Liverpool's late larceny

McAllister's injury-time strike secures derby double

It may have been chaotic, its spiteful edge never blunted amid the flurry of yellow cards, but Liverpool emerged from the 164th Merseyside derby last night with their first success at Everton since 1990.

Gary McAllister, a calm head amid the mayhem, catapulted Gerard Houllier's side to victory with an astonishing 44-yard free-kick in stoppage time.

With Paul Gerrard expecting a cross, McAllister hit a dipping shot into the goalkeeper's bottom right-hand corner; Gerrard left the field with the angry words of his team-mate Michael Ball ringing in his ears.

"We deserved it," said Houllier, whose side had lost Igor Biscan after the Croatian was shown two of the match's 12 yellow cards. "We stayed calm, even with 10 men, and Gary had a tremendous game. We were strong and solid and the winner was a very justified reward for the players."

"It was a bit frantic, particularly at the end, and we were slow to react to the free-kick," said Everton's manager Walter Smith. "But I'm not going to place the blame on one person. The manner of the defeat was disappointing."

The goal provided the sting in the tail of a rumbustious contest. A less than well respected minute's silence in memory of the Hillsborough disaster set the tone. Everton, who had six players booked, now face a £25,000 fine from the FA; Liverpool will lose Biscan for one match as they retain their interest in three competitions.

Yet the niggles merely added to the flavour of a wondrous contest, which saw the visitors ahead before the whirlwind opening had blown itself out. Jamie Carragher's handball, stifling Duncan Ferguson in the air, was missed as he bundled clear of a cluttered area. The ball was gathered by Dietmar Hamann via Robbie Fowler and, with Everton over- committed, Emile Heskey collected the German's astute pass, held off the retreating Steve Watson and thumped in his 21st goal of the season.

The play rattled along at breakneck pace with chances gleaned more from panic-strewn defending than any attacking poise. Kevin Campbell's ball into the area was squared by Scot Gemmill but Ferguson, looking decidedly ring-rusty, missed his kick; the pandemonium was epitomised by Sami Hyypia's fluffed clearance to Watson and Sander Westerveld's pathetic flap at the full-back's cross, although Gemmill's improvised header drifted wide.

While the visitors attempted to draw Everton's sting, easing passes into what little space existed, the home side muscled their way in among nervy defenders and three minutes before the interval found reward. Ferguson flicked Ball's pass into the area for Campbell to chase and, although Carragher stretched to prod the ball away from the striker's feet, the Scot held off his team-mate Gemmill to crash in the equaliser.

The goal should have given the home side a half-time fillip. Instead it was Liverpool who broke after soaking up a corner with Fowler accepting Hamann's 60-yard pass. Running unchecked into the area he squared the ball for Vladimir Smicer but the pass was deflected off Ball and rolled behind two back-pedalling defenders for Markus Babbel, arriving unmarked, to finish into the far corner.

Within a minute Richard Gough had been cruelly penalised as Fowler crumpled in the area only for the striker, stuttering in his run-up, to strike his penalty against the goalkeeper's left-hand post. Biscan's subsequent dismissal - Liverpool's third in four Premiership contests - and David Unsworth's equaliser from the spot after Hyypia was penalised for holding down Ferguson suggested the visitors might pay for such profligacy.

Then came a frenzied finish before McAllister, who moved the ball forward once the referee had turned his back, had his fun. "We had the belief to win this game," Houllier added. "We deserved it."

Everton (1) 2 - 3 (1) Liverpool
Ferguson (42)
Unsworth (83) pen Heskey (5)
Babbel (57)
McAllister (90)

Gerrard; Abel Xavier, Ball, Gough (Alexandersson), Unsworth, Watson, S (Pistone), Weir; Gemmill; Campbell, Ferguson, Nyarko.

Westerveld; Babbel, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia; Biscan, Hamann, McAllister; Fowler (Vignal), Heskey, Smicer.

Referee: J. T. Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

Attendance: 40,260

Everton: Ball (9) Ferguson (42) Gerrard (60) Gough (60) Unsworth (80) Alexandersson (90)
Liverpool: Biscan (10) Hamann (66) McAllister (82) Carragher (83) Henchoz (87)

Sent off
Everton: None
Liverpool: Biscan (10)

Everton: 19
Liverpool: 15

Everton: 2
Liverpool: 1

Goal attempts
Everton: 10
Liverpool: 10

On target
Everton: 7
Liverpool: 6

Hit woodwork
Everton: 0
Liverpool: 1

Everton: 2
Liverpool: 5

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001

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