Liverpool take smash and grab derby victory

Everton 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool produced a smash and grab Merseyside derby victory to claim fifth place in the Barclays Premier League on a day of raw tension at Goodison Park.

But they will have sighed with relief after being pounded for almost all of this very local showdown, but somehow emerged with the points.

An own goal from Joseph Yobo, deflecting a Javier Mascherano effort past Tim Howard saw Liverpool ahead at the break despite being almost permanently on the back foot as Everton poured forward.

But their eighth win in their last 10 visits to Goodison Park was secured with 10 minutes to go when Dirk Kuyt scored from close range after another Yobo error.

Everton were the dominant force, but could not turn their pressure into goals, with Liverpool now having lost just two of their last 20 league games against the old enemy.

Rarely can a Merseyside derby have been played out with both rival managers--David Moyes and Rafael Benitez--having had to handle questions over their longevity in their jobs.

The 212th clash between these bitterest of rivals certainly held the immediate futures of both seriously under-achieving clubs. Everton, fighting to get away from the relegation zone and Liverpool desperate to put their distressing season back on track.

Everton made four changes from the side that lost so poorly at Hull in midweek, Tony Hibbert, Jo, Marouane Fellaini and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov all returning with youngster Jack Rodwell the most notable omission with a groin injury.

Liverpool fielded the side that had won in Hungary against Debrecen, but could not save the Reds' Champions League lives.

And again there was no Fernando Torres in the squad, leaving young striker David Ngog to continue his Premier League education in the unforgiving glare of a derby battlefield.

With so much at stake, the opening exchanges were even more ferocious than usual. Mascherano and Tim Cahill traded kicks and warnings from referee Alan Wiley, with Cahill finding himself dumped on the track by the Argentina captain.

But it was Mascherano who was soon celebrating, having had a major part in Liverpool's 12th-minute lead.

Everton criminally allowed the midfielder to advance towards their box, where he lashed in a 20 yarder that deflected off Yobo and into the opposite corner than had been intended with Howard hopelessly wrongfooted.

It was the lead Liverpool had craved, but one that ignited a fierce and sustained response from Everton.

Twice they had the ball in the net before the break, but two efforts by Jo were ruled out for offside, the second when Fellaini blocked Jose Reina right on the line.

But there were other chances for Everton, with Bilyaletdinov managing to mis-hit wide from six yards when it would have been easier to score.

Reina saved from Russian winger, while the excellent Steven Pienaar was twice close as Everton surged forward in search of an equaliser they fully deserved.

Liverpool were barely noticeable up front, although Kuyt fired over and Howard made a fine save from Emiliano Insua's close-range header.

But they were rare excursions into enemy territory for Liverpool in a one-sided first-half.

Everton came out after the break intent on more of the same. They hurled themselves at Liverpool's creaking defence in which Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger were working overtime to keep the blue waves at bay.

Liverpool were hanging on under the most searching of examinations. Saha replaced Jo after 66 minutes, still Everton rolling relentlessly forward.

Yobo managed to deflect an Ngog effort wide, but that was a rare venture out by Liverpool.

Reina produced a stunning double-save from Cahill and then Fellaini, Liverpool penned back and defending with increasing desperation.

In all of this, Steven Gerrard was a peripheral figure. Clearly short of pace and movement he was unable to influence what was going on all around him, until taking a hand in the critical second goal.

Ngog was finally withdrawn with 15 minutes to go, Yossi Benayoun arriving to play on the right with Kuyt taking the central attacking role. Albert Riera was next into the fray, in place of Fabio Aurelio, somehow Liverpool still ahead.

But with 10 minutes left, all Everton's brave efforts came to nothing as Liverpool dealt them a sickening blow.

Reina's long clearance was headed down by Kuyt with Yobo slashing wildly at the ball. It fell to Gerrard who set up Riera for a shot that Howard pushed into the path of Kuyt, who stabbed home the second.

Ayegbeni Yakubu came off for Cahill, and Lucas Neill for a crestfallen Yobo. But it was all over for Everton, who will never know how they lost this one.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones