Sadio Mane’s injury-time goal proved to be the difference as Liverpool edged Everton 1-0 in the first Merseyside derby of the campaign
The derby lived up to its billing as there were a number of reckless challenges, skirmishes between the two sets of players and controversial refereeing decisions. For most parts of the game, Everton and Liverpool cancelled each other out, but Sadio Mane scored deep into the second half to spoil the day for the Goodison Park faithful.
Here are the talking points from an intriguing Merseyside derby:
Everton dominate early exchanges, but slip off the pace in the second half
The Toffees picked up from where they left off against Arsenal and took the attack to their local rivals. Everton’s two wide men Aaron Lennon and Enner Valencia kept putting pressure on the Liverpool full-backs, while striker Romelu Lukaku looked to compete for every loose ball.
While there were a lack of clear cut goal-scoring opportunities in the first period, Everton just shaded it because of their superiority off the ball, and deserved to have a lead come the end of the first half.
Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi fail to show up
Since the injury to Philippe Coutinho, Jurgen Klopp has called upon Belgian attacker Divock Origi to deliver the goods, and he has complied, no questions asked. Much of the same was expected from the 21-year-old against Everton, but he could not have a great impact on proceedings.
His teammate Roberto Firmino also looked like a shade of his prolific best – which resulted in the Liverpool attack looking threadbare. While Sadio Mane continued to make sprints every now and then, Firmino and Origi weren’t as mobile for most parts of the game, and almost cost their club a crucial two points.
However, Daniel Sturridge’s addition turned the fortunes around for Liverpool and they kept pushing till they got their deserved winner late into the second half.
Ross Barkley lucky not to be sent off after contemptible lunge on Jordan Henderson
Perhaps the most talked about incident after the game was that of Ross Barkley’s merciless challenge on England teammate Jordan Henderson. The Everton midfielder went in late with his studs showing, and made contact with the ankle of the Liverpool captain.
Henderson was fortunate not to be injured by a challenge of that magnitude, but Barkley was equally fortuitous to stay on the pitch. Referee Mike Dean, who took charge of his first Merseyside derby, astonishingly decided that the tackle was worthy of only a yellow card.
In all fairness to the official, he did not have a clear view of the incident, and probably would have shown a different colour should he have had the facility of watching footage of the horrifying challenge.
Sadio Mane’s perseverance saw him score the all-important winner in the dying stages
Mane was one of the few players on the pitch who worked tirelessly throughout the course of the game. Due to the lack of creative players, chances were few and far between, but he took the all important chance to seal the victory for his team.
Daniel Sturridge’s shot lacked the power and precision and somehow Everton’s substitute goalkeeper Joel Robles failed to get his hand on it. Mane who was inside the box while Sturridge had a go, ran for the rebound and slotted the ball into an empty net to secure the three points.
Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan keep it tidy at the back for the Reds
Due to Joel Matip’s unavailability, Ragnar Klavan started the game against Everton alongside Dejan Lovren at the back for the visitors. Klopp has often used midfielder Lucas to serve as a makeshift centre-back, but this time opted to go for an out-and-out defender.
To the delight of the Liverpool faithful, the decision paid off as Klavan and Lovren put in a spirited display for the second game in a row. The duo looked infallible in the game against Middlesbrough, and were solid in the Merseyside derby as well.
Everton forward Romelu Lukaku struggled to find gaps in between the defenders and wasn’t given any real sights of goal. Simon Mignolet was given adequate protection between the sticks, and for the first time this season, Liverpool kept cleansheets in two successive games.