Brazilian Derby Debuts
Sunday’s clash against Everton marks the first Merseyside derby of the season. Barring any injury between now and then, Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson is odds on to make his derby debut. Also, with captain Jordan Henderson suspended following his sending off against Watford last weekend, Alisson’s fellow Brazilian Fabinho may also play against the Toffees.
But how have former Brazilian’s performed when making their derby debuts? Today, I take a look back at how former Brazilian Liverpool players performed in their first Merseyside derbies.
The first ever Brazilian to have signed for Liverpool, Aurelio joined the club in the summer of 2006 linking back up with his former Valencia manager Rafa Benitez. Despite being at the club for six seasons, the left-back only featured in five Merseyside derbies. His first was in the worst Liverpool performance against Everton in the Premier League era; a 3-0 defeat at Goodison Park, with Aurelio playing in a back four alongside Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. The Sao Paulo academy graduate played the full 90 minutes in a game that’s best remembered for Pepe Reina’s comical mistake from Lee Carsley’s shot. Rather than push the ball over the crossbar, the Spaniard palmed the ball straight into the path of Andy Johnson who gratefully headed in Everton’s third. The result was the largest defeat to Everton since 1964.
A Kop cult hero, Lucas played in a total of 17 Merseyside derbies during his ten-year spell at the club. Lucas made his Merseyside derby debut and also his Premier League debut at Goodison in October 2007. With the scores tied at 1-1 and with 20 minutes to play, Benitez made the questionable decision of sending a 20-year-old Lucas on in place of captain Steven Gerrard. With Gerrard, and most of the Liverpool fans around the world bemused by Rafa’s decision, Liverpool pushed on searching for a late winner against the ten men of Everton. In the 90th minute, a Dirk Kuyt effort was fumbled by Tim Howard into the path of the young Brazilian. Just 8-yards-out, Lucas’ goalbound effort was palmed away brilliantly by the left arm of…..Phil Neville. Referee Mark Clattenburg pointed to the spot, sending Neville off in the process. For the second time that day, Dutchman Dirk Kuyt stepped up and delivered when it mattered most in the derby, giving Liverpool a 2-1 victory. Kuyt’s five derby goals are a record for non-British players in the Merseyside derby (alongside Tim Cahill).
The third and most skillful Brazilian to play for Liverpool in a derby, Coutinho faced Everton on nine separate occasions during his short tenure on Merseyside. His first appearance occurred in one of the least memorable derbies in recent years, a 0-0 draw at Anfield on the 5th May 2013, the seventh of nine 0-0 Merseyside derby draws in the Premier League era. The current Barcelona man played the full 90 minutes in a game that Liverpool were fortunate not to lose. Everton defender Sylvain Distin thought he had scored from a Leighton Baines corner in the second half; however referee Michael Oliver gave a foul against Victor Anichebe for a very soft infringement on Pepe Reina. The game marked Jamie Carragher’s 30th and final derby appearance.
There have been fewer one-sided Merseyside derby games in history than Liverpool’s 4-0 demolition of Everton in April 2017. The game marked both Jurgen Klopp and Roberto Firmino’s derby debuts and came just a week after the incredible victory against Dortmund in the Europa League. Liverpool’s number nine played 66 minutes of the match before being replaced by Brendan Rodgers favourite Joe Allen. In total, The Red’s had 37 shots in the game with 13 on target. Their nine corners to Everton’s one again highlights the gulf in class between the two sides that night. The only low point of the game saw Divock Origi stretchered off following a horror challenge from Argentine Ramiro Funes Mori. Prior to that injury, Origi had scored five in his last five and, due to the importance of Firmino, has never had the opportunity to string a series of starts together since.