Liverpool drew 2-2 with Everton on Sunday in the latest installment of the Merseyside Derby. In a spirited game that saw four goals in the opening 36 minutes, and seven yellow cards handed out, the talking point will be about a goal that was controversially disallowed at the end.
Liverpool thought they had scored the winner at the very end, only to controversially be denied a goal. A Gerrard free kick was knocked down in the box by Sebastián Coates, and into the path of Suárez who scored from close range.
The goal however, was disallowed by the referee's assistant, who flagged the Uruguayan for offside, a decision which replays appear to show was incorrect.
The game started bright enough with Liverpool custodian, Brad Jones being called on early. First, a hustling effort along the end line resulted in a clearance and save a corner; then minutes later to make a fingertip save off a corner kick in the 10th minute.
The game finally opened up after Suso rode a tackle to leave for José Enrique, who then passed across the face of goal to Luis Suárez whose shot was deflected in by Baines in the 14th.
Ever the gadfly, the Liverpool striker then ran all the way to midfield and theatrically flopped in front the Everton bench, a picante, if fitting riposte to Everton manager, David Moyes’ accusation in the press that he was a diver.
After a brief spell of determined play by Everton, Raheem Sterling won a free kick after being tripped by Osman. On the ensuing free kick Steven Gerrard sent a curling ball into the box for Suárez who got the slightest of touches to deflect the ball past Tim Howard and into the Everton net for a 2-0 Reds lead.
Everton came right back after Jones failed to properly punch clear an Everton cross into the box. The ball fell invitingly to Leon Osman, who had enough time to settle and send a low drive at goal, taking a slight deflection off Joe Allen on the way to bring Everton back into the game in the 22nd.
Suárez continued to threaten and sent dangerous strike just wide of the Everton goal, but it was Everton who would next get on the scoreboard.
Everton was unfairly awarded the ball on what should have been a Liverpool throw-in, and Fellaini sent a cross into the box where it was met by the on-rushing Steven Naismith for the equalizer in the 36th minute.
Brendan Rodgers again, would not be pleased with the defending as Enrique was guilty of a bit of ball watching, failing to track Naismith’s run, while was Jones indecisive in coming for the low, skipping cross.
Everton had Liverpool on the back foot and sought to press the issue. Kevin Mirallas got past teenage right back Andre Wisdom a bit too easily, but fortunately his shot on goal was parried aside by Jones in 39th, allowing Liverpool to finish the half without further incident.
Rodgers made a couple changes to both his line up and formation coming out of the half. Off was the ineffective Nuri Sahin who was replaced by Sebastián Coates; and Suso, who was replaced by Jonjo Shelvey. The Liverpool manager explained his thoughts to Sky Sports:
"... I had to make a tactical change at half-time as there were a lot of direct balls, no great build-up play and we had to deal with a lot of aerial balls in the box, so we flipped it to a back three and five in midfield and two up front to still give us that possibility to attack better and I thought it worked really well for us."
Liverpool then proceeded to play with three at the back Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel centrally, and Coates just off to his right. Enrique and Wisdom then pushed forward as wing backs, to bolster the Liverpool attack, and well as to buffet the Liverpool midfield.
The move almost paid immediate dividends when a great opportunity for Sterling right after the restart. The youngster flubbed the chance however, much to the extreme displeasure of Suárez who berated him mercilessly, and needlessly at that.
The game descended into a stalemate for most of the second half, and credit is due to Rodgers for the personnel and tactical changes. At the half Everton held a 53 percent to 47 percent advantage in possession, and they would finish the game with a 56-44 percent edge.
The stalemate continued until some unspecified infringement was spotted by Simon Bennett, the referee’s assistant, and Suárez' goal was disallowed. Two possibilities are that Coates may have been over the back of Phil Jagielka, or that Suárez was offside.
Replays would seem to negate the validity of either of these offenses. In the least these would have been harsh calls, and all things being even the goal should have stood.
