Liverpool 1-0 Everton: Match Report
After 13 rounds of Premier League football without a single defeat, the day at the start of December finally came when Liverpool welcomed Everton to Anfield in what was to be the first Merseyside Derby of the season.
It’s fair to say the Blues have had a good season too. They came into this game sitting in 6th place – ahead of Manchester United on goal-difference. Since taking over, manager Marco Silva has established a more proactive approach to football in their team, something we hadn’t seen for a while from them.
Liverpool, on the other hand, still wore the sour taste of the Paris defeat in their mouths, and facing Everton was perhaps the best chance to bounce back.
Jurgen Klopp was without captain Jordan Henderson who was booked twice and consequentially sent off in the previous round at Watford. Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Dominic Solanke and Kamil Grabara were all left out for the Paris trip for different reasons, and the manager had revealed in his pre-match press conference that there was a number of knocks picked up in the Champions League game on Wednesday. This was the team that he chose for the Derby:
On the other hand, Silva had a full squad to choose from and went with the following names:
The First Half
Liverpool pushed forward from the start, even earning a corner after 40 seconds, but the Toffees held out and pushed forward themselves. Trent gave away a foul wide in the fourth minute, Sigurdsson swung it in and Mina came very close with a free headed after he managed to get away from Trent and Van Dijk, but he missed the top corner by an inch.
Everton were buoyed by the early chance and they tried to keep the ball and attack in numbers, but they didn’t find it easy. Eventually, the Reds took matters into their own hands and started threatening.
Seven minutes were gone when the Reds stole the ball, Mane played a nice combo with Fabinho and released Trent on the right, but Trent’s cross was blocked.
Mo Salah seemed rather inspired as he tried time and again to run at the Everton defence, but they were taking him very seriously and kept him under close attention all the time. With 10 minutes gone, a great move involving Trent, Fabinho and Salah on the right enabled Shaqiri to look for Mane on the far post, but Mane couldn’t reach it. Sixty seconds later Salah chipped a great pass over for Mane but he volleyed it over the bar. Then it was Trent’s turn to hoof it long looking for the run of Mane and he found him, but Pickford was out quickly and did well to deny him.
In the 15th minute, Richarlison did well do win a foul off Van Dijk on the half way line and it was an opportunity for the Blues to get higher up again, but they messed it up quickly.
However, a minute later the striker did well again, helped by Walcott, to win the ball and the pair of them charged forward. In the end, Richarlison got past Van Dijk inside the box, but then he lost his footing and stumbled to the ground.
Then it was Liverpool’s turn again. Salah charged to the right and pulled it back for Firmino who produced a great first touch, turned and shot low, but he failed to hit the target. The next attack was ruined, however, by Mane’s obvious attempt at controlling the ball with his arm.
But in the 20th minute, Everton had the best chance of the game up to that point. Bernard whipped in a cross from the left towards the far post, Walcott sent it back into the middle, Gomes flew through the air and hit the target from five yards, and Alisson made an incredible save. In the scramble that followed, Gomez stopped the ball from going in on the very line.
A minute before the half-hour mark, Firmino burned the palms of Pickford from range, and then Gomez again did very well to stop Richarlison on the counterattack on the edge of the box.
Three minutes later, Shaqiri, whose game had been far too quiet up to that point, produced a fantastic pass for Salah, but Mina and Digne stopped the Egyptian with a joint effort. Shaqiri then failed to restart the attack and got booked for stopping a counterattack with a foul, before being excellently set up for a one-on-one with Pickford by Fabinho and Salah. But Pickford came out, read his mind and saved his shot.
Walcott had an equally good chance at the other end, but Van Dijk did well to put him off-balance and make him miscontrol the pass.
Pickford was again called into action six minutes before the break as a good pass from Shaqiri had him rushing out of his box to get there before Salah and Mane.
Towards the end of the half, Liverpool mostly had the ball and looked to create an opening in the Everton back line for one of the front three to exploit, but the Toffees were quick to close them down with organized defending and look for a way to get the ball up straight away.
