Everton 2 – 2 Liverpool: Controversy Trails Thrilling Merseyside Draw

Photo Credit: THEGUARDIAN

BEVERLY HILLS, October 17, (THEWILL) – The first Merseyside Derby of the 2020/2021 season lived up to its billing as Premier League champions Liverpool were controversially denied victory. English midfielder Jordan Henderson saw a late goal ruled out by VAR in a 2-2 draw with 10-man Everton.

Current League leaders Everton twice came from behind to draw level in an entirely absorbing contest at Goodison Park.

Liverpool were off the blocks at a trot and broke the deadlock with just two minutes and 15 seconds on the clock as a well-worked move saw the ball shifted out to Andy Robertson. The English left back swung a low left-wing cross which their returnee Senegalese striker Sadio Mane side-footed into the roof of the net.

Everton could count on good fortune not to concede a penalty and go down to 10 men in the sixth minute. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford clattered into Liverpool Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk who was going after a lofted box-bound corner from Fabinho. But, they were rescued by the offside flag against the Liverpool centre-back.

Everton’s good fortune was not shared by Liverpool as Van Dijk subsequently limped off to be replaced by Joe Gomez 11 minutes into the game. The absence of the imposing nature of the Dutchman proved key as Michael Keane, the English centre back for Everton, rose highest to meet a corner from James Rodriguez and powerfully channeled a pinpoint header home for the equaliser.

Liverpool continued to own the midfield and look the more dangerous. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 25th-minute curling free-kick sailed past the wall and was headed for the top-left but for a diving save from Pickford that kept it out. Then, Mane spurned a gilt-edged chance for a brace after more impressive work from Robertson.

At the other end, the woodwork prevented Richarlison from completing the turnaround in the second half. The Brazilian forward’s header clattered off the far post after a wonderful deep right-wing cross from James.

The hosts were then left to rue that miss as a poor clearance from Colombian defender Yerry Mina presented the ball to Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian striker did not need a second asking to lash a first-time effort beyond Pickford in the 72nd minute.

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Five minutes after, Pickford had to be at his best to prevent Joel Matip and Salah from extending Liverpool’s lead when he flew from his line to palm away Matip’s attempt at goal.

Instead it took another four minutes for Everton to erase Liverpool’s lead when Digne lofted a superb cross for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head into the bottom-left corner to the delight of the Evertonians.

Pickford denied Mane another shot at a brace, who then headed Diogo Jota’s rebound wide, but Liverpool’s hopes were boosted by Richarlison’s ill-advised tackle on Thiago Alcantara which resulted in both players needing medical attention and the Brazilian being sent off.

Henderson appeared to have decisively captialised on Liverpool’s numerical advantage when Pickford inexplicably failed to keep his tame close-range effort out, but VAR adjudged Mane to have strayed marginally offside as he latched on to Thiago’s telling ball down the left.

THEWILL notes that with the VAR decision, the points were shared at the final whistle in the Merseyside derby as Everton’s unbeaten streak remained after Matchday 5.

The point Everton obtained from this draw means they cannot be caught this weekend and will remain at the top of the league no matter how the other matches play out. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have technology to thank for that, with Mane having initially appeared in line with the defence to the naked eye.

It was another good outing for Calvert-Lewin. His excellent header was emblematic of a player in peak form. He has now scored in each of Everton’s first five league games this season, becoming the first Toffees player to achieve that feat since Tommy Lawton in 1938/1939.

With this result, Liverpool have now conceded 13 goals in their five Premier League games this season after conceding that many goals after 15 matches last season.

For their next challenge, Klopp’s men start the quest to regain their Champions League crown when they visit Ajax on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League first fixture, before welcoming Sheffield United to Anfield on Saturday. Everton visit Southampton a day later.