Andre Marriner referee did a good job of managing a tightly contested game in a highly charged atmosphere at Goodison Park, but in the end Liverpool has to feel hard done by the result
As always, player ratings are presented by position (back-to-front) below, along the following guidelines:
10: Exceptional—superlative performances only.
9: Excellent—outstanding performance.
8: Impressive—very influential game.
7: Very good—eye-catching game.
6: Average—good game, but nothing overly impressive.
5: Below Average—decent performance, but with some faults.
4: Poor—many faults, performance stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Additionally, any performance that affects the outcome of the game will increase or decrease a player’s rating by half a point (.5).
Brad Jones— the stand-in custodian was guilty of a poor punch leading to the Osman goal, and his distribution throughout the game was equally poor with several goal kicks that gave away possession. He otherwise had a brilliant game in goal and his confidence seems to be increasing with each start. Grade 7
Andre Wisdom (Jordan Henderson 70th) — with Martin Kelly still on the mend, Wisdom got yet another start, but his performance was a shade below his recent stellar form. The youngster had a difficult time with Everton’s Kevin Mirallas until the latter was subbed, but for the most part has continued to justify his manager’s confidence in him. Grade 6.5
Martin Skrtel— Skrtel had a very good game in central defense, combining with Agger to stymie the dangerous pair of Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic. Grade 7
Daniel Agger— Much like Skrtel, Agger had a brilliant game despite the constant threat posed by Jelavic in particular. He did pick up a needless yellow card for a deliberate handball, but this was in the end inconsequential to the game. Grade 7
José Enrique— an injury to Glen Johnson allowed Enrique to get back into the starting lineup, and both he and his manager would be happy about the contributions he made on offense. Less reassuring was the defensive lapse on the Naismith goal, but all in all a solid performance. Grade 6.5
Nuri Sahin (Coates 45th) — the young Turk had a rare indifferent performance for Liverpool today, making very little impact on the game before being subbed off. Grade 6
Joe Allen— another in a series of stellar performances by the young Welshman. He had his hands full today with the sheer behemoth that is Fellaini, but did well to hold his own in their frequent battles. Grade 7.5
Steven Gerrard— Gerrard’s game is undoubtedly on the wane, but what he can still do, he does splendidly. His vision and passing remain top class, as is his ability to threaten from set pieces. His assist to Suárez and near assist on what should have been the winner are indicative of his lasting quality in that regard. Grade 8
Suso (Jonjo Shelvey 45th) — the match may have been a bit too physical for the 18-year old as Liverpool in general lacked muscle in midfield during the first half. He did very well to get the ball to Enrique for the cross on Liverpool’s first goal however. Grade 6.5
Raheem Sterling— the young midfielder was unfortunate to find himself in a bit of trouble in the first half after two fouls on Leighton Baines. On the first his momentum saw him clatter into Baines, resulting in a booking, and in the second he just seemed to clip the player’s heel. Disgustingly, this brought an unnecessary reaction from the Everton players, Tim Howard in particular, in effort to seemingly intimidate the referee into showing Sterling a second yellow. Fortunately a talking to was all that Marriner saw as being necessary. Grade 8
Luis Suárez — what else can be said about Suárez that hasn’t already been said? He may be a pest, but he’s Liverpool’s pest, and their unquestionable barometer. His energy and tenacity helps set the early tempo for the Liverpool attack, and indeed for the game. He may not get credit for the Baines own goal, but easily could, and should have had a brace were it not for the blown call at the end of the match. Grade 8.5
Shelvey— the England U-21 continues to improve all-round as a player, and he brought a much needed physicality and tenacity to the Liverpool midfield in the second half. Grade 6
Coates — had a shaky 45 minutes on the field after limited first team action this season. His positioning was questionable throughout, perhaps due to rust rather than lack of acuity, and this resulted in a number of fouls, which on another day may have seen him booked. Grade 6
Henderson — didn’t really get a chance to do much in his 20+ minutes on the field, outside of a solitary foray late in the game. Grade 6
Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Stewart Downing, Osama Assaidi
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