As Merseyside Derbies go, the 220th version won't go down as a classic. Far from it, in fact.
Though Liverpool and Everton created chances and the game wasn't a totally boring affair, the derby ended in a scoreless draw that lacked the normal intensity or flair we've come to expect from this heated rivalry.
Steven Pienaar earned the game's first golden opportunity after winning a free kick. Leighton Baines whipped the set piece into the box, and Marouane Fellaini somehow got his foot on the ball, but his deflected attempt dribbled just wide to the left.
Liverpool gained the next solid chance in the game. Stewart Downing made a nice run down the right flank and chipped in a cross to Jordan Henderson, who battled for possession before centering a feed for Steven Gerrard. His shot looked headed for goal, but Phil Jagielka blocked it before it got there.
Liverpool earned a free kick outside of the box following that flurry of play, but Gerrard's curling effort dipped just wide to the left.
Jagielka came up huge with another big block in the 39th minute. After Daniel Sturridge lost possession of the ball in the box, it careened to Philippe Coutinho, who looked sure to slam home the game's first goal. But Jagielka came sliding in at the last moment and prevented the attempt on goal.
The first half ended scoreless.
Liverpool opened the second half with a nice opportunity, as Coutinho played a lovely pass to Sturridge running down the left side of the box. But Everton keeper Tim Howard did well to cut off Sturridge's angle as the striker tried to go around him, clearing the initial danger and keeping the game scoreless.
Everton had a goal taken off the board in the 55th minute. Sylvain Distin's header off a Baines corner found its way into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed, as the referee called Victor Anichebe for a foul on keeper Pepe Reina. On replay, the call appeared to be a poor one.
A minute later, a cross eventually found its way to Coutinho, but his attempt was a weak one that Howard easily handled.
Liverpool pressed forward again in the 73rd minute. Sturridge played Gerrard down the left side of the box with a nice pass, but despite getting around Howard, his tough-angle attempt was cleared out of play by Distin.
In the 79th minute Gerrard whipped a beautiful free kick into the box, but Daniel Agger's glancing header was off target, and the game remained scoreless.
The draw all but guarantees that Everton will finish the season in sixth place with two games to go, while Liverpool will likely finish seventh.
Steven Gerrard, Liverpool: A
The only thing Gerrard didn't do in this game was score a goal. His service throughout was wonderful, and he easily could have had two or three assists had his teammates been able to put away a free kick. He also had several nice scoring opportunities of his own only denied by a few excellent efforts from the Everton defense. An excellent performance from the wily old veteran.
Phil Jagielka, Everton: A-
Jagielka likely saved two goals with last-minute, sliding efforts and was a part of an Everton back four that bent but never broke in this contest. In a game when the team's creative players didn't do all that much creating, Jagielka led a strong defensive performance from the team.
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool: B
You can see why the Anfield faithful are so excited about this kid. He's clever and nimble on the ball and able to take on defenders and play his teammates into space with pinpoint passing. Alongside Gerrard, he was Liverpool's most dangerous player on the attack, but like the rest of his teammates, he lacked the last little bit of class needed to put the ball in the net.
Marouane Fellaini, Everton: C
Fellaini nearly scored on an amazing effort early and was a contributor in the battle across the midfield throughout the game, but he was pretty nonexistent on Everton's attack. I might be grading him slightly against his own ability here, but I expect him to be more of a factor than he was in this contest.
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