Everton have dropped into the relegation zone for the first time since December 2019, and manager Frank Lampard believes his team were denied a blatant penalty as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to neighbours Liverpool. In what was a fractious Merseyside derby, the home team prevailed courtesy of second-half headers from Andy Robertson and Divock Origi.
Lampard, however, was more aggrieved by the penalty he thought his side should have been awarded. With the game still goalless in the 53rd minute, Anthony Gordon was felled by Joel Matip in the Liverpool penalty area. Gordon had been booked by referee Stuart Attwell for diving in the first half but received neither another yellow card nor a penalty for this second incident.
“It is a penalty for me,” said Lampard, who has lost all seven away matches as Everton manager. “You don’t get them here. If that was Mo Salah at the other end he gets a penalty. I’m not trying to create conflict; it’s just the reality of football. I have played in teams in the top half of the league – you get them. That was a penalty for sure. It’s a clear foul.”
This defeat means Lampard has lost all seven away matches since taking over as manager in February. Prior to this game, Everton had dropped into the relegation zone due to Burnley’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Merseysiders now have six games — one more than Burnley who sit one place and two points ahead of them — to secure their top-flight status.
Yet, Lampard felt his team’s performance was good enough against a title-chasing outfit. The Everton manager took a leaf out of his former coach Jose Mourinho’s guidebook with his side trying to stifle and irk Liverpool with time-wasting and histrionics.
“It was a good performance against a difficult opponent,” Lampard continued. “You have seen their recent games – we had to have a plan to stop them getting space and for 60 minutes we did that as well as you can. We did it with great discipline and created the best chances until that point. But a moment of brilliance from Mo Salah and an overhead kick [from Luis Diaz to set up the second goal] are difficult to combat.”
'We found a way'
Despite much of the afternoon being tense for Liverpool, this eventual victory ensures dreams of an unprecedented Quadruple continue. They remain a point and place off Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Klopp’s substitutions on the hour mark proved decisive as both were involved in the two goals. “If you want to win the game you have to change things,” the Liverpool manager said. “In football if you don’t take risks you cannot win a football game. It was obviously easy to improve from the first half and we did, that’s why it was all good.
“When the boys come it is all about the right mindset – all three subs being ready. Hendo [Jordan Henderson] also came on late but how he showed up was absolutely exceptional. We had something like 87 per cent possession in the first half, but it was really difficult because of the counter-attacking threat they have. Credit to them, they found a way.”
Praise was sent the way of Origi, who came off the bench to net his sixth goal in this fixture. The Belgian forward last started a league game in January 2021 but he remains an important part of the Liverpool squad. His goals against Everton along with vital strikes in Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2019 mean he has cult hero status.
“He is a legend on and off the pitch,” Klopp said. “He is a fantastic footballer for me, and I know it sounds ridiculous as I don’t line him up often, he is a world-class striker. He is our best finisher definitely. He always was and everybody would say the same.
“When you see him do these kind of things in training, then you see the quality of the squad and other players and it’s really hard I imagine [for him]. I have really hard decisions to make because the boys all want to contribute and are responsible for the situation we are in. Everybody loves Div and rightly so. He was again very decisive. I’m very, very happy for him.”