Articles

No better way to beat the Blues as desperation becomes celebration to make Merseyside Red

By James Pearce
20:42, 2 DEC 2018

Anfield folklore has a new chapter after the most dramatic of finales to the 232nd Merseyside derby.

Liverpool have inflicted plenty of body blows to Everton over the years but few quite as devastating as this one. There just isn't a better way to beat the Blues.
The defining moment in the sixth minute of stoppage time was glorious and farcical in equal measure.

Virgil van Dijk's looping volley looked harmless but Jordan Pickford made an absolute hash of it as England's No 1 flapped and turned the ball on to the bar.
Substitute Divock Origi pounced and gleefully accepted the gift as he nodded home the rebound to become the most unlikely of derby heroes.
Cue mayhem. Absolute mayhem. Anfield was engulfed by ecstasy.

A manic Jurgen Klopp charged 40 yards on to the pitch and into the welcoming arms of Alisson Becker. Origi was mobbed by his team-mates in front of the Kop. Even the usually reserved Pep Lijnders set off down the touchline.
The killjoys will probably hit Klopp in the pocket for his outpouring of emotion but it will be worth every penny. This was priceless.

In the blink of an eye all the frustration of the previous 95 minutes was washed away.

Origi's name echoed around Anfield as the wild celebrations continued long after the final whistle. The Belgium striker will never have to buy another orange juice on Merseyside again.
His introduction for the struggling Roberto Firmino six minutes from time was hardly universally welcomed.

In fact it smacked of desperation. Origi had played just 11 minutes of first-team football all season having rejected the chance to sign for Wolves last summer.
He hadn't featured in the Premier League since the opening day of last season having endured a difficult loan spell at Wolfsburg.
How fitting that he should announce his return to the big stage against the Blues. His career has gone downhill since he was chopped down in his prime by Ramiro Funes Mori's X-rated challenge in this fixture two-and-a-half years ago and hopefully this will prove to be a turning point for him.

Liverpool are now unbeaten in 18 successive derbies and Everton's wait for a first win at Anfield this century continues.

But this was about so much more than local pride. Victory ensured that the Reds kept their Premier League title challenge on track by closing to within two points of Manchester City.
A ninth clean sheet in 14 league games extends the best start to a campaign defensively in the club's 126-year history.

How it remained goalless for so long will remain a mystery. The resurgent Blues contributed to an entertaining, open spectacle with both teams guilty of wasting some gilt-edged chances.
This is a new improved Everton under Marco Silva but, ultimately, they ended up with the same old sinking feeling across Stanley Park.

Klopp had responded to the midweek defeat to Paris Saint-Germain by reverting back to 4-2-3-1 with recalls for Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Everton showed more ambition in the opening five minutes than they did in the full 90 when Sam Allardyce was at the helm.

Yerry Mina should have made the breakthrough but inexplicably headed wide from Lucas Digne's free-kick. The marking was shoddy.
It was a wake-up call for Liverpool, who settled and started to play with a tempo and an intensity that's been lacking of late.

Fabinho grasped his chance in the absence of suspended captain Jordan Henderson.
The Brazil international snapped into tackles and used the ball intelligently as Sadio Mane darted in off the left to wreak havoc and Mohamed Salah's pace struck fear into Everton's backline.

The openings kept on coming. Salah's control let him down after a dinked pass from Mane and then Firmino couldn't get the touch needed to convert Shaqiri's curling cross.
Gini Wijnaldum launched a devastating counter by winning the ball back and Andy Robertson and Salah combined to tee up Mane but he lashed it over the bar.

An animated Klopp immediately turned to the fans behind him, throwing his arms in the air and demanding that they cranked up the volume. Anfield duly obliged.
Everton looked rattled but Liverpool were unable to make their pressure count. Firmino, who was horribly wasteful at times, turned and dragged his shot wide.

Having weathered the storm, the Blues came back into it. When Theo Walcott nodded Bernard's cross back across goal, Andre Gomes looked destined to score.
But Alisson spread himself and made a world class save. That's what £65million buys you. The ball then rolled goalwards off Gomes but Joe Gomez was alert to clear off the line.

Liverpool should have made Everton pay for that miss just past the half hour mark. Fabinho picked Idrissa Gueye's pocket and Salah put Shaqiri in the clear.
The derby debutant had time to pick his spot but fired straight at Pickford.

