Steven Gerrard’s late winner at Pride Park spared Liverpool the embaressment of being held by the Premier League‘s bottom club. Gerrard scored in the dying minutes after Derby had equalised Fernando Torres’ early brilliant opener.
Match Report [BBC]
Steven Gerrard’s last-gasp goal spared Liverpool’s blushes at lowly Derby. Fernando Torres’ superb goal had given Liverpool an early lead as the Spaniard scored after beating two defenders.
But Liverpool failed to take a number of chances and Jay McEveley sent an angled shot past Jose Reina to equalise midway through the second half.
Gerrard then crashed the ball against the bar, but with time running out the Liverpool captain was on hand to score after Lewis Price saved from Torres.
Gerrard had had a relatively quiet game before the Derby equaliser, but he came into his own as Liverpool searched for the winner.
Liverpool had beaten Derby 6-0 earlier in the season and once Torres put them ahead on 12 minutes the visitors should have extended their advantage by the interval.
Jamie Carragher and Ryan Babel had reasonable chances, while Torres and John Arne Riise were thwarted by some well-timed tackles.
Derby had come close to winning at Newcastle on Sunday and had it not been for Gerrard they might have won for the first time under manager Paul Jewell.
The Derby manager had lost first-choice goalkeeper Stephen Bywater in the warm-up after he aggravated a shoulder injury and Stephen Pearson was another casualty to emerge from this game.
With Liverpool already ahead thanks to Torres’ goal, the Scot dislocated his shoulder as both he and Darren Moore went for the same ball.
For the last 15 minutes Derby were virtually playing with 10 men, when having brought on all three substiutes, Rob Earnshaw was unable to contribute after he injured his calf.
Moore played a less than distinguished role in Liverpool’s opener as Torres managed to push the ball through the Derby defender’s legs.
Having established plenty of momentum, Torres eased his way past Dean Leacock before curling a shot past Bywater’s replacement Price into the corner of the net.
Liverpool’s Spanish striker was soon streaking away from the Derby defence, though this time McEveley denied Torres with a saving tackle.
Tyrone Mears proved just as diligent as he slid in to take the ball away from Riise as the Norwegian burst clear.
Derby’s best two first-half chances fell to Giles Barnes, who almost reached Gary Teale’s cross with Reina stranded.
And in first-half stoppage time Barnes worked some space just outside the Liverpool box only to miscue with his shot.
Derby made a postive start after the break and Teale’s beautifully weighted pass freed Kenny Miller, who was let down by his first touch.
But Derby were rewarded for their more upbeat approach when Lewis’ free-kick pinged around the Liverpool box before McEveley pounced to shoot past Reina.
Liverpool peppered Price’s goals with shots but the Derby goalkeeper produced a couple of excellent saves from Fabio Aurelio and Xabi Alonso.
Barnes then missed with a close-range header, while Gerrard crashed a shot against the crossbar.
But Gerrard came to Liverpool’s rescue as he prodded home after Price had made a reaction save to deny Torres and McEveley could only steer the ball into the path of the Reds captain.
Derby: Price, Mears, Leacock, Moore (Feilhaber 46), McEveley, Teale (Earnshaw 56), Barnes, Pearson (Johnson 26), Lewis, Howard, Miller.
Subs Not Used: Hinchliffe, Fagan.
Goals: McEveley 67.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia (Benayoun 54), Carragher, Riise, Babel (Kuyt 72), Gerrard, Alonso, Aurelio, Torres, Voronin (Lucas 90).
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Mascherano.
Goals: Torres 12, Gerrard 90.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)
Stats: (Derby – Liverpool)
Possession: 44% – 56%
Shots on target: 4 – 10
Shots off target: 5 – 12
Corners: 2 – 7
Fouls: 9 – 9