The Second Half
Salah had a go from 20 yards in the 48th minute, but he just missed the bottom corner. Two minutes later, Firmino and Salah pulled a quick attack down the left, Salah then involved Wijnaldum who changed the side and found Trent, but Trent’s cutback was inaccurate. Then Firmino’s lovely pass and Salah’s smart movement opened up a huge chance for Mane, but the Senegalese incredibly missed the target.
It was better football from the Reds in opening period of the second half. They seemed more composed, and pushed their neighbours harder. In the 59th minute, Mane combined well with Salah, got the ball back and smacked it from 20 yards, just missing the far post. As Everton went forward in numbers again, Firmino helped Mane start a counterattack, Salah escaped down the left and got the ball but the flag was up. It was interesting to see Shaqiri moving forward down the right side, but looking extremely leisurely and offering Mane no option that way.
In the 63rd minute, Silva pulled out Walcott who had gone rather quiet, and sent on Ademola Lookman.
Everton tried to attack at this point, and apart a few runs down the right by Coleman, they couldn’t produce anything to trouble the Reds properly. However, in the 66th minute Liverpool’s defending left a lot to be desired as Bernard was left alone to shoot from 20 yards, but he couldn’t get it near the target.
And as the game went on, the Blues grew into it more, it was time for Klopp to act. Shaqiri made way for Naby Keita, and soon Salah also left pitch and Daniel Sturridge came on.
The game was in fine balance at this point, and as Everton looked to move forward quickly in the 77th minute, Fabinho earned a booking for catching Richarlison rather late.
The visitors then pushed forward really hard. They controlled both the ball and most of the pitch, and the Reds seemed a bit nervous and unable to get a hold of themselves. With 10 minutes remaining, Gomez was also forced to stop Richarlison by illegal means and got his name in the book too. Liverpool defended the set-piece really well and Fabinho released Firmino on a counterattack, but the Brazilian took too long to make his mind up and eventually messed it up. In the 84th minute, Divock Origi replaced him on the pitch.
The next several minutes thoroughly belonged to Liverpool, but they couldn’t really threaten until the 87th minute when Origi broke down the right and looked for Mane in the middle, but the Everton defence reacted well. Origi was a danger again after Van Dijk headed the ensuing corner is way, but it fell awkwardly for him and he only managed to hit the crossbar.
Silva’s late idea was to try and snatch the game by introducing a fresh striker, and in the 89th minute Dominic Calvert-Lewin replaced Bernard, right before Kurt Zouma came on for Sigurdsson to add some power to the back as well.
Two minutes into the stoppage time, Sturridge danced around Gomes and into the box, fooled Coleman and tried to set himself up, but he was eventually muscled off the ball by the backtracking Richarlison.
Nothing really suggested anything special was in store for the end of this game, but it so often happens in football, especially in derbies, that special things come unannounced, and unlikely heroes step up.
Four minutes of stoppage time were initially given. However, there have been a few breaks in play after the 90 had gone, and as referee Christopher Kavanagh obviously decided to add another 60 seconds, the last piece of action was to be a Liverpool free-kick, some 10 yards in their own half and wide on the right.
Alisson suddenly came up and took it short to give Trent a better angle to send a long cross in. It somehow fell for Van Dijk on the edge of the box, and the Dutchman sliced it awkwardly, certainly not the way he intended. It went high up and goalwards, bounced off the bar and back into play, utterly confusing Pickford and finding the head of the unobstructed Origi, half a yard from the goal-line. Hardly had any striker scored a goal this easy, and yet so sweet – right at the Kop End.
Kavanagh allowed one more minute for Everton to try and get something at the other end, but it was in vain.
We won the Derby. With a 95th-minute winner. At the Kop End. It doesn’t get any better than that.
That aside, once again it was an underwhelming performance from Klopp’s men, and Everton will certainly feel hard done by with this piece of bad luck at the end. It was a game in which not much, if anything really, separated the two sides, and while it feels that a draw would have been a fair result, we’ll take what we can get and see where it gets us.
Merseyside is Red.
Next up – Burnley.
We Walk On.