Liverpool 2-0 Everton: Talking points as Reds complete double over city rivals to stay in title race
Second-half goals from Andy Robertson and Divock Origi brought victory for the Reds in the Merseyside Derby played at Anfield on Sunday, with Liverpool thus completing a league double over Everton for the season. It wasn’t exactly an easy match for Jurgen Klopp’s team – it never is – but their superior quality found a way to shine through in the end.
Nasty display from Everton
Obviously aware that they were no match for their title-chasing neighbours from across Stanley Park, Everton did their best to disrupt the game and stop genuine football from being played in any way they could. It meant a combination of time wasting, diving, starting scuffles and making studs-first tackles when nothing else served.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, an unpopular enough figure at Anfield as it is due to his obviously deliberate infliction of season-ending injury to Virgil van Dijk in October 2020, played for time straight from the first whistle and referee Stuart Atwell was extremely patient not to book him for it. Whenever he caught the ball, the England international would wait a bit, and then needlessly throw himself on the ground just to annoy the home supporters.
It went officially unpunished, but at the very end of the match, his Liverpool counterpart Alisson Becker took matters into his own hands to put Pickford to shame. With the score already set at 2-0 and the injury time starting, Brazilian caught Richarlison’s shot, the only one on target from Everton throughout the contest, waited a bit, and threw himself on the ground in a rather theatrical manner, prompting loud cheers and laughter from the stands.
Richarlison went down apparently in need of medical assistance three times, and after each occasion he would simply play on as if nothing had happened. On the third occasion, just as the first 45 minutes expired, Liverpool players refused to stop playing and eventually Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled Fabinho from behind, following it up by tripping the Liverpool midfielder after the whistle giving the foul had gone. With the score still 0-0 at the time, Doucoure obviously got what he wanted (in addition to a yellow card), causing a scuffle which saw Liverpool forward Sadio Mane booked as well for grabbing Allan by the face.
The final outburst of filthy play came again from Richarlison. The game was already lost for Everton – they were two goals down and the second-half injury time was underway, when he put his studs through the shin of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. After a brief consultation with the linesman, Atwell deemed a yellow card was enough and there was no intervention from the VAR.
As lucky as it gets for the Brazilian forward, as well as for the rest of his team who really don’t need him suspended for three matches with Premier League survival on the line.
It was a game of mixed impressions when it comes to young Everton winger Anthony Gordon. Chosen to start ahead of Anwar El Ghazi on the left attacking flank, he caused Liverpool quite a few problems with raw pace, taking advantage of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s tendency to play far up the pitch.
He burst forward with the ball several times, and those were the only moments when Everton actually looked like they could score, but lacking end product, the 21-year-old was booked for an unbelievably blatant dive inside the box in the 25th minute.
In the second half, he went down in another search of a penalty after getting entangled with Joel Matip, and even though there was actual contact that time, Gordon had clearly stepped across Matip’s line of movement looking for it, and Atwell was unimpressed. It wasn’t exactly a dive, so there was no call for a second booking, but there was no reason for a penalty to be given either.
Speaking to the press after the match, Everton boss Frank Lampard disagreed.
The overwhelming conclusion is that Gordon needs proper help to hone his undoubtable talents if he wants to become a genuinely good player, and ditch the antics that have already gotten him branded as a diver.
Liverpool patient in domination
Despite the match not going the way they would’ve wanted it to for an hour, Liverpool never lost their patience and never looked as if they’d lost their belief that the final outcome would be a satisfactory one. They mostly kept the ball with ease as Everton defended deep (83% possession), circled the opposition box time and again, took 13 corners, oozing plenty of confidence that a crack in the Blue wall would eventually appear.
The only time the Reds looked like they could lose their tempers was the moment of tension between Doucoure and Fabinho late in the first half, but Klopp obviously managed to calm his
men down during the break.
Apart from the immense gap in possession between the two teams, another fact that speaks volumes about Liverpool’s domination is that Allan, Everton’s central midfielder, completed just two passes for the 73 minutes he spent on the pitch, and both of those were kick-offs.
All in all, while it looked like Everton were getting what they wanted with frequent interruptions and as little football as possible played, the hosts weren’t too concerned. And at the stroke of the hour, Klopp decided it was time to turn up the heat. Naby Keita and Mane left the pitch, making way for Luis Diaz and Divock Origi.
There have been few Liverpool players in recent history proving as fatal for Everton as Origi. The Belgian simply loves scoring against the Blues and neither side of Stanley Park (Pickford least of all) will ever forget his 96th-minute winner in December, 2018.
The 27-year-old worked well with the other forwards straight from his first step on the pitch, and it took only two minutes for him to be involved in finding the breakthrough. He made himself available for a nice lay-off for Mohamed Salah on the right, and the Egyptian’s subsequent cross found the onrushing Robertson on the far post.
But it would hardly be a Merseyside Derby without Origi scoring, so he made it his business to
get on the end of a scuffed bicycle-kick from Diaz and nod the ball over Pickford into the net with five minutes to go.
“I will never ever miss a player more than Divock Origi,” Klopp said after the match. “He’ll explode wherever he goes, he is a world class striker.”
Origi’s contract expires at the end of the season and as things stand, he’s set to leave the club as a free agent with AC Milan believed to be leading the race for his services. Pickford, along with the rest of Everton, won’t be too sad to see him leave Merseyside.
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