‘These are nothing special. The only thing we have to fear here is just being typical Everton’.
Five minutes later Philippe Coutinho is left completely unmarked at a corner and typical Everton are a goal down. However, rather untypically for modern derbies the Blues went on to batter Liverpool for most of the first half and were level only three minutes later. Kevin Mirallas, who had his best game of the season so far, reacted quickest to poke the ball into the roof of the net when a Leighton Baines free-kick broke in the six-yard box.
Everton were all over them and their Chris Isaak-nosed goaly, Simone Mignolet, had to make some excellent saves especially to deny Romelu Lukaku and the inspired Ross Barkley.
On 19 minutes though, a rare Liverpool foray out of their half saw them win a free kick that Luis Suarez, with his grid like a thrift store chess set, curled around Everton’s shonky wall and into the bottom corner of the Gwladys Street goal.
The Blues genuinely played some great, quick, incisive football – as good as they have since the first half against Newcastle United – but were infuriatingly undone by neglecting the absolute basics.
Again, typical Everton.
Much was said after the game about a challenge by Mirallas where he went in studs first and caught Suarez just above the knee. The Belgian only received a yellow card despite their physio trying to petition for the reinstatement of the birch, the gobby tit.
Two things about the Mirallas challenge then. Firstly, maybe Liverpudlians would find it easier to accept if they just view it as a post-dated foul from the game when Suarez got Jack Rodwell sent off for a great tackle.
Secondly, and most pertinently, the squealing rat’s had it coming for a while.
At half time then Everton went in 2-1 down despite controlling the majority of the game. Things changed though five minutes after the restart when Baines had to be replaced by Gerard Deulofeu. Gareth Barry dropped to left-back and Barkley had to come deeper, as a result Liverpool started to get into the game more in midfield where they had been overrun previously, but as they pressed forward that actually saw more opportunities open up for Everton on the break.
Still, they should have been 3-1 up when Suarez did that horribly effective ‘run straight at the defenders’ thing which sees the ball pinball around off knees and shins. This time it broke for Joe ‘remember him?’ Allen who inexplicably side-footed a sitter wide of the Park End goal.
It was the best miss in a derby since Steve McManaman tackled Karl-Heinze Riedle in front of the same goal in the Danny Cadamarteri game.
The game began to get increasingly stretched and frantic – the atmosphere was great for an early kick off – but Everton kept wasting their opportunities. Deulofeu was the worst culprit when put clean through by ‘shouldn’t have even been on the pitch’ Mirallas. All the clips of the young Spaniard playing for Barcelona B or the Spain under-21s show him continually racing from the halfway line and contemptuously slotting, but lo and behold when given the big stage he weakly shot straight at Mignolet.
An already mad game just got even crazier in the final 20 minutes, starting with Everton’s equaliser. Lukaku, who was having a relatively poor game – he made life far too easy for Daniel Agger – smashed a free-kick that deflected off the Liverpool wall and drew another good stop from Mignolet. Mirallas fed the ball back into the box though, James McCarthy failed to connect with it but Lukaku side-footed home despite Mignolet getting his hand to the shot.
At the other end Suarez headed point blank at Tim Howard as we all waited for the net to bulge, and then Everton took the lead. Mirallas – him again, the dirty get! – took a decent corner from the left and Lukaku got up at the near post and planted home the classic Everton centre-forward’s header.
Everton just had to hold on for the remaining eight minutes or so then to complete a sensational comeback. Clearly they didn’t.
As soon as Steven Gerrard positioned the dead ball yards away from where Sylvain Distin’s raised foot brushed Victor Moses’s head, you knew we were in trouble. The crying-faced get has slowed down alarmingly but he still delivers a great free-kick and this one only had to nick off Daniel Sturridge’s barnet to leave Howard powerless to keep it out of the net.
It could have been even worse though, as Howard had to block Suarez’s rasper at the near post and Moses headed a great chance over the bar. Conversely, the Blues were on the attack at the final whistle, frantically trying to work an opening only for the excellent McCarthy’s shot to get blocked and balloon into the stand.
There’s not really a great deal to add as you will have already heard all the superlatives about just what an entertaining game it was. That’s partly down to the attacking strengths of both sides, but also because of their defensive weaknesses.
The moral outrage about off the pitch stuff seems more low key than in previous seasons. They had some stupid flag with a cake on it that someone had spent far too much time and effort on, while we sang one chorus of ’Brendan Rodgers, your son is a nonce’.
Pretty tame really.
Going back to the football, when we play like this we are one of the most ‘fun’ teams in the league and it’s hard to even get too annoyed with them for all the stupid mistakes.