Two days before the birthday of Liverpool Football Club and one day before the ten year anniversary of Everton’s manager, David Moyes, one of the biggest matches for both clubs took place at Anfield. The 217th Merseyside Derby was billed as it always is; dangerous, exciting, clattering, and as always, loud. But on this occasion, when it meant so much to the red side of Liverpool, the fans and team responded the only way they know how.
An emotional start to the match with the mighty last words of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” still ringing around the match as Luis Suarez kicked off the match.
An early chance in the first minute saw Jordan Henderson’s cross cleared by Sylvan Distin. Noise from every corner poured onto the pitch and it seemed to spur the reds onto a high pressure attack in the first 10 minutes with shots raining down on Everton’s goal from attackers and defenders alike.
It wasn’t until the 23rd minute when Everton finally made a shout at goal when a corner was awarded and took a couple bounces and another corner as the visiting Blues gained confidence, because the next ten minute were theirs to bombard the Liverpool defence, but to no avail.
34 minutes in, Steven Gerrard set the stadium on fire with his cheeky chip from 15 yards after Martin Kelly’s inspired run ended in a deflected shot for the captain to coolly finish home.
It was a back and forth battle between the two rival sides until the whistle blew to signal the end of the first half, but it wasn’t the end of action on the pitch as the lone goal scorer of the day, Steven Gerrard, was seen limping into the tunnel.
Second half started off and it started with a bang after a Leighton Baines free kick led to Liverpool possession for the next six minutes and yet another goal for the home side after Jordan Henderson’s pass led Luis Suarez into the box, who skillfully danced around defenders near the touchline. The ball dropped off for the previously injured Gerrard toward the right side of the box, and his shot flew past goalkeeper Tim Howard and nearly through the net to make the scoreline two-nil and the captain’s name rang around the legendary stadium once again.
Four minutes later, the first booking of the match came to Everton’s Steven Pienaar in the 55th minute after a clash with a rival player.
A few moments later Everton saw the light and nearly broke through with Leighton Baines’ shot to the low far corner, but Jose Enrique’s heroic slide stopped the ball from crossing the threshold. Minutes after the chance, a rare triple substitution was seen at the 62nd minute when Nikla Jelavic, Royston Drenthe, and Leon Osman came on for Victor Anichebe, Seamus Coleman, and Dennis Stracqularusi, respectively.
Marouane Fellani and Nikla Jelavic nearly made themselves heroes in front of their fans but for a few inches to the left of the crossbar in the 64th minute after the substitutions.
An emotional few minutes for David Moyes and his Blues when the fans began to sing their appreciation for his ten years of service and hoping for more, and it seemed to work, giving Everton a look at goal, but yet again no goals themselves.
The 72nd minute saw the first substitution for the Reds as Jordan Henderson made way for Liverpool’s legendary Dutchman, Dirk Kuyt.
Leighton Baines was given the second booking of the match after he made a deliberate effort to fell Suarez right in front of the box, and the reds were awarded a free kick 20 yards out. Stewart Downing took the free kick, but Leon Osman used his head to block the shot and knock it into the middle of the pitch.
83 minutes was the time for yet another yellow card and yet another blue booking when referee Phil Dowd gave a yellow card to Royston Drenthe for his challenge on Jose Enrique.
Liverpool seemed to go on an all-out defence strategy in the 85th minute with all 10 outfield players in their own half, up until Rodwell and Drenthe had unsuccessful efforts toward goal.
88 minutes came by and the match was all but over, but not before two more Everton efforts at goal, and the fourth yellow card of the match as Tony Hibbert was cautioned for blasting the ball away during a stoppage of play, and Enrique was cautioned alike for his actions before that.
Four minutes of stoppage time was the word at 92 minutes and again the Liverpool fans made their famous atmosphere heard throughout the night and once again before Liverpool capped off the night with a lovely counter attack. Gerrard led the attack down the center of the pitch before passing the ball forward to Luis Suarez on the left side of the box. Suarez ran, paused, slightly tripped, and touched the ball to Steven Gerrard who once again scored on an open net for the second hat trick of his career and the first of the derby since 1982.
The whistle blew much to the relief of the Everton fans and to the absolute joy of the Liverpool fans. Goals from Steven Gerrard in the 34th, 51st, and 94th minute respectively were the net-rippling highlights of this 217th meeting between the two Scouse sides.
And so went yet another chapter in the Merseyside Derby, but it certainly was the one-sided affair few predicted it to be, as on paper, the match should have been much closer. Liverpool, for the time being, move into sixth place ahead of Newcastle United and Everton stay in ninth; level with Sunderland and just once point ahead of Fulham, Swansea, Norwich, and Stoke, and just four points ahead of 15th place.
Everton’s focus now shifts to their FA Cup quarterfinal fixture against Sunderland on Saturday. Liverpool will be riding a massive wave of momentum as Stoke City will come into Anfield for the reds’ Saturday FA Cup fixture.
Final score at Anfield; Liverpool 3, Everton nil.
Full match discussion here