Drama, controversy and ferocity abounded at Goodison Park. Throw in a last-minute twist to infuriate purists and deny Liverpool a famous victory, it was almost as though everything was back to normal at a richly entertaining Merseyside derby.
Jordan Pickford had an extraordinary afternoon – not always in a good way – and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continued his exemplary start to the season. Yet there is still a decade since Everton last won this fixture in the Premier League.
For Liverpool, there was an emphatic response to the thrashing at Villa Park. Their intensity in the opening 15 minutes was such that Everton could barely get near them. Yet, honours would end even in a fiercely contested match of no little quality.
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson questions the officials at full time after seeing a stoppage time winner chalked off for an offside against Sadio Mane in a pulsating Merseyside derby
This was the moment of controversy as Mane was adjudged by VAR to be in an offside position in the build-up to Henderson’s stoppage time goal
After close deliberation of the offside by the Video Assistant Referee lasting several anxious minutes, the goal was disallowed
Dominic Calvert-Lewin leaps above the Liverpool defence to level the contest at two apiece and ultimately earn a point
The prolific striker watches on as his header beats Liverpool keeper Adrian to find the net and keep Everton top of the table
Mohamed Salah celebrates after restoring Liverpool’s lead with 18 minutes of the game left but it didn’t prove enough
The Egyptian forward is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring Liverpool’s second goal but Everton would take a point
Salah had been quiet throughout the game but left Everton floored with a first-time strike during the second period
All that was missing was the one aspect, which makes any derby meaningful. Empty stadia have become a normalised part of our new routines.
And yet a near silent Goodison Park, the grandest and loudest of old grounds, brought a fresh poignancy to the ongoing tragedies unfolding around the world, not least in this freshly locked-down city.
And football at its best is a welcome diversion from reality. As such, these teams played their part to the full, allowing us to escape for 90 minutes the ominous statistics which now given our lives.
There hasn’t been a Merseyside derby as eagerly anticipated as this since the 1980s, a glorious era for football in this city. Yet Everton, top of the league and riding high, initially seemed crushed by the weight of expectation.
Champions Liverpool, humbled two weeks ago by Aston Villa, seemed intent on righting wrongs. Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho fairly flew out of the blocks.
The Liverpool press, which just never functioned at Villa Park, seemed to be back and turned up to eleven. Within three minutes Andy Robertson beat Seamus Coleman, cross for Mane, who struck first time past Jordan Pickford; it was cold and clinical and seemed to mock Evertonian’s excitement.
Coleman beat the ground with his fist as the ball went in, knowing his mistake had caused it. He would depart halfway through the half with a hamstring injury.
Sadio Mane celebrates after firing Liverpool into an early lead in the Merseyside derby with an emphatic finish
Mane lashed the ball home inside three minutes to hand Liverpool the perfect start following Andrew Robertson’s cut back
Everton’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford recklessly challenges Virgil van Dijk – a check by the VAR confirmed that Van Dijk was offside but Pickford was fortunate to avoid punishment
Van Dijk was injured as a result of Pickford’s challenge and went off shortly afterwards to be replaced by Joe Gomez
Liverpool in the ascendancy rammed home their dominance. A corner on 5 minutes was cleared but Fabinho chipped the ball over the advancing back Everton four.
Pickford was exposed. Virgil van Dijk, up for the corner, was in on goal. And Pickford suffered one of those aberrations for which he is now renowned. Out he rushed and in he clattered to van Dijk, who has nudged the ball past him.
It was high, dangerous and reckless. It would have been a penalty had not VAR come to the rescue determining that van Dijk was offside.
Yet somehow David Coote, the VAR, didn’t bother to check for a possible red, which could have been awarded regardless. You won’t see a clearer sending off this season.
Van Dijk would have to leave to be replaced by Joe Gomez. That probably showed ion 20 minutes as Everton slowly gained a grip of the game. They re-established themselves by getting Dominic Calvin-Lewin into the game, long balls, especially from the metronomic boot of James, exposed Liverpool’s back line.
