Liverpool had to settle for a goalless draw with Everton in an unusually quiet Merseyside derby at Anfield.
|As a result the gap between the two clubs in the league remains at five points, but with just two games remaining it is all but certain that Everton have won the battle for sixth place.As could be expected Anfield was a cauldron of noise in the build up to kick-off. Marouane Fellaini almost dampened the spirits of the home fans though on 17 minutes, when he beat Jamie Carragher to get on the end of a Leighton Baines free-kick with a shot that was narrowly off-target.
The best chance of the first half for Liverpool fell to Steven Gerrard – who was only kept out by an excellent challenge from Phil Jagielka – but beyond that clear openings for either side were few and far between.
The Reds came out for the second half with renewed vigour, and it took only three minutes after the restart to threaten the Everton goal. Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge – both playing in their first Merseyside derby – combined well, with the Brazilian playing a perfectly weighted ball through to his colleague. Sturridge rounded Tim Howard, but took the ball too wide in the process and was unable to finish.
Everton found the back of the net just before the hour mark from a corner, but the whistle had already gone for a Liverpool free kick before Sylvain Distin had met the ball with his head.
This worrying moment didn’t appear to knock Liverpool off their stride though, and they pushed forward in search of a winner.
First Coutinho tested Howard with a driven shot after Glen Johnson’s cross found it’s way through to him, but his shot was directly at the American keeper. Then Gerrard did get the better of the Everton stopper, only for Distin to be waiting behind his team-mate to clear up.
As full time approached though Liverpool seemed to be running out of ideas, and the best chance for the rest of the game fell to Daniel Agger – who failed to make proper contact with a Gerrard free-kick.
Victor Anichebe forced a good save from Pepe Reina as the game neared a close – with the Liverpool keeper managing to puch the Nigerian striker’s shot onto the post – but this was a rare foray forward for the visitors in a second half that was only marginally more interesting than the first.
Ultimately both defences held firm to ensure an even share of the spoils. Not very often it can be said of the Merseyside derby – but this was one to forget!