We began at The Brick… or at least outside The Brick as it was so busy inside even at around 11am. It was a god laugh catching up with the guys outside the pub. The vibe and buzz around the ground intensified as we edged closer and closer to kick-off. About 30 minutes before kick-off, the nerves started to jangle. For those who don’t get to the game often, you can see how excited they are attending their first Merseyside Derby – Katja’s friend from work just couldn’t stop smiling – whilst more experienced campaigners like myself have seen far too many disappointments over the years that I now go into derbies with more of an air of caution than the pent-up raging bull I used to be in my youth. You still can’t help but be excited as you hustle through the turnstile, Z-Cars booms out and Goodison roars though I wasn’t anticipating much other than defeat which perhaps explains my then-negative tone.
I should have gleaned more encouragement from the starting line-ups however. I was delighted to see Ross Barkley unleashed for his first Merseyside derby and didn’t he respond well to that opportunity! The rest of the team was as you were with Mirallas retaining his place in the side despite some rank average performances of late. The real encouragement was in Liverpool’s line-up with the relatively inexperienced Jon Flanigan playing at left back, and with Daniel Sturridge only at 50/50, Brendan Rodgers opted to leave the England front man on the bench and play an extra midfielder in Joe Allen rather than add a different striker into the mix. Phil Dowd – usually one of the better referees in my opinion – officiated and Everton won the toss, attacking towards the Park End in the first half.
We began brightly though, before we knew it, with Liverpool’s first attack, found ourselves behind. It’s quite amazing that all six goals in the game were from set-pieces. Neither Martinez or Rodgers need to have the brain of a Nuclear Scientist to see where they need to tighten up as many of the game's goals were avoidable, especially the first two. How Coutinho found himself in so much space just six yards from goal was criminal though credit to the little Brazilian as he finished the opportunity well.
Similarly, Liverpool won’t have been most chuffed with their slack defending for our quick leveler, Mirallas pouncing to jab home after they failed to deal with Baines's original delivery. Further to just the defending from the goals, you have to look at why we conceded the corner in the first instance. It was poor from Coleman who I don’t think really had to head that ball out. Similarly it was quite an unnecessary free kick for Lucas to give away which lead to our equalizer. Regardless it was 1-1 after only eight minutes. Not a bad start to a Merseyside Derby at all.
The pace of the game intensified. It looked to all of us completely unbiased guys that Lukaku should have won a penalty and Mignolet should have been sent off as Lukaku seemed to be tripped as he went through on goal. I’ve seen it since and still can’t make my mind up but that no Everton players appealed probably tells its own story.
We were rocking, edging Liverpool for play and creativity. Barkley came mighty close to putting us ahead with an amazing dribble before he cut back inside from the left edge of the penalty area and curled an effort towards goal which Mignolet had to be very alert to save. It was very Kanchelskis. Ross was almost bossing this game at this point, playing fearlessly. He dipped a little once he’d gotten booked for diving (I haven’t seen it since so don’t know if it was a dive or not) but had a cracking game, spearheading our midfield attack throughout.
Suarez went down in stages to win Liverpool a free kick (though there was contact from Barry). It was quite a distance out but he took it well, curling it just round the wall and into Howard’s bottom left corner. I was pretty livid with Howard at the time as I thought he should have saved it but, having seen the replay since, you have to say it was a lethal free kick. Only criticism would perhaps be leveled at Steven Pienaar for breaking away from the wall as he tried to charge. This created a little gap which Suarez exploited.
20 minutes gone and with the way we’d played up until then, you didn’t feel as though we deserved to be behind. It shocked the players a bit and they didn’t really get going again until the second half. The major talking point in the remainder of the first half was Kevin Mirallas's challenge on Luis Suarez. In the heat of the moment, it looked just a 50-50 ball and that they’d both gone in for it, though the replays show it was a very poor challenge from Mirallas and he should have bee sent off for it. Not that I’m criticizing the Belgian.
Every time I watch Suarez and he rolls around like he’s been shot, I turn to Katja and say “I wish somebody would really kick him” — so I’m glad Mirallas did it, particularly as Suarez ruined his season last season with a very naughty tackle. He was running riot in last seasons Merseyside Derby until Suarez took him out of the game (and four subsequent months of the season) so my only regret is that Suarez wasn’t injured from Mirallas's tackle. It was well worth the booking.
After quickly checking on the other guys at the break, all up in the higher Gods of the Lower Gwladys, I came back to my seat to see Kevin Campbell and Lee Carsley introduced to the crowd. Both derby heroes, yes... though it does emphasis the paucity of our success over Liverpool in recent years.
The second half began and it was mesmerizing stuff from both teams. A really entertaining contest with both teams very committed and showing good technical play on the ball. Baines was replaced early with Barry switching to left back and Deulofeu introduced. He had a fantastic opportunity to level the game when put through on goal but he didn’t really test Mignolet with his shot and the chance went away.
