Football: Derby draw encourages Liverpool boss Rodgers

LIVERPOOL - Brendan Rodgers said Liverpool were returning to their best form following a 1-1 draw with Everton in the Merseyside derby.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard scored his 10th goal in 32 appearances against their city rivals shortly after the hour mark in the Premier League contest at Anfield on Saturday.

However, Everton skipper Phil Jagielka ensured the 223rd meeting between the near neighbours ended all square when he equalised in injury time with a spectacular long-range strike.

Liverpool, last season's runners-up, have won just twice in six Premier League games so far this season but manager Rodgers insisted they were unfortunate not to have taken all three points.

"Certainly we didn't get what we deserved," he said.

"We were much the better side. When you concede a goal like that, it shows the luck that went against us.

"But I thought the intensity was getting back up to near where we have been for 19 months. Tactically, I thought we were very good in the game.

"We defended very well. We took the lead, we should have arguably had at least two more (goals) and we should have had a penalty," the Northern Irishman added.

"It was disappointing to only get a point, but I think the performance, which I'm clearly looking to at the moment, was at a much better level than we have been at.

"I never felt in any danger in the game. I felt the organisation was very good with good concentration and with the ball we were a real threat.

"When you concede so late, they virtually had nothing, it is a little bit frustrating." Rodgers singled out England midfielder Adam Lallana for praise and believes the influence of the close-season signing from Southampton will continue to grow over the course of the campaign.

"I thought Adam was outstanding," Rodgers said. "He came in to his first derby game and played with that quality and intensity.

"To deliver that performance was great because it shows me he is getting fitter and fitter. He was a constant threat." Liverpool were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Raheem Sterling's shot was blocked by the raised arms of Everton midfielder Gareth Barry, with Rodgers adamant that referee Martin Atkinson should have pointed to the spot.

Martinez proud of Jagielka

Meanwhile Everton manager Roberto Martinez insisted England centre-half Jagielka's goal was a just reward for the captain, who has been the subject of criticism for both club and country this season.

"I was so proud. He cares for this club like no-one else," Martinez said. "It was an example of his belief in himself and the responsibility he has.

"I don't think I have seen a better strike in live football," the Spaniard added.

"Someone like Phil takes responsibility and got a lot of unfair criticism from the outside. That is the way to face adversity.

"When you look at some of the reports of Phil's England performances, and because of our defensive record this season, there was talk of a World Cup hangover, and that was unfair." Martinez said the manner in which Everton battled back would give them confidence after a difficult start where they've won just once in six league matches and conceded 14 goals in the process.

"It was a real test of character," Martinez said. "We all know that for 15 years we have not won (at Anfield). What we got is the most pleasing result we had this season.

"Last season, was technically the best performance we gave and we lost 4-0. I couldn't be prouder to get a point." Everton will, however, have to do without Kevin Mirallas for a period after he limped out of the match with a hamstring injury. The Belgian winger now looks set for a spell on the sidelines.

"It is a bad hamstring, a bad soft tissue for Kevin," Martinez said. "It is getting used to playing so many games. It is unfortunate we lost someone like him."