Liverpool 3-0 Everton 13th March 2012
Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 Merseyside derby victory over Everton at Anfield. Gerrard was making his 400th Premier League appearance for Liverpool and at times he was unstoppable. It leaves Liverpool fans wondering if they could have turned those draws into wins, had Gerrard not been injured for large periods of the season. The win ended Liverpool’s 3 match losing run.
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Everton on the other hand were in much better form and had been hoping to celebrate David Moyes’ 10 year anniversary as manager with victory. Everton had not won at Anfield during Moyes’ Everton tenure, their last victory at Anfield was in 1999. Everton have beaten Liverpool just 3 times in the EPL under David Moyes. The red half of Merseyside are celebrating another League double over their rivals – their 3rd in 5 seasons. You have to go back over 20 years to find the last time Everton did the double over Liverpool.
David Moyes looked to have one eye on this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final against Sunderland – as he made six changes to his starting line-up from the team which beat Tottenham at Goodison at the weekend. It was Liverpool who started the brightest, in a frantic first half an hour of the match.
Interplay between Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez put Gerrard through, only for Tim Howard to dive low into the bottom corner to parry it, Jack Rodwell blocked Jordan Henderson’s follow-up shot.
It was Everton’s turn next, Steven Pienaar wasted a good opportunity – firing over after Leighton Baines made a good run past Martin Kelly and Henderson. It was a rare attack from Everton as Liverpool controlled the game – especially in the first half. Suarez had a decent shot saved by Howard after a good flick-on by Carroll, who himself earlier had a weaker header saved.
The first goal was scored in the 34th minute when Kelly was put through by Luis Suarez only for Tim Howard to parry his shot, Distin then tried to clear the rebound but it fell to Gerrard who chipped it into the net with his left foot to send Anfield wild.
Gerrard will get the accolades for his goals but Luis Suarez had a hand in all 3 of them, Martin Kelly had an excellent game at right back with some excellent forward runs into the box – he had one shot saved (which led to the opener for Liverpool), another shot went just past the post and he was inches away from connecting with a Downing cross to score himself. Jay Spearing kept things simple in the centre of midfield.
Tim Howard at times kept Everton in it with several excellent saves, Steven Pienaar was the other stand-out player for Everton.
Everton started the second half better than they did the first but it was Liverpool who scored in the 51st Minute. Luis Suarez chased Henderson’s pass into the corner, cut past Distin along the right byline shielding the ball for Gerrard to blast it into the roof of the net from around 8 yards out.
Liverpool were going for more and soon after the 2nd goal, Carroll should have made it 3-0 but hit his shot wide after another great run by Suarez. Suarez himself then came close with an effort with the outside of his right foot.
Everton then started to come back into the game a little more, the game became a little scrappy but the closest they got to a goal was when Enrique blocked a Jack Rodwell shot a couple of yards out.
By the usual standards, this was a tame Merseyside Derby with only a few yellow cards and no big crunching challenges to speak of. Previous to this there had been 20 red cards in 39 matches, earlier this season Everton went down to 10 men when Jack Rodwell was sent off which was later overturned.
The game was looking like it was going to finish at 2-0, with both sides looking like they had accepted the result. Many reds fans were dreaming of a Gerrard hat-trick and they got it in the 93rd minute when Gerrard made a surging run forward after Everton had lost possession, he played Luis Suarez in who in turn returned the favour for simple tap in with his left foot. Gerrard became the first player to score 3 in a Merseyside derby since Ian Rush who scored four in a 5-0 win at Goodison in 1982 – he was only the fifth Liverpool player to so at Anfield, the last coming nearly 80 years ago in 1935.
Gerrard’s performance was not the all-action display of previous years, but he still controlled large periods of the match and looked out to prove a point to the Everton fans who were saying he is past it. Gerrard is 32 in May and it shows in his game – he is not covering every inch of the field anymore. But experience has taught him when and when not to make the forward runs, and Spearing is there to track back – whoever said Gerrard was past it may think again.
The win for Liverpool ensured Kenny Dalglish’s side avoided a fourth successive league defeat – something which has only happened four times in 60 years. The run of 3 league defeats on the bounce was the first time in 10 years. It also ensures Liverpool move 5 points ahead of Everton – who would have gone above Liverpool with victory. This result has maybe come too late for Liverpool’s chances of a top four finish as this would mean both Arsenal and Chelsea losing dropping enough points and Liverpool winning all their remaining games. While this is still possible it appears unlikely that Liverpool will take 30 points from 30 and Arsenal dropping more than 10, Chelsea would need to drop 8 points too, all three teams have been inconstant this season but Arsenal are the form team in the Premier League and look like finishing third at the moment.
The big problem for Liverpool has been taking chances, Liverpool have created a lot of very clear chances and have just failed to take them. Look at the game against Arsenal as a prime example, a game Liverpool dominated but Arsenal scored both of their chances, one of which was a half chance.
There may yet be another Merseyside derby this season in the FA cup, if both teams progress at the weekend. It would be a great day out for the whole city of Liverpool and a reminder of those clashes in the 1980’s. Liverpool have been defeated in the EPL just 3 times in the last 25 Merseyside derbies, we all hope that run continues if we do meet them in the FA Cup perhaps on the way to a domestic Cup double, which should be seen as a massive improvement and more strides in the right direction.