Rafa Benitez didn't come out the happier of the two managers at the end of his first Merseyside derby. Despite looking the more likelier side to come away with all three points, Liverpool crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Everton who held on with Euro2004 Greek-like determination. Lee Carsley's goal settled the tie for the home side.
The Spanish boss raised a few eyebrows by making more than just a couple of changes to the side that beat Olympiakos in midweek. Salif Diao was deemed to be more suitable to the battling conditions than Xabi Alonso who was relegated to the bench. Didi Hamann returned to the starting eleven. Josemi replaced Finnan at right fullback. Baros was rested and Neil Mellor played unfront with Florent Sinama-Pongolle starting at right wing.
The first half started as what you would expect from a derby match. Fierce tackles were flying in and Neil Mellor got Liverpool's first opportunity. His flick from Steven Gerrard's freekick was just wide off the mark.
Everton's Tim Cahill then somehow managed to miss the target with his header. Under no pressure from a Red shirt, Cahill came up with a contender for Miss of the Season by heading wide. Mellor then almost opened the scoring for Liverpool but his header found the palms of Nigel Martyn. The young striker could had done better but credit has to be given to the veteran keeper for the save.
After the break opportunities were scarce and Salif Diao was almost an unlikely scorer when he volleyed the ball just over from 18 yards. But the game sprang into life on 68 minutes. Leon Osman who was having a good game for the Toffeemen squared the ball to Carsley just outside the box. The bald midfielder curled the ball past two players and Kirkland beaten who didn't have a clear view of the shot had no chance at all.
Liverpool put on the pressure and Steven Gerrard came close to equalising for the visitors. Cutting in from the left, the Reds skipper faked a shot, fooled Carsley before unleashing a stinging shot. But Nigel Martyn was alert to the danger and pushed the ball over the bar. David Moyes sensed that Rafa Benitez's side were looking more desperate and more dangerous. He reacted by bringing on the defensive duo of Steve Watson and Joseph Yobo. There were still a lot of panic in the Everton box but they hung on for their first victory over Liverpool at Goodison Park since 1997.
Disappointment for the Reds who failed to build on their momentum after the impressive display against Olympiakos. They won't have to wait too long to bounce back. Portsmouth visit Anfield on Tuesday....
Chris was looking very shaky and uncomfortable in the Liverpool goal. There was once when he flapped a cross and got no where near the ball and then in the second half, he was lucky to get protection from the referee after failing to hold on to the ball in the air.
Jose Miguel Gonzalez Rey
Why the heck did Josemi return to the starting eleven? I guess the only answer I can give is that Finnan was too tired after the midweek exertions. To be fair to him, he did okay. But it was an unnecessary challenge that earned him a booking. 5 yellows already, a suspension is coming up...
One of Liverpool's best players on the day. Everton got many of their goals this season from set-pieces and Carra did well on many occasions to head the ball away during those dead-ball situations in the match.
Cool and calm under pressure. Good game for the big Finn. Could have scored in the first half with a superb volley after doing well to bring down Stevie Gerrard's cross. Had a little schoolboy scuffle with Duncan Ferguson near the end of the match.
Not one of his best games. Leon Osman's trickery troubled him more than just once and he too earned a yellow card for a late challenge.
Flo Po did well considering that right wing is not his natural position. But he was unlucky to find the Everton leftback Alessandro Pistone in good form. He was later replaced by Djimi Traore.
This kind of games suited the Senegalese international midfielder. He was guilty of
getting an unneccessary yellow card but he still did well and battled hard for the ball.
He was a lot fresher than many of the other Liverpool players after being suspended for the Olympiakos match but he was struggling to cope with the pace and high-tempo of the game. Was later brought off for Antonio Nunez.
Stevie G had a good game playing just behind Neil Mellor. But it was a shame that he didn't get the result that his performance deserved. Could have scored with a couple of efforts but it just wasn't his or Liverpool's day.
He did well to trouble Tony Hibbert with some intelligent runs but soon fizzled out as the game went on. Rafa tried to get him into the game by putting him upfront near the end of the match but he still underperformed.
Despite the good save by Nigel Martyn, Neil really should have scored from Gerrard's freekick. He did himself no favours by heading the ball straight at the keeper. He deserves an A for his effort though and did fairly well on his first senior Merseyside derby start.
Needs time to settle into the English game. His first contribution was earning Liverpool a throw which he got after an Everton player wasted no time in closing him down. He'll now know that he won't be given the time and space unlike in the La Liga. Welcome to the Premiership Antonio....
Came on as a sub for Flo Po and did okay against the team that wanted to sign him in the summer. Combined well with Riise down the left after his arrival in the game.
Rafa decided that Xabi wasn't ready yet for this kind of Merseyside derbyday aggression and so he started on the bench. After coming on there wasn't much time left for him to make a significant contribution for the away side.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez: "There were clear chances for us; we didn't score and they did. Everton are an aggressive side but the question is if you have the opportunity you need to score. We're thinking about this game - and we need to learn from it."
"In football the team that scores the goals wins games. If you have chances but don't score then you can't win. In the first half we had two or three chances and we needed to score. If we'd scored then the second half would have been different."
"I thought we controlled the game in the first half even though it was a very difficult game. Everton are very aggressive and made it hard for us, but I thought we were controlling things. Then when they scored we had to change things to try and get an equaliser, but it didn't happen."
"We decided to go with the players who had fresh legs. Didi and Salif hadn't played this week and so we used them today. You can ask questions about the team but in my opinion, as I said, we controlled the match in the first half. We just needed to score. It's a disappointing end to what had been a good week for us. Now we have to make sure that next week is another good one."
Everton manager David Moyes: "It's great for us. That's the first time in seven years we've won against Liverpool at Goodison, so we've waited a long time for that. It's not just the three points today; it's the 33 we got before today that are also important. The team defended so well when they had to. They keep putting themselves on the line and keep picking up wins. We didn't get many chances to celebrate victories last season and we are enjoying the wins we get and the goals we score."
"It says we are moving on when a lot of people didn't think we could do so. We have an honest bunch of lads; we've got great self-belief - we don't quite have the quality some other clubs have got but we are bridging that gap with every ounce of effort we've got. Our job is just to keep playing. Tonight will be as enjoyable as the other 10 wins we've had this season and I think the blue half of Merseyside will have a very good night."
Everton goalscorer Lee Carsley: "It means a lot to us. The fans are buzzing and it's a big day for us all. Everyone's waiting for us to fall over, but we have a great team spirit here at Everton and everything's going really well."
Everton midfielder Thomas Gravesen: "This win showed the team has come far. The fans are always really involved here, they are really behind the team and everybody is together at this club at the moment. There was a lot at stake out there today."