Everton pulled Liverpool back twice in this intense derby match but it was not enough to continue their perfect start to the season. Carlo Ancelotti’s side dropped points for the first time in this campaign having won their first seven matches in all competitions.
This was a welcomed response from Liverpool, who lost 7-2 to Aston Villa before the international break. Michael Keane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored to cancelled out Sadio Mane’s and Mo Salah’s goals and it could have been worse for Everton had Jordan Henderson’s injury-time goal not been disallowed for offside.
Story of the game
Ancelotti was able to start with Allan and Andre Gomes in midfield, who had both been given thumbs up to play despite slight injury concerns. Adrian once again deputised in goal for Liverpool due to Alisson’s injury and Jurgen Klopp also opted for Joel Matip to partner Virgil van Dijk in central defence whilst Thiago was given his first start since contracting COVID-19.
The early games after an international break are often slow to get going, but only three minutes had elapsed when Liverpool took an early lead. The play was well worked across the pitch through Salah to Andy Robertson. The left-back got the better of Seamus Coleman and sent a low cross into the area where Mane stretched to volley into the roof of the net for his fourth derby goal since joining the club.
The visitors started quickly and were a yard ahead of their opponents. Henderson, back after a brief injury lay-off, hustled and dispossessed Gomes but could not grow enough to latch onto a Mane cross moments later. Fabinho also sent in an inviting delivery towards Van Dijk but Jordan Pickford took the Liverpool defender out by crashing into him with both feet off the ground. Irrespective of Van Dijk being offside, Pickford should have been punished with at least a yellow card for the despicable foul that led to Van Dijk going off.
Calvert-Lewin had Everton’s first attempt on target but his effort was straight down the throat of Adrian. The Everton forward was sent through again and shot at the near post only for the goalkeeper to palm away for a corner. It was from James’s corner that the home side equalised. Keane rose to tower a header at goal and it travelled through the weak hands of Adrian.
Weak hands were absent when Pickford acrobatically saved a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick which was heading into the top corner. By this stage, Liverpool’s backline was looking more than makeshift. Joe Gomez had come on to play alongside Matip. Everton also had to reshuffle at the back when Coleman pulled up having tweaked his hamstring, Ben Godfrey, the new signing from Norwich City, came on to make his debut.
The tempo slowed and there was an abundance of fouls in midfield as Allan carelessly brought Liverpool players down in dangerous areas. Thiago shot powerfully from outside the area but it whistled wide whilst Robertson advanced beyond Godfrey to tee-up Mane but he sliced his first-time shot.
There were chances for Everton before the half was out with Richarlison just unable to reach a cross into the corridor of uncertainty and Gomes also whipping a high shot goalwards that needed to be tipped over the crossbar by a backtracking Adrian.
The home side, who had allowed Liverpool a lot of the ball in the first half, began to get the ball more to James Rodriguez. The Colombian played in Calvert-Lewin but his effort was miscued. Then James floated another fine ball into the area but Richarlison could only head against the post. A bending shot from James was less of a concern for Adrian but still the Spanish goalkeeper dived to save.
It was therefore somewhat out of the blue that Klopp’s men took the lead again on 72 minutes. Henderson’s cross from the right was nonchalantly back-heeled out by Mina only to allow Salah to blast the ball past Pickford for his 100th goal for the club. Matip thought he had doubled the visitors’ lead when he headed down a corner but Pickford saved spectacularly with a strong right hand to claw the ball off the goalline.
That save was held in even higher regard moments later when down the other end Calvert-Lewin leaped emphatically to head in a Lucas Digne cross. It was only a matter of time before Calvert-Lewin had his say on this derby given his start to the campaign.
Liverpool though did not give in and kept pushing forward. Mane was at the centre of it but was smothered by Pickford before heading wide Diogo Jota’s goalbound shot. Blue mist descended when Richarlison went over the ball and straight through Thiago with his foot raised. There was no option but for Michael Oliver to send the Brazilian off for a reckless challenge.
The drama continued into stoppage time when Thiago played a superb blind pass to Mane who in turn set up Henderson to finish past Pickford. The Everton goalkeeper got his hand to the ball but was weak in his attempt to stop it. As the Liverpool captain ran off to celebrate, VAR inspected the goal and deemed that Mane had been offside. The goal was ruled out meaning this derby ended in a draw.