The Reds were in the ascendancy but they caused trouble for themselves at times by not tracking runners from midfield. There was relief when Walcott darted around Alisson but over-ran the ball.
The second half brought more of the same. Liverpool were in control but they got increasingly desperate in their search for a goal.

It was on a knife-edge and tempers got frayed. Combative Robertson took no backward steps and the Kop roared their approval for his show of fight.
The Scotland captain volleyed invitingly across goal but neither Firmino nor Mane could tuck it away.

Salah looked less than impressed when Klopp him off and brought on Daniel Sturridge. It was a strange move considering that Liverpool were crying out for inspiration.
Firmino's form remains a concern and he squandered another decent opening before he finally made way for Origi.
Everton were hanging on for dear life. Origi somehow conspired to hit the bar when he connected with Van Dijk's header a couple of yards out.

Referee Chris Kavanagh then failed to punish Gylfi Sigurdsson for handling Sturridge's strike in the box.

They would have been major talking points but for those crazy final few seconds.
Alisson took a free-kick short to Alexander-Arnold, who launched it into the box. Van Dijk and Origi did the rest with a helping hand from Pickford.

The Liver Building may be blue but the dominant force on Merseyside remains well and truly red.

MATCH FACTS 

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Firmino, Shaqiri (Keita 71), Firmino (Origi 84), Mane, Salah (Sturridge 75).
Not used: Mignolet, Milner, Moreno, Matip. 

Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson (Zouma 90), Walcott (Lookman 63), Richarlison, Bernard (Calvert-Lewin 89).
Not used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Tosun, Davies.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Goals: Origi 90+6
Bookings: Shaqiri, Fabinho, Gomez, Gomes, Sigurdsson.
Man of the match: Fabinho. Rose to the challenge brilliantly.

Copyright - The Liverpool Echo

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Liverpool player ratings vs Everton - Alisson and Fabinho star but Divock Origi is the hero
Ian Doyle runs the rule over Liverpool's performance after the Reds win the derby in the final minutes

By Ian Doyle Liverpool reporter
18:24, 2 DEC 2018Updated18:54, 2 DEC 2018

Alisson Becker 8
Two key saves first half, a brilliant reflex stop to keep out Gomes' point-blank header and then did enough to put off a rampaging Walcott.

Trent Alexander-Arnold 5
Some nervous moments and had trouble coping with Bernard, but was better when allowed to go forward although too many of his second-half deliveries were poor.

Joe Gomez 7
 Made a vital first-half goalline clearance after Gomes trickled in and was the home side's best defender. Booked.

Virgil van Dijk 6
Got away with a sloppy pass across his own goal early on, and was involved in a right battle with the dangerous Richarlison. Some heading a little awry.

Andy Robertson 7
Offering a regular outlet but Walcott's pace means he wasn't able to bomb forward as much as he'd want. Did more second half, and had a few choice words for Richarlison.

Fabinho 8
Very lively in the first quarter and put in some timely challenges as Everton came into the game towards the break. Easily his best game for the club.

Gini Wijnaldum 6
Got through a lot of work and keen to get in Everton faces, but was on occasion bypassed too easily. Tired second half.

Xherdan Shaqiri 7
Eager to get on the ball and buzzed in front of the Everton defence, but should have scored when sent clear before the break. Booked. Unlucky to be subbed.

Roberto Firmino 4
Had a nightmare minute when twice giving the ball away in dangerous positions and was guilty of dropping too deep in the first half. Improved marginally after the interval, but lucky to last 84 minutes before being hooked.

Sadio Mane 7
Liverpool's most lively attacker, creating openings for himself and team-mates. Missed good chances either side of the break, though, and close with another curler.

Mohamed Salah 6
In and around much of the forward play but other than a great ball set up Shaqiri's chance, limited impact in the first half. Much the same story second half, but wasn't impressed at being subbed.

Substitutes

Naby Keita (for Shaqiri 71) 6
Brought extra energy.

Daniel Sturridge (for Salah 75) 6
Saw a shot saved by Sigurdsson.

Divock Origi (for Firmino 84) 9
Created a chance then hit the bar from a yard. Then scored from a yard six minutes into injury time. What a story.

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