The immediate aftermath of a Merseyside derby officially branded ‘pulsating’ saw both sets of supporters trying to work out who was the most indignant with the final result.
Liverpool saw a perfectly good winning goal disallowed deep into injury time, scored by a player who could have had two red cards.
Everton are the better side, with a formidable home record, but they hamstrung themselves by conceding two early goals. The first came on 13 minutes when weak play from Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith down Everton’s right allowed José Enrique to fire a low cross along the six-yard line. It ran through to Luis Suarez who smashed the ball back the way it came, off the legs of Leighton Baines and into the Park End net.
The Uruguayan celebrated by diving in front of David Moyes, in response to the Everton manager’s pre-match comments about the way he cons referees. Moyes’s response afterwards was to make light of it. He also criticised his own captain, Phil Neville, for a rubbish dive that earned him a booking. Some other managers might have reacted a bit differently
Six minutes after the opener, Goodison was stunned again when Suarez lost his markers to wander into space and glance Steven Gerrard’s long free-kick past Tim Howard.
It just seemed incredible that the Blues were going to blow it again against a side as poor as this Liverpool one. Even those of us who are sceptical about mental blocks and inferiority complexes begin to scratch our heads in that sort of situation.
Thankfully the Blues’ reply was immediate. On 21 minutes Liverpool keeper Brad Jones punched a corner out to the edge of the box from where the excellent Leon Osman drilled a low shot home with the help of a deflection off Joe Allen.
From then on Everton fucking murdered them. Kevin Mirallas, carrying a large part of the creative burden in the absence of Steven Pienaar, took the game to Liverpool and caused them all sorts of problems. He had their shit-looking fullback Andre Wisdom twisted like DNA, and it was no surprise when the equaliser came from the Belgian’s work down the left. Mirallas’s low cross struck Marouane Fellaini who in turn fired the ball across the six-yard box. Naismith and Nikica Jelavic exploited the gap between the Liverpool central defenders, with the Scottish international getting the crucial touch.
Unfortunately a shocker of a challenge by Suarez, standing on Mirallas’s left ankle, meant he was replaced by the frankly hopeless Magaye Gueye at half-time. The Liverpool striker went unpunished though – it wasn’t until he repeated the indiscretion, stepping on Sylvain Distin’s Achilles, that he received a yellow card. That’s the challenge that has received all the attention, but the foul on Mirallas looked even more cynical and premeditated.
He’s a cunt, quite frankly.
Liverpool were one more goal away from total collapse but Everton couldn’t force the breakthrough before half-time. With Mirallas off the pitch in the second half, the Blues were still on top but lost that real cutting edge. Brendan Rodgers completely changed his side and his formation for the second period, such was the chasing they were getting, and it made for a strange 45 minutes.
It almost felt like extra-time in a game where both sides are down to ten men. They frequently lost their shape, struggled to really exert any control and the whole thing seemed on the verge of descending into chaos.
Raheem Sterling, another who got away with a ton of niggly fouls, should have put Liverpool back in front early on but screwed a shot wide when clean through on Howard. At the other end Jelavic planted a free header wide and was only inches away from converting a low cross from Seamus Coleman.
That just left the madness at the end.
Liverpool were clearly robbed when a linesman deemed that Suarez was offside as he turned Sebastian Coates’s header down over the line, but it would have been an undeserved winner scored by a rat who should have been sent off. So they’ll get little sympathy from us.
Everton were disappointed that they again failed to take all three points from a game in which they were superior, but then at 2-0 down we all would have settled for a point.
Everton finished the day in fifth place – Liverpool remain six points behind their Merseyside rivals in 12th.