We had a number of opportunities before we did level the game with Mignolet possibly even man of the match as he denied Lukaku on two further occasions also, though the real turning point in the game came at the other end when Suarez somehow bundled his way through our defence and the ball fell to Joe Allen of all people. Well, I suppose if it fell to anyone you’d probably want it to fall to him. As far as £15m signings go, he’s as good as useless and he really did highlight that spectacularly, woefully side-footing wide from probably about eight yards out with most of the goal to aim at. A real, real let off for Everton — and I’m really not lying when I say “I could have scored that”.
So we got out of jail there but nobody could say we didn’t deserve our equalizer and how well crafted it was too. Barkley won a free kick in a similar position to that of Suarez’s. A few players stood around it but Lukaku drove it at goal. It deflected off the wall but Mignolet made an excellent save and pushed the ball away. Mirallas was alert and got there before Mignolet could and kept the ball alive. Pienaar, Barry and then Mirallas combined very nicely and Mirallas picked out his compatriot Lukaku (also via a slight touch from I think Deulofeu) and this time Lukaku made no mistake and rolled home, his other compatriot Mignolet unable to keep it out. It was hugging strangers time as Goodison erupted!
If that was some feeling, then — 10 minutes later — it was a sensation when Lukaku put us ahead for the first, and only, time in the game. Deulofeu was twice denied by Mignolet in quick succession, the second time resulting in a corner kick. Mirallas swung in and Lukaku powered home a header, very Big Dunc, and the roof lifted off Goodison Park. Everyone went berserk but I just stood there elated. It’s very un-Everton to come back to win a game like this and I didn’t know how to take it. I was so taken aback. Just eight minutes to hold on and we’d have beaten Liverpool!
Sadly, we couldn’t hold firm. Distin gave away quite a soft free kick due to a high boot on Moses and Gerrard’s ball in was pinpoint, substitute Daniel Sturridge heading home but Everton will no doubt be disappointed with the marking, particularly in the last minute of the game and with another centre-back on by now in Stones. I could live with Sturridge if not for that stupid dance of his. Someone really should tell him it’s not cool.
So game over? Nope. This amazing match continued to surprise. Howard stopped a Suarez half-volley as Liverpool pressed for the winner although, right at the death, McCarthy found himself in Liverpool’s box but just couldn’t get his shot past the three defenders in front of him and it was blocked with the last action of the game. Rather than give us the corner, Dowd blew for full time to end probably the most pulsating Merseyside Derby since the 4-4 draw in the FA Cup in 1991. A draw definitely a fair result.
Following the match, we took the train back into Liverpool City Centre and enjoyed a good few ales in the Ship & Mitre before moving on to a few other bars. It was a really good day with everyone, Blues and Reds both a little disappointed not to have won though at the same time relieved not to have lost — if ever there was a game when football won, this was it. A truly great advert for the game. I can only be encouraged with Everton’s performance. You sensed they believed they would get something out of the game and never stopped trying and never gave up.
Now let's do it again next weekend and get climbing up that table. Now we know we can more than match them, let's do it at Old Trafford and Emirates and you just never know where we could end up.
Player Ratings:Howard: I thought he was at fault for their second goal but this wasn’t the case having seen the replay. Made some important saves late in the game also and distributed pretty well. 7
Baines: Was doing fine until he got injured. It’s a shame as we have to make the most of Baines if, as expected, he leaves in January. 6
Distin: Handled Suarez very well indeed I thought. Will be disappointed to have conceded three goals from set-pieces but he was the pick of the centre-backs I think. 7
Jagielka: OK positionally but didn’t distribute the ball particularly well. 6
Coleman: At fault early on for giving away a soft corner but he stuck at Coutinho very well and did a decent job at right back in the main. Perhaps didn’t get forward as much as he’d have liked. 6
Barry: Good. Adapted to left back extremely well and got forward confidently. Proving to be a good signing. Good to know he can cover Baines's position if necessary also. 7
McCarthy: Scrapped away in the middle. The sort of player you need in a derby. I’m looking forward to seeing him when he’s settled in and firing on all cylinders. 6
Pienaar: Did well. A very busy display throughout. Always hassling them on the ball and using it well himself. 7
Mirallas: It could easily have gone to Barkley but Mirallas is my Man of the Match. A goal and two assists and finally he put in quite a gutsy display and caused them a lot of problems. I’m glad he got his retribution on Suarez also. It’s not the sort of thing you really like to see but, when it’s Suarez, it’s another story. I really hope Mirallas can keep up that level of performance now. He was quite excellent. 9
Barkley: Awesome, fearless display from Barkley. He dipped a little after his yellow and was shattered by the end but what a display. Unlucky not to have assisted or even scored in this one. A fabulous effort. We’ve got to hope we can keep him. We could really mould a team around Barkley and as he matures he will get better and better. A truly phenomenal player. 9
Lukaku: It may sound insane given he scored two but I don’t think he really had that great a game. Scored a lovely header and took his other goal well but I just thought he might have shown a bit more movement in and around the box. Still, how can I complain? Two crucial goals. I think we might just see another Belgian double act against Stoke City next week. 6
Deulofeu (for Baines): Caused them problems on the left and the right. Should have scored with a good chance but he did well. We really do have some great options in attack with Mirallas, Pienaar, Barkley, Deulofeu, Osman, Barkley and Naismith all able to play a number of roles in attack. Who’d have thought we’d be able to develop such competition with what we’ve got. 7
Stones (for Pienaar): The substitution was made just after we scored to make it 3-2 but I didn’t quite understand it as he was getting readied before we scored. I don’t know if the plan was to go three at the back or actually even exactly where he played as he was the other end of the pitch and I didn’t see much of him. Hard to judge him really. 6
Osman (for Mirallas): A good sub as we were defending our lead at the time. He got involved and had a hand in what could have been a winner at the very death. He’ll stay involved Osman for sure. 7
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956 Posted 24/11/2013 at 18:45:48
The same was famously said about Fred Pickering just after he scored a hatrick.
