They may have knocked their rivals out of the FA Cup in February 2009, but prior to today, Everton’s last derby win in the league was four long years ago in a 3-0 whitewash with Pepe Reina’s forgettable blunder sealing the points.
This duck could not have been broken at a more convenient time as far as Evertonians are concerned, but for the red side of Merseyside it’s still doom and gloom in abundance, as disillusioned and distraught fans call for the head of Roy Hodgson after this latest torture.
Everton, for their part, were very unified as they dominated the first half with disquieting ease, restricting Liverpool to potshots and half chances which were nonchalantly dealt with by Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin (thankfully choosing today to be at his best).
In the 34th minute, Tim Cahill continued his excellent record against Liverpool by expertly punting the ball from Seamus Coleman past a helpless Pepe Reina into the corner of the net. It was an explosive end to an impressive downfield move, but was the cue for Liverpool to increase their ineffective pressing before the half-time whistle.
All too often, a 1-0 lead at half-time has been the cue for Everton to sit back, inviting teams to score straight after the break after being anonymous. Today, it was The Toffees who took the initiative by scoring the decisive goal in a half which saw Liverpool come back at Everton with a bit more venom – although nothing the royal blue battlers couldn’t handle.
Mikel Arteta took advantage of lax defending to fire home a thunderbolt from the edge of the area past an unsighted Reina for 2-0. The joy around the ground was palpable and almost tangible as the game became an end to end, tit for tat affair.
Maligned Everton new-boy Jermaine Beckford nearly made it three near the end, but by that point Everton had shown Liverpool who the pride of Merseyside really are with a thumping performance which left Liverpool 19th and staring into the abyss, their tails firmly between their diarrhoea covered legs.
Tim Howard (7) – Competent and solid, held a firm back line and made a couple of good saves.
Leighton Baines (7) – Frustrated the impotent Liverpool wingers at every opportunity.
John Heitinga (5) – The only questionable player on the pitch. Out of position but showed a poor attitude at times, maybe he really is off…
Sylvain Distin (8) – Fantastic performance which demonstrated good pace and sound game-reading.
Phil Jagielka (8) – Ditto
Phil Neville (7) – Was an excellent leader on the pitch and used his versatility to great effect.
Seamus Coleman (6) – Decent overall performance, excellent distribution for the first goal.
Mikel Arteta (8) – Tricky and skilful, didn’t give Liverpool a moment’s peace and nearly burst the net with his sensational strike.
Tim Cahill (8) – A brilliant strike and active all game.
Leon Osman (8) – Has come in for some stick, but was involved in everything and set about his boyhood club without mercy.
Ayegbeni Yakubu (7) – Tried his best and used ample physique in the right way; he’s getting there…
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (6) – Not a standout performance, but worked his shift.
Tony Hibbert (6) – Ditto.
Jermaine Beckford (7) – Looked positive and willing to score, needs to curb his tackling game however.
Pepe Reina (7) – Nothing he could have done to prevent the game losing strikes, stopped Everton racking up a rugby score in the first half.
Paul Konchesky (5) – Looked out of his depth and nervous at times.
Sotirios Kyriagos (6) – A marked improvement in the second half, but still found out on isolated occasions.
Jamie Carragher (6) – Moved the game around and looked good on the build up.
Martin Skrtel (5) – Given a good roasting all afternoon and grew reckless.
Steven Gerrard (5) – Far from his best, poor shooting and delivery
Raul Meireles (6) – Combined well with Gerrard and Torres in the second half, but still lacks skill on individual moves.
Joe Cole (3) – Was in the pocket of the Everton defence all game and did very little to turn around a lost battle.
Maxi Rodriguez (5) – Did not always get his way in attacking play, below par service to Torres.
Leiva Lucas (5) – Ineffective throughout, not enough fight.
Fernando Torres (6) – Looked eager and menacing, but was dreadful in terms of consistently hitting on target.
David N’Gog (5) – Physically examined by a tough and steely Everton defence.
Ryan Babel (4) – Largely anonymous.
Milan Jovanovic (6) – Intimidated and asked questions, but was brought on far too late.
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