A stunning stoppage-time goal from Phil Jagielka earned Everton a point against Liverpool at Anfield, with Steven Gerrard’s second-half free-kick initially giving the Reds the lead.
Liverpool 1-1 Everton
Premier League / Anfield / Saturday, 27th September 2014
Goals: Gerrard (64); Jagielka (90)
By Henry Jackson
The 223rd Merseyside derby was as anticipated as ever, and with both Liverpool and Everton struggling for consistency so far this season, it was a match that was impossible to predict.
Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 to West Ham in last weekend’s Premier League clash, with Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic coming in for the disappointing Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini.
The game got off to a typically ferocious start, with Gareth Bally clattering into the lively Lallana within the first minute. Raheem Sterling tested Tim Howard with the first effort of note, while both sides had early penalty appeals turned down- Everton for a foul by Alberto Moreno on Romelu Lukaku, and Liverpool for a handball by Barry. On another day either could have been given.
Mario Balotelli’s free-kick forced Howard into a good save, and from the resulting corner the American made an even better stop from Lallana’s header.
The visitors grew into the match, with Lukaku’s effort from range their first meaningful attempt after 20 minutes, and Leighton Baines almost finding the Belgian in front of goal soon after.
Henderson produced a good strike from the edge of the box, while Moreno and Javier Manquillo both almost found Balotelli in the middle within a couple of minutes of each other. Sterling then forced Howard into another good stop after fine work by the excellent Jordan Henderson.
A feisty first-half came to an end with both sides still searching for the opening goal of the game. The Reds had been the better side, but there was threat about the Toffees on the counter-attack.
Roberto Martinez’s side started the second-half well, enjoying far more possession than they did at any point in the opening 45 minutes. Aiden McGeady looked far from dangerous than before the interval too, testing Marquillo, who dealt well with him in general.
The Reds struggled once more to reach their top level, and Markovic, in particular, was largely anonymous throughout. He was replaced by the returning Philippe Coutinho on the hour mark.
After 64 minutes, Steven Gerrard silenced all those who had been criticising him in recent weeks. The 34-year-old bent a wonderful free-kick past Howard to send Anfield into raptures, and his celebrations showed exactly what he thought of his detractors. It was his 10th derby goal.
Balotelli hit the bar from close-range soon after, while Henderson fired straight at Howard. The introduction of Coutinho made a big difference.
With 20 minutes remaining, the game was perfectly poised for a nervy finish. McGeady and substitute Samuel Eto’o both fired into the Kop, but Everton really struggled to create anything of note.
Just as it looked as though Liverpool had earned all three points, Phil Jagielka’s stunning strike from 30 yards stunned the home faithful. A win was deserved, but the Reds had to settle for a frustrating point in the end.
Man of the Match: Jordan Henderson
Rodgers opted for the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lallana in the number 10 role and Markovic and Sterling on the flanks. There was a good understanding between the two Engishman, but the young Serbia star struggled all afternoon.
The slight lack of mobility from Balotelli in attack continued to be something of an issue, and although the 24-year-old was far from poor, Liverpool missed Daniel Sturridge‘s pace and movement again.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Markovic (Coutinho 60), Sterling, Balotelli (Lambert 88)
Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Suso.
Everton starting XI: Howard, Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, Stones, Barry, McCarthy, Besic, Mirallas, Naismith, Lukaku