If Lukaku was that kind of poor in every game from now to seasons end we could win the league.
963 Posted 24/11/2013 at 19:37:13
964 Posted 24/11/2013 at 19:45:34
992 Posted 24/11/2013 at 20:34:17
003 Posted 24/11/2013 at 21:04:00
Barkley was sensational at times. McCarthy bossed the middle of the park. Pienaar was well up for it with bags of energy and good link-up play. Mirallas came alive. Lukaku bagged 2 and could have had 5. Delboy caused havoc. Jags and Distin kept SewerRat mostly quiet.
The fact that the main man for Liverpool was their keeper tells a story.
Cracking game. Gutted we didn't hold on, but hugely proud of what I saw out there. Credit to Martinez for sending us out there with all guns blazing.
035 Posted 24/11/2013 at 21:53:44
He was a hugely succesful goal scorer, probably our best in that department post war. He was a less than useless ball player, despite his large frame he was not very good in the air and Leon Osman was faster than him.
At his previous club Blackburn Rovers, Fred had only recently been converted to centre forward from his usual position as full back. Signed by us for (I think) $80,000 and when he arrived we were going through a goal famine.
Built like a brick dunny with legs like tree trunks his greatest and probably only real ability was a tremendous accurate shot with both feet. For such a big fellow he could get that shot away with little back lift.
A leg injury cut short his career and after a long recuperation never quite regained full fitness and opted for a transfer to Birmingham City.
His illustrious Everton career was brief and I am dissapointed yet not surprised that modern fans know little about our goal scoring wonder.
051 Posted 24/11/2013 at 22:43:32
054 Posted 24/11/2013 at 23:44:45
072 Posted 25/11/2013 at 02:45:36
Top comment, Phil Friedman. I wouldn't mind if he had fag or two either.
073 Posted 25/11/2013 at 03:20:52
074 Posted 25/11/2013 at 03:11:59
076 Posted 25/11/2013 at 03:49:13
Come back on here and explain which game you were watching!
148 Posted 25/11/2013 at 12:13:54
So who was worth more?
And to make it clear I agree with Phil #051, 2 goals from a striker is a good performance, I just wish people would understand that stopping a goal is equally as important as scoring a goal.
151 Posted 25/11/2013 at 12:50:14
158 Posted 25/11/2013 at 13:07:58
That's poor mate from an Evertonian — no matter what we think of the sewer rate I thought Evertonians were known for their fairness. At the end of the day, he's a world class player with shit antics which no Evertonian would condone. But to suggest deliberate injury is in poor taste mate.
160 Posted 25/11/2013 at 12:52:18
However, Pienaar was awful and SuperKev was inconsistent. Barkley had a great game, but I expect more from Lukaku, which sounds ridiculous when he scored two. His strength disappointed me at times. The Spanish Kid just annoys me, a luxury we don't seem to be able to afford in most games. Right that's off my chest, bring on Stoke with 3 at the back?!!
297 Posted 25/11/2013 at 20:45:42
339 Posted 26/11/2013 at 00:46:52
Nice report Paul. Ratings pretty good also.
341 Posted 26/11/2013 at 01:59:46
441 Posted 26/11/2013 at 18:00:07
McCarthy seems to have a calm head when in possession,he just does it simple,which at times can be a hard thing to do. his closing down is top-notch as well.
I can't think of a similar player of his age I would swap him for? Very underrated young man.
458 Posted 26/11/2013 at 19:06:09
Had another look at the above ratings. McCarthy 6 Hmmm. Have to agree with you . He was worth more than that but the inadequate rating is understandable. It's actually something we discussed soon after he arrived. The lad is almost invisible. Everyone else is dead easy to pick out but McCarthy does many things which are not noticed, Even by the commentator. I suggested he got himself a big haircut and one of the other members suggested a luminous tache. Do you have any ideas? Your well known creative imagination might well come up with a useful solution.
544 Posted 27/11/2013 at 01:15:36
555 Posted 27/11/2013 at 07:47:20
668 Posted 28/11/2013 at 02:42:21
670 Posted 28/11/2013 at 04:35:10
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