Liverpool salvaged a point with a late equaliser to draw 3-3 against Everton at Goodison Park. The Reds had been staring defeat in the face – having initially led in the Merseyside derby – before substitute Daniel Sturridge scored in the 89th minute to level the scores.
Sturridge had been the focus of a lot of attention pre-game, with the forward’s availability hanging in the balance after picking up a dead leg on international duty. Ultimately he was named on the Liverpool bench. The other talking point for fans was who would start in place of the injured Jose Enrique, and some would have been surprised to see Jon Flanagan given the nod ahead of more senior alternatives.
Everton were out of the blocks quickest, and the home side played at a high tempo in the early exchanges. First blood went to the Reds after just five minutes though.
Luis Suarez Got his head on Steven Gerrard’s corner and flicked it towards the back post, where it was met by Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian controlled the ball on his thigh before deftly flicking it past Tim Howard in the Everton goal to open the scoring.
The lead was not to last long however, and just three minutes later Kevin Mirallas had levelled the scores. The forward was first to react to a loose ball after Liverpool failed to deal with a Leighton Baines free-kick, and he made no mistake in slotting past a helpless Simon Mignolet.
It could have got worse after 12 minutes, when Romelu Lukaku broke free behind the Reds’ backline, but this time Mignolet was able to avert danger as he rushed out of his box quickly to win the race to the ball.
Liverpool weathered the storm though, and started getting back on the front foot again. After 19 minutes they were back in the lead.
Suarez won a free-kick in a central position just outside the box. The Uruguayan stepped up to take the set piece himself, and curled a superb effort into the bottom corner.
Everton were back on the offensive from the restart, and Mignolet was forced into action – turning Ross Barkley’s effort around the post. Next up was Mirallas, who saw his shot from distance go wide.
Mirallas could consider himself lucky to remain on the pitch shortly after the half-hour mark, as he went in on Suarez with his foot high and studs showing. The challenge drew blood and left Suarez needing treatment, but referee Phil Dowd decided the offence only warranted a caution.
The Reds held on to their one-goal lead into half-time, thanks in no small part to the fine form of Mignolet between the sticks.
The Liverpool keeper was on hand again to keep his side in the lead during the opening exchanges of the second half. Gerard Deulofeu – who had brought on for Leighton Baines in the 50th minute – found himself clean through on goal, but Mignolet was able to keep him out with an outstretched foot.
The result should have been put beyond doubt on 59 minutes, but Joe Allen made sure he had a game to remember for all the wrong reasons. Suarez had danced through half the Everton defence before the ball broke free to the Welshman. With the goal at his mercy the simplest of touches would have sufficed, but he somehow managed to put his effort wide.
The game started to open up, and the play flowed from end to end freely. Both sides threw caution to the wind as they went in search of the next goal, though the best chances fell to Everton.
And it was the home side that ultimately scored the next goal. Mignolet initially kept out Lukaku’s free-kick, but after a goalmouth scramble the Belgian forward found himself back on the ball and was able to beat his international team-mate.
Liverpool looked to reply quickly just their opponents had earlier in the game, and almost regained the lead six minutes later. Gerrard played a pinpoint cross into the box for Suarez, but he headed his effort directly at Howard.
Everton could smell victory themselves though, and Mignolet was once again called into action to deny Deulofeu twice in quick succession.
With eight minutes left on the clock disaster struck for the Reds, as they went behind for the first time in the game. Lukaku was the man to inflict the blow again, as he rose highest to meet a Mirallas corner with a powerful header into the top corner.
One thing that has been commented on by many fans is the resilience that Brendan Rodgers’ men seem to have developed this season, and this showed again as the devastating blow failed to knock the fight out of Liverpool. They pressed forward in search of an equaliser as Roberto Martinez looked to hold on to the lead – introducing defender John Stones in place of Steven Pienaar.
The Everton fans had found their voices with their side finally in the driving seat, but they were silenced on 89 minutes as Sturridge popped up to rescue a point for the Reds.
No doubt Rodgers would have rather rested the England forward completely, but had been forced to introduce him after Everton’s equaliser. The decision paid off though as the 24-year-old found himself perfectly positioned to get on the end of Gerrard’s free-kick to glance the ball into the top corner.
There were still four minutes of injury time to be played though, and neither side looked happy to settle for a point. There were chances at both ends in the closing exchanges, and Liverpool actually got the ball in the net – but Sturridge was correctly judged to have been offside.
Phil Dowd blew his whistle shortly after the allotted four minutes were up to bring the game to a close and confirm a draw which whilst disappointing is at least enough to see the Reds remain second in the league.