Well derby day on Merseyside for the first time this season at Goodison Park with Kenny Dalglish leading his Liverpool team across Stanley Park for the first time in over 20 years, since that unforgettable 4-4 match which proved to be Kenny’s last match of his first spell as Liverpool manager. Such an important fixture for both sets of supporters with a lot more than bragging rights at stake. Liverpool came into the match on the back of a win at home to Wolves last week and were hoping to build some momentum with another win before the international break. Everton lost at Manchester City last week but proved how difficult they are to beat. A win for Liverpool would take them back up to 4th in the League before the 3pm kick-offs.
Dalglish made just the one change to the side which beat Wolves, with Dirk Kuyt coming in for Jordan Henderson. Kuyt who has great experience scoring winning goals in this fixture probably gave him the nod over Henderson. But Liverpool still had 5 players making their Merseyside Derby debuts. Kenny once again had Carragher and Skrtel in the centre of defence with Enrique on the left and Martin Kelly on the right side of defence. Charlie Adam once again partnered Lucas in the middle of midfield with Steven Gerrard once again starting on the bench as he eases back into full fitness. Downing would play down the left with Kuyt on the right of midfield.
As per usual the match started at a frenzied pace with Everton looking to pressure Liverpool high up the park. But it was Liverpool who had the first real chance, and it came when Kuyt crossed to Suarez but he could only head straight at Howard. Everton countered immediately and Reina had to make a very good fingertip save from a Cahill headed effort.
Distin and Saha both had chances but failed to hit the target as Everton were having the better of opening stages. But they were stunned in the 23rd minute when they were reduced to 10 men after Jack Rodwell went in with a strong challenge on Luis Suarez, which resulted in a controversial straight red card.
Liverpool started to threaten with the numerical advantage and Suarez went close with an angled effort hitting the side netting. Then Charlie Adam drilled a free-kick into the Everton defensive wall. A minute before half-time Liverpool were awarded a penalty when Jagielka upended Suarez in the box. Dirk Kuyt took the spot kick but Howard made a superb save low to his right. It was the first time Kuyt had missed a penalty since he moved to Liverpool. Then Adam saw a superb strike from the edge of the box smack off the underside of the crossbar with Howard beaten. Everton hung on to go in 0-0 at half-time with Liverpool left wondering how they were not in front.
The second half started with Liverpool applying the pressure and Everton looking to counter attack. Then 5 minutes into the second half a Charlie Adam corner was met by the head of Carroll but his effort was cleared off the line by Saha. A similar chance shortly after resulted in Howard smothering on the line.
Enrique then took a quick free-kick sending Kuyt behind the static Everton defence but he failed to connect properly. With 25 minutes remaining Dalglish made a double change with Gerrard and Bellamy coming on for Adam and Downing.
Then in the 71st minute Liverpool took the lead when Bellamy released Enrique down the left who then cut the ball back for Andy Carroll who slammed the ball into the Everton net for his first League goal of the season and the away supporters wild with delight.
A second goal soon followed after Distin and Baines got into trouble in their own penalty box presenting Suarez with a great chance yards from goal, and the striker made no mistake with a crisp finish and ending the match as a contest. So the Red half of Merseyside went home very happy after seeing off their Blue neighbours.
I thought Kenny got his team spot on and I was so pleased to see him bring Kuyt back into the team for Henderson. Everton started the better forcing us back in the early stages of the match. But the game certainly turned in our favour with the sending off. Never a red card, in fact I thought it was a great tackle by Rodwell. But many times this season we have been unlucky with refereeing decisions, so it was great to see us getting a decision in our favour for once. We started to dominate after the sending off and it was pleasing to see us stay patient and not panic after missing so many opportunities. The penalty was a stone waller and Kuyt was unlucky with his attempt, with Howard making a superb save. It was great to see Carroll scoring and you could see his confidence returning after the goal. Suarez was a constant threat and great to see him scoring the second goal. Lucas was superb in the middle of the park and Enrique had another impressive game at left back creating the first goal. I thought it was a professional performance from Liverpool where they didn’t let the sending off affect them and they remained patient and used the extra man to their advantage. Great result and sets us up nicely for our next match at home to Manchester United.
Man Of The Match – Suarez – was a constant threat, scored and was involved in most of main incidents in the match.