EPL: Heartbreak for Reds

EPL: Heartbreak for Reds
Everton's Phil Jagielka (C) scores a goal against Liverpool during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England September 27, 2014.

Under an overcast sky on an autumn's noon, an epic battle was taking shape.

More than 40,000 bellowed out the club's anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone", in the hope that the verbal support could catalyse a performance more fluid that the quite-average displays they have seen this season.

Victory could prove immense.

This was Anfield, the opponents yesterday were Everton.

Last term, a 4-0 win over their bitter city rivals sparked an unexpected title challenge.

The home crowd were eager to see a repeat performance to stir the team's current campaign into life.

However, the footballing gods wouldn't oblige.

The outcome turned out to be a cruel one, as Everton cancelled out a 1-0 lead in stoppage time to walk back across Stanley Park with a point in the bag.

This was a victory that slipped away.

Liverpool were teased, then jilted.

When, for more than an hour, there was no one seemingly capable of breaking the deadlock, the entire red half of Merseyside looked to only one man.

ONE MAN

It had to be Steven Gerrard.

The days of anticipation in Merseyside found its release in the 65th minute, when with an expert strike, he sent a free-kick curling past the wall and into the net.

Manager Brendan Rodgers leapt for joy. The Kop spontaneously broke into one of their favourite songs.

"Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, he passes from 40 yards..."

Anfield at this moment was a picture of sheer bliss.

The rest followed the cue, except for the 3,000 supporters conspicuously decked in blue and tucked away in a lonely corner.

Those in red thought the floodgates had opened. They threatened to, but they didn't.

Moments later, Mario Balotelli sent a close-range effort crashing against the crossbar, although Raheem Sterling deserved the credit with his brilliant run and subsequent cross.

Jordan Henderson saw a half-chance arrow straight into the goalkeeper's arms.

Everton made a push for it. The work ethics of this side came in useful once again.

They reorganised at the back and began to take more risks up front.

Romelu Lukaku continued to be a menace to the Liverpool backline.

Liverpool, in contrast, were beginning to look more and more vulnerable.

The pressure seemed to get to them.

They hesitated to go forward even when they had the ball. They seemed determined to sit back when Everton pushed forward.

This seemed like a logical plan, except that Liverpool for the past two seasons haven't had a defence capable of grinding out such victories.

They were desperate to hold on for a massive psychological boost, but alas, it proved a bridge too far.

FOUND THEIR VOICE

A minute into injury time, the loneliest section of Anfield suddenly found their voice once more.

When Phil Jagielka thumped a superb effort past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, they were the only ones singing.

Liverpool were sucker-punched.

A draw felt like defeat instead, and understandably so.

A difficult season ahead just got tougher.


This article was first published on September 28, 2014.
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