Digital Publisher of the Year | Wednesday 02 December 2009 | Liverpool feed

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Everton 0 Liverpool 2: match report

Read a match report of the Premier League game between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on Sunday Nov 29 2009.

 
Javier Mascherano
Local hero: Javier Mascherano gave Liverpool the lead, thanks to a deflection off Joseph Yobo Photo: AP

Perhaps it was a touch of Evertonian gallows humour to invite Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz, to experience the delights of the 212th Merseyside derby.

Happy days have been few and far between for the city’s two football clubs in recent months, but if the intention was to lift the gloom hanging over the blue fringes of Stanley Park, Joseph Yobo’s left foot ensured that the only grey clouds being banished were those above Anfield.

Heaven knows what Winkler, a New York Yankees fan performing as Captain Hook in Liverpool Empire’s production of Peter Pan, made of Everton and Liverpool battling to escape their respective pits of despair.

Everton dominated possession, but Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina proved unbeatable and two swings