Draw a fair result in Merseyside thriller

Draw a fair result in Merseyside thriller


(Kevin Mirallas 8, Romelu Lukaku 72, 81)


(Philippe Coutinho 5, Luis Suarez 19, Daniel Sturridge 89)

So often, Merseyside derbies can be tense, nervous affairs, high on aggression, low on excitement.

Not this one.

Liverpool took an early lead, held it for barely three minutes and then regained their advantage before the first 20 minutes were up.

Everton came back after the break, took the lead through Romelu Lukaku and appeared to capture all three points.

And then, with just a minute to play, substitute Daniel Sturridge popped up to claim a share of the spoils.

It was breathless, high-octane stuff, it was a relentless assault on the senses. It was, it must be said, the fairest possible result.

There were heroes here for both sides of Stanley Park.

In red, Luis Suarez continued to assert himself as one of the world's finest attackers, a perfect hybrid of talent and application.

In blue, Lukaku suggested, not for the first time, that far from being as good as former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, he might actually be better.

With both managers having made their name at Swansea, creating teams that were both successful and easy on the eye, this was not a game short on technical accomplishment.

But this was not an afternoon for counting completed passes.

This was a game for warriors, a tussle that would be won by the team that wanted it the most.

And very few want it more than Lukaku and Suarez.

And they weren't the only ones. Some of them wanted it a little too much.

Had referee Phil Dowd been in a less understanding mood, significantly fewer players would have started the second half than the 22 who started the first.

Kevin Mirallas could easily have been given a straight red card for his attempt to amputate Suarez's leg at the knee.

The Belgian midfielder hit Suarez like a runaway train, his foot raised, his studs bared.

Dowd took an eternity to make up his mind, but settled for a yellow card. Towards the end of the half, it was Steven Gerrard whose afternoon hung in the balance.

Disputing an aerial ball with Gareth Barry, the England captain led with a raised elbow.

On another day, he could have been sent down the tunnel in disgrace. As it was, the real disgrace was the standard of defending.

Everton hadn't conceded a goal in three games before this match, but it took them just three minutes to spoil that run.

Philippe Coutinho's clever movement at a corner left the Toffees baffled and the Brazilian was able to take all the time he wanted before putting the ball into the back of the net.

Finishing touch

It wasn't long before Everton levelled, a lofted free-kick from Leighton Baines, won in the box by Ross Barkley and directed into the path of Mirallas for the finish.

But it was Suarez's goal, a low, curling free-kick from outside the box that whizzed into the bottom corner of the net, that really offended.

For reasons known only to himself, Steven Pienaar left a monstrous gap between himself and the rest of the wall.

Suarez needed no second invitation. Everton were undaunted.

Simon Mignolet saved Liverpool twice in the first half, first when he dashed off his line to deny Lukaku and then again when he threw himself low across his goal to turn Ross Barkley's swirling effort around the post.

Mignolet continued to frustrate Everton after the break, but he couldn't hold back the blue tide on his own.

Having just denied Lukaku from a long-range free-kick, the ball fell loose.

Liverpool couldn't clear their lines and, in defiance of all logic and common sense, no-one thought of marking Lukaku, who had slipped back into the penalty area like a shark into a bay full of swimmers.

This time, he made no mistake and it was no less than Everton deserved.

Brendan Rodgers said before the game that he had watched Daniel Sturridge for England in midweek and had felt that he "wasn't right".

He was right enough to arrive late in the second half and save the game. Gerrard's free-kick whistled into the box and Sturridge was there to nod in the equaliser.

Joy for Reds, despair for Blues, but when the dust settles, neither team could feel short-changed.

Poor defending isn't great for their Champions League ambitions, but it does make for an exciting afternoon of football.

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