'tackle' on Suarez. Replayed several times and it was very, very bad.
The Liverpool physio appeared to have a lot to say about it but then so did Garrard et al. No surprise there and in view of the time Phil Dowd took to pull out any card and the ear bashing the Reds were giving him, Mirallas has even more cause to feel lucky.
828 Posted 24/11/2013 at 08:36:57
I'm biased so I will say from the start, we were the better team, the RS relied too much on Sewerage, and to be fair he was their best player.
As I've mentioned on another thread on this site, our defending of set pieces, has to be addressed, poor organisation, surely Roberto will show the team the video of the game & smack arses.
Next up Stoke, and as for football we should see them off, but only if our defenders, learn from yesterday, as Stoke rely on corners etc, because of the size of the players.
The pace of our new, Little Spaniard Deulofeu, will rape them, but with better finishing than yesterday.
829 Posted 24/11/2013 at 08:58:44
We played with bravery that was alien to Moyes in these fixtures, we went toe to toe with them and showed no fear. I hope Martinez has won over some doubters with his approach to this game, one we traditionally collapse in. I actually can't wait for the Anfield one now, and that feels alien to say - as I nearly bottled watching it yesterday.
832 Posted 24/11/2013 at 09:09:12
I'm glad Martinez is playing him and I really rate the lad but I think John Stones looked a bag of nerves out there yesterday. Only natural perhaps but I thought he was poor considering all the talent he has.
843 Posted 24/11/2013 at 10:23:19
Another classic quote from Rodgers to go with the one mentioned above "Sometimes Luis rolls about a bit but gets up quickly, so I knew it was a reasonably bad one for him to stay down for so long."...........you couldn't make it up.
870 Posted 24/11/2013 at 12:45:35
Mirallas is not a dirty player, that foul was unintentional, done in the heat of battle and only grazed the rear of Ratboy's leg. Ratboy then gave us 5 minutes of rolling around in agony, play acting, trying to get our boy sent off. Even his Red nurse couldn't find anything wrong leading to Brenda arguing with him. Ten minutes later, he was running around like nothing had happened, the lying little shit.
Our defending of set pieces has given us cause for worry before and yesterday the Reds were primed to take advantage and did so. We were crap. Worse than that, we never once learned anything from it... Alcaraz is fit just in time.
Full marks must go to Barkley, Lukaku, Coleman, Pienaar, Barry, Baines, McCarthy and Howard. Our defenders need some training ground revision and it is no good thinking that Stones is an answer. When he came on, he was shitting himself with fear and frozen to the spot. Utterly useless.
Overall, two points lost really by our own frailties rather than a point hard won. But so exciting. It was great to see decent passing once more and a dangerous tempo and by god we showed we've got guts.
886 Posted 24/11/2013 at 14:03:35
Let's remember it for what it was a classic derby, one to remember and my " if only" is if we had scored the final goal we would be far more content with a draw. For some reason you are always happier when you come from behind to draw and yet it makes no difference to the points gained or they way you have played.
Well done RM and although I was a fan of Mr Moyes, we would've settled for the draw under his guidance and not continued to try and take the game to them for 90-plus minutes. Last year's derby springs to mind when we come from 2-0 down to draw level by half-time and shut up shop in the second half..
We are not going to win the Premier League but it's great to be in the mix and looking to progress.
891 Posted 24/11/2013 at 13:58:17
But why do so many come on here to highlight the negatives, it's not as though ANY performance will ever be perfect? And blaming the loss of two points on Ossie really takes the biscuit!
Yesterday changed my mind on a number of issues regarding Roberto and our kid said I was beginning to sound like Doddy on the way home. Easy now, Dickie Lad!
900 Posted 24/11/2013 at 15:38:05
The wall could have been better placed and it was a soft free kick to give away, but without a superbly executed shot and header they wouldn't have necessarily led to goals.
The poorest bit of defensive play was letting Coutinho get free for their first, which was simply a lapse of concentration.
902 Posted 24/11/2013 at 15:39:51
I can't believe I missed the game because of work commitments but my old man watched it on BT and said it took him back to Catterick's days. He says that, whilst he rates Romelu, he's not a patch on Big Joe Royle at his best!
We could have slipped down to seventh by 6pm tonight but we're still going in the right direction under Roberto.
928 Posted 24/11/2013 at 16:32:49
934 Posted 24/11/2013 at 17:50:02
935 Posted 24/11/2013 at 17:41:27
I do agree with the suggestion that a player with a reputation would probably have been punished more severely, but that is just life isn't it?
938 Posted 24/11/2013 at 17:52:47
True they will.
But as the same media have conveniently forgotten the many many many injustices that have come our way over the years - FUCK THEM!
Dirk Kuyt's kung-fu kick should have seen him sent off and banned for 10 games.
He was given a yellow card.
Fact, we've had decades of bent refs, shit-house decisions and cheating rat-faced shit-bags.
They continue to be outraged by everything and ashamed of nothing, so fuck them too.
005 Posted 24/11/2013 at 20:58:05
I say in either '77 or '78 on New Year's Day we played Nottm Forest away when we were both riding high. In fact, I'd say 1st and 2nd... could be wrong — and we drew one-all. Both goals were penalties — ours by Trevor Ross; theirs by John Robertson.
Now there's 20 quid riding on this. My mate says we lost one-nil. I'm 100 per cent it was one-all. Come on, please, settle it!
012 Posted 24/11/2013 at 21:36:13
Mon Jan 2 1978 Div 1 A Nottm Forest D 1 - 1 44,030 Ross T (pen) Pos: 2nd
So close... but not New Year's Day.
040 Posted 24/11/2013 at 22:22:19
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