PREMIER LEAGUE DECEMBER 10, 2017: LIVERPOOL 1 EVERTON 1
Wayne Rooney’s second-half penalty earned Everton a point in the 229th Merseyside derby at Anfield.
The forward notched his first goal against Liverpool for the Toffees in the 75th minute after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had been pushed inside the area by Dejan Lovren.
Rooney’s spot-kick cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s opener, scored three minutes before the break.
On an ice-cold afternoon, Liverpool occupied more of the possession but encountered a well-organised, disciplined defensive performance from the Toffees.
The draw took Everton’s unbeaten run to four matches, following the recent wins over West Ham United, Huddersfield Town and Apollon Limassol, conceding just one goal in the process.
Sam Allardyce restored 10 of the 11 players who started in the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in the first match of his tenure as manager the previous weekend. The one alteration was the inclusion of Oumar Niasse who took the place of Aaron Lennon, meaning the Toffees began with two forwards; Calvert-Lewin leading the line alongside the Senegalese frontman.
Allardyce had been successful on his previous trip to Anfield last season, masterminding a 2-1 victory as boss of Crystal Palace in April. Prior to kick-off, both at his pre-match press conference and matchday interview, he reiterated that for a repeat away win, Everton’s players needed not to be overawed by the occasion and hype surrounding the 229th Merseyside derby. “It’s about getting the right balance, the right harmony and the right feeling in the dressing room for the lads to go out and explode and give their all in the game, using their intelligence as well as their ability,” issued Allardyce.
The opening moments passed by without too much incident, aside from an early effort from Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson which was safely watched over the bar by Jordan Pickford. The Blues then benefitted from an untimely slip from Sadio Mane inside the penalty area before Jonjoe Kenny, playing in his first Merseyside derby, made an important block to repel Salah’s goalbound attempt.
Everton were forced to withstand plenty of early pressure from the hosts but the Blues fought hard without the ball, digging in and getting bodies in the way to prevent Liverpool from creating anything clear-cut throughout the majority of the first half.
That was until the 42nd minute when Salah netted the game’s breakthrough goal. The Egyptian wriggled past Cuco Martina and Idrissa Gana Gueye’s challenges and bent a left-footed curler into the top corner, out of the reach of Pickford.
Liverpool then had two chances to go into half-time holding a greater advantage but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane were off-target with a volley and run-and-shot respectively.
Everton’s best chance to equalise came in first-half stoppage time when Sigurdsson brought a low save out of Simon Mignolet.
Allardyce altered things at the interval, making a double change. On came Morgan Schneiderlin and Lennon for Tom Davies and Niasse. The switch saw Rooney play further up the pitch and more centrally having been deployed on the right side during the opening half.
The Everton captain’s first involvement of the second half was to release Calvert-Lewin who raced onto a slide-rule pass but got caught in two minds between shooting and squaring to Sigurdsson.
This move came shortly after Salah had gone close to netting his and Liverpool’s second with a header that was guided narrowly past the post.
Mane acrobatically volleyed the ball into Pickford’s hands and the Everton keeper needed to get a touch on Chamberlain’s low centre from the right, as the second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Liverpool seeing more of the possession. Joe Gomez also placed a header onto the roof of the net.
Everton got themselves back level a quarter of an hour remaining through Rooney’s clinically dispatched penalty.
Calvert-Lewin latched on Rooney’s ball from deep and after controlling, he was sent to the turf inside the area by Dejan Lovren.
Up stepped Rooney to hammer home only the second Everton penalty awarded at Anfield since 1937.
It was enough to give the Blues a well-earned point as they battled hard in the closing stages to keep out their city rivals.