Everton Kop it late again – View from the Kop
VIEW FROM the Kop – Everton
It is one of those matches that will be revisited many times when the Merseyside Derby rolls back around as frustrations at mixed chances and relief at surviving a couple of close calls coupled with the away fans sending missiles raining down onto the pitch and a flare heading towards the disabled supporters section, meant the moment Divock Origi headed the winner in the added time of added time, purely due to Everton’s timewasting at the end of the game, was even more sweeter.
Derby weekend for me began with a trip to the Epstein theatre for an evening in conversation with former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar and Ex-Everton ‘keeper Neville Southall. The tales and impressions by Bruce were worth the trip alone as he mimicked such legendary managers as Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan whilst recounting his clown moniker coming from the Evertonian supporters on his Liverpool debut. The question posed to the pair from myself on their favourite Derby they had played in was met with a concrete answer that it was hard to pick one with Neville’s attempts to be funny claiming any win at Anfield and then his face was a picture, when I responded that it doesn’t happen that often. Both men were defiant in their belief that the 1989 FA Cup Final should not have been played, making it extremely clear the FA were adamant that the match had to be played when both teams and players were happy for the trophy to be shared between the 2 teams.
Sunday arrived and on the walk around the ground, I ran into former Red and current Wolves player Conor Coady as well as the lesser spotted Lazar Markovic who will almost certainly leave Liverpool next month or in June and will be a prominent in the top 10 worst signings in the history of the club. After climbing the stairs to the spec in Kop 304, it was time for the action to begin, all whilst watching the “spidercam” a camera suspended on wires attached to the corners of the stadium roof to offer interesting angles.
Everton came close to an early lead when Mina headed wide and he really should have done better but every time Liverpool attacked, there was the expectation that it would end up in the back of the net whether it was a tantalising ball into the front 3 or Shaqiri getting on the ball. Richarlison ensured he was going to be the pantomime villain as he appeared to lose his balance in the box, with some definitely perceiving him to be attempting to deceive the referee.
The chance came when Gini Wijnaldum used his strength to win the ball, allowing Andy Robertson to move inside and find Salah who chipped the ball through and allowed Sadio Mane to volley over when it looked like the net was about to bulge.
Everton came extremely close to scoring at Anfield when Liverpool were cut open and huge sighs of relief eventually were sounded when Gomes’ header was rebounded onto him and it looked like he would score a freak goal but Joe Gomez managed to clear it off the line although in the ground it actually looked further open with the possibility of whether goal line technology had been needed to not award the goal. Xherdan Shaqiri then had a chance to put Liverpool in front, only for Pickford to come out on top. 0-0 at the break and the feeling was that it would be a case of when Liverpool would score and not if.
The 2nd half saw the reds continuing to pressure and when Mo Salah picked the ball up just over 20 yards out, his left footed effort going narrowly wide before Sadio Mane again failed to convert when he was in a great position thanks to a lovely pass by Roberto Firmino, failing to even trouble the Everton goalkeeper. He then had a chance from good hold up play by Mo Salah firing wide again and it looked like he may end up stealing the story once again.
Everton’s 1st substitution saw Theo Walcott replaced and I hadn’t even noticed that he was on the pitch until he was replaced by Ademola Lookman, who I hadn’t realized was no longer out on loan. The frustrations throughout the game grew as the referee repeatedly penalised Liverpool for shoulder charges and Jordan Pickford continued to forget the basic rules of football needing reminding on more than 1 occasion that from a goal kick, the ball must leave the area to a team mate.
Liverpool’s first substitution saw Naby Keita and the usual response from sections around me about why Fabinho wasn’t the one replaced told me enough that they must have been watching a different game because for me I thought he was having a great game and definitely looked good during the 1st half, winning the ball countless times. With Sturridge and Origi introduced for Firmino and Salah, it was clear that Klopp seemed to be hunting for goals of derbies past with both men having netted multiple times v the Blues. Origi showed his pace and in a run down the right and looking for Mane in the centre but as Seamus Coleman made a last ditch tackle it fell for a corner. As Virgil Van Dijk headed towards the goal, Origi ended up turning the ball onto the crossbar although from the vantage point of mine, it looked as if Van Dijk’s effort was going in and Origi had prevented it although the TV angle may say something different.
As the chances came and went, I jokingly said to the guy next to me, it was all being set up for another Mane 90+4 winner like at Goodison 2 years ago, especially with Sadio being guilty of missing multiple chances and when the 4 minutes added time went up, anticipation grew that we were about to witness a grandstand finish. With scores of fans heading for the exits evidently forgetting the history of late winners in both the club and Merseyside derby matches, you just had to hope it was coming. Everton decided to try and be clever, making a late substitution following this and as time ebbed away, the referee took note to ensure sufficient time was allocated and it was that added time, where Liverpool would snatch victory.
After a coming together with Richarlison and Gomez, Evertonians decided to start sending missiles onto the pitch and then the recently introduced Kurt Zouma fouled Daniel Sturridge and as everybody bar Alexander-Arnold and Alisson went forward, it was now or never for Liverpool and as a blue flare went from the away section, seemingly celebrating a 0-0 draw, towards the disabled supporters section at the front of the Anfield Road stand, it was the Brazilian goalkeeper who charged towards the half way line and played the pass forward and Alexander-Arnold delivered a ball into the Everton area, the header cleared the ball but not far away and Van Dijk swiped at the ball and what followed seemed to unfold in slow-motion as the ball bounced off the bar away from Pickford’s grasp it fell to Divock Origi who caused absolute scenes in the Kop as he headed home to secure a priceless 3 points.
The jubilation in the Kop continued for several minutes and as the players came to applaud the supporters, there was one name ringing out, met with appreciation from the match winner himself. For Origi, one of his memories of the Merseyside Derby was his great run of form being halted by a disgusting challenge by Funes Mori. He may already have had Merseyside Derby goals to his name but none will come sweeter and for me, I’ve witnessed us pick up late winners and absolutely demolish Everton (4-0 on 2 occasions) but there’s nothing sweeter than picking up a victory in that fashion against those from across the park as their last victory on Anfield remains the opposite side of the millennium in 1999.