Everton equalised through Michael Keane’s towering header after 19 minutes at Goodison Park as he rose above Fabinho
Keane (right) celebrates scoring Everton’s equaliser as the teams traded early blows in a classic Merseyside derby
Keane rose highest above two Liverpool defenders to head beyond Adrian to make it 1-1 as Everton responded to Mane’s goal
Everton (4-3-3): Pickford 6; Coleman 5 (c) (Godfrey 31, 6), Mina 5.5, Keane 7, Digne 7; Doucoure 6 (Iwobi 78, 6), Allan 7, Gomes 7 (Sigurdsson 72, 6); Rodriguez 5.5, Calvert-Lewin 8, Richarlison 5.5
Substitutes not used: Olsen (GK); Bernard, Davies, Delph
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Scorers: Keane 19; Calvert-Lewin 81
Booked: Rodriguez, Gomes, Allan
Sent off: Richarlison 90
Liverpool (4-3-3): Adrian 6.5; Alexander-Arnold 7, Matip 6.5, Van Dijk 6 (Gomez 11, 6), Robertson 7; Henderson (c) 7.5, Fabinho 7 (Wijnaldum 90+1), Thiago 7.5; Salah 7, Firmino 7 (Jota 78), Mane 8
Substitutes not used: Kelleher (GK); Jones, Milner, Minamino
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Scorers: Mane 3; Salah 72
Booked: Mane, Fabinho
Referee: Michael Oliver 5
From one such foray came a corner, which James lifted directly on to the head of Micheal Keane. The jump was well time and the header thunderous but Fabinho’s failure to challenge and Adrian’s flap was equal contributors to the equalising goal.
Now a more equal contest ensued. Pickford redeemed himself with a flying save from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free kick on 24 minutes while Mane, played in by Robertson on 35 minutes in a near carbon copy of his goal, should have done better than a tame shot wide.
For Everton, Yerry Mina flattened Thiago high up the pitch on 44 minutes, allowing Calvert-Lewin’s tohch across goal to fall painfully short of Richarlison, sliding in at the far post. Henderson then went close on 48 minutes, volleying over for Liverpool.
On the hour, Richarlison’s diving header from James’ sumptuous cross came off the post. On 65 minutes, James went alone, driving at the Liverpool back four and seeing his shot from range parried away by Adrian. Liverpool would have their own lucky escape from a red card when Mané was booked for launching himself at Lucas Digné.
On and on it went, both sides trading blows until 73 minutes in when Henderson sent in a speculative cross. Mina should have dealt with it, but simply kicked it out softy at a nice height for the preying Salah to volley home.
On 73 minutes, Joel Matip met a Trent Alexander Arnold corner with a firm header destined for goal until the extraordinary Pickford leapt to his right and clawed the ball away. IN a week in which he faced utmost scrutiny, it was a stark reminder of his qualities.
Yet Everton are perhaps not the proposition they once were, not when you have Calvert-Lewin in form. Lucas Digne provided the inviting cross and Calvert-Lewin, seemingly hanging mid-air, towering above Andy Robertson, were there to head home, his eleventh goal for club and country this season.
Yet when Richarlison was sent off on 90 minutes, for a studs-up challenge on Fabinho, and the fourth official indicated five minutes of injury time, you knew they were tempting fate. The pass from Thiago was delightful, the cross from Mane precise, the shot was Henderson good enough but the attempted save by Pickford qwas woeful.
As Liverpool celebrated, the goalkeeper raged, all his strengths and weakness exposed. Then came the interminable wait as the VAR checked. Seemingly Mane’s elbow had strayed offside. So we ended on a whimper of a disallowed goal rather than the drama of a last-minute victory.
Everton’s Richarlison struck the post with this header as they attacked in the second-half
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is thwarted by Liverpool keeper Adrian at Goodison Park
Everton’s in-form striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin competes for the ball with Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson heads the ball wide of the target during the first-half
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appeals for a decision as Everton’s Carlo Ancelotti looks on