Everton 3 Liverpool 3: I thought I would be show red card for Luis Suarez foul, admits Kevin Mirallas

The toffees forward was incredibly fortunate to remain on the pitch

Football Correspondent

All six goals from set pieces and a challenge by Kevin Mirallas on Luis Suarez which the Belgian admitted had followed a sharp comment from him to the Uruguayan – and for which he conceded he was lucky not to be dismissed.

The 221st Merseyside derby certainly defied the idea that it would be saccharine. It also scrambled the notion that Everton, the better side in Saturday’s 3-3 draw, are a year behind Liverpool in the art of the passing game.

The match had only just kicked off when Mirallas reminded Suarez of how he put his studs into his foot in last season’s Goodison derby, a challenge which deprived Everton of his services in the second half. “When we were standing close to each other, I said ‘Do you remember last season, you kicked me?’” Mirallas admitted. “He laughed and said, ‘Yes, fair enough.’ But that tackle was nothing to do with a year ago.”

When he went in so high on Suarez, he was preparing to be dismissed. “Sometimes when you put a tackle in you think ‘Oh shit,’ like this one. The first thing I thought was that it was going to be a red card. I was genuinely going for the ball but I know I caught him on the knee.” Referee Phil Dowd was too well positioned to cite this in his match report as something he missed. Retrospective punishment is therefore unlikely.

The post-match inquest on this flashpoint obscured Liverpool’s deeper cause for concern – the sight of Everton comfortably breezing through their midfield to create so many opportunities that it took half a dozen outstanding saves from Simon Mignolet to save them. The holes in that midfield became a fully-formed crater when Lucas Leiva was unfathomably chosen to make way for Daniel Sturridge with the score 2-2.

The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, ruminated on the uneven levels of commitment he had been offered by his players, questioning how much Sturridge is sometimes ready to give for the cause. Rodgers considers the player’s conduct as questionable as the Football Association’s in relation to his 90 minutes for England against Germany with a thigh injury, which left him too indifferent in training on Friday to make the starting XI. The decision was down to “the Association, the player,” Rodgers said. “ I have seen it before [with Sturridge]. There are maybe some games when he hasn’t played well and that has happened on the back of not training. It is very simple for me: you have to put yourself on the training field. If you do that, you will be in with a chance of playing.”

The contrast with debutant Jon Flanagan’s performance, in the teeth of Mirallas’s threat, was remarkable and it was Steven Gerrard’s analysis which put the 20-year-old’s performance into perspective. “One of the best derby performances I have seen for many years,” was how Gerrard described it. “He’s been fighting hard in training just to get in the 18, never mind the starting 11. He reminds me of [Jamie] Carragher in a lot of ways. I don’t think you would judge Jon in terms of ability or skill, but he is all about heart, desire, determination and fighting for the cause.”

Rodgers expressed bafflement that the single approach to take Flanagan on loan has come from a League One club but Aly Cissokho’s unconvincing start at left-back suggests that the Liverpudlian may profit from Jose Enrique’s two-month lay-off and be staying just where he is.

There was far less noise surrounding Everton’s afternoon. Roberto Martinez’s concerns about his defence’s vulnerability might have been more anguished had Everton not been spared by Joe Allen’s breathtaking second-half miss. “From a technical point of view he has the quality to be clinical in those positions, but confidence is a major thing,” Martinez said of Allen, whom he knows well from their Swansea days. But Martinez’s side played some gorgeous football. Phil Jagielka is the prime example of the fact that relearning the game need not take an eternity. Ross Barkley looks as if Martinez has been managing him all his life.

The Spaniard’s biggest challenge was to douse talk of a top-four finish – “too early; ask in March” – but nothing can disguise early signs he will build a big reputation at Goodison.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas