Carroll (71), Suarez (82)
Many will say that we made hard work of this Everton were down to ten men for the large majority of this game but we didn’t break them down until late on. However, to suggest this is to belittle the stubborn rearguard Everton displayed in a hot hostile atmosphere and the patience we showed which eventually paid dividends and enabled us to eventually come through. It was a measured and assured performance and, given the derby atmosphere, one that Kenny, the team and the fans can be proud of. A little over the top? No, it’s a derby game, it’s a win, our two big signings scored so stop moaning, the sun is shining, feel good!
Kenny made just one change from last week replacing Jordan Henderson with the derby hardened experience of Dirk Kuyt. The first fifteen minutes were scruffy and typical with both sides piling into each other and occasionally stopping to play a bit of football! The first chance of note fell to Suarez after Jagielka dallied on the ball allowing Kuyt to rob him and cross. Sadly the Uruguayan didn’t get enough “whip” on his header to beat Howard. Immediately after Everton bombed up the pitch and Reina was forced to tip over Cahill’s header.
Things improved as both sides found their feet and went at in the way one would expect from a game of this sort however, on twenty two minutes came the main talking point. Rodwell ploughed into Suarez contact was made with the player but also with the ball, and on balance I believe it was more deserving of a yellow than the red referee Atkinson brandished. Perhaps Atkinson thought Rodwell had his studs up however he was very close to the challenge and in the context of the game the decision was hasty and harsh. Surely referees should make allowances for games such as this when the players are more physical than normal? Not so Mr Atkinson and he compounded his error by only booking Cahill soon after for a studs up tackle on Charlie Adam which, arguably, was worse that Rodwell’s?
So thanks to the sending off instead of a good old fashioned derby with end to end stuff we had the prospect of Everton sitting back and inviting us to break them down? Was this what everyone had paid to see? Why can the whim of one man, who leads the list of red cards issued by Premiership refs this season, change things in this way?
The imbalance was reflected in the possession we had (loads) but Everton remained resolute and as well as pragmatic granting us plenty of space over most of the pitch but being mean in the final third. Suarez hit the side netting and it was not until just before half time that we managed to get something resembling a breakthrough. Even then we had to rely on Jagielka upending Suarez on the corner of the penalty area. Kuyt’s penalty looked OK at first sight however his run up was predictable enabling Howard to easily read it and dive the right way.
The referee now appeared to be losing it. Adam was fouled by Hibbert again the tackle was worse than Rodwell’s but no card. Adam was clearly in discomfort however Atkinson, just ignored him and allowed play to go on! Adam then went into “Incredible Hulk Mode” and clearly enraged at the referee’s decision he picked himself up got the ball and, as if in a fit of peak, smacked a cracking effort against the bar. It was last significant move before half time, no inroads however, time and the advantage were still with us?
We began the second half tentatively Carroll had a few headers and Lucas a wild slice into the crowd. We allowed Saha to have a few long range attempts repeating the old pre season bad habit of backing off and not closing the man down. Gerrard, slowly increasing his match minutes, and Bellamy were introduced after the hour. If nothing they would give fresh legs against a ten man Everton that were surely tiring? This proved to be the case, Bellamy slid in the overlapping Enrique, his cross was heading towards Kuyt however he knew someone was behind and in a better position so he executed an unselfish duck. It was Andy Carroll and he made no mistake scoring a goal that bookmarks the improvement we saw from him at Anfield a week ago.
As the game progressed and Everton tired we made and more openings. Suarez who was being booed at every touch despite his innocent involvement in the penalty and the sending off, was at the heart of things, so it was no surprise he was involved in killing the game off. Baines and Distin got in each others way trying to tidy up after foiling a Suarez run however our man was still loitering and seized on the loose ball that was consequence of this indecision and side footed past Howard. It was an easy but deserved goal for the Uruguayan. Kuyt nearly added to the lead when he hit the post at the death
As the clock wound down the Everton fans, knowing the game was up, contented themselves with throwing bottles and coins at Suarez and Bellamy whenever they came over to take a corner. Presumably there were no toys or prams nearby?
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Vellios 78), Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Coleman (Drenthe 59), Cahill, Osman (Neville 69), Fellaini, Rodwell, Saha Substitutes: Mucha, Neville, Bilyaletdinov, Drenthe, Barkley, Stracqualursi, Vellios
Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel, Downing (Bellamy 67), Lucas (Henderson 88), Adam (Gerrard 67), Suarez, Carroll, Kuyt, Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Flanagan, Gerrard, Henderson, Spearing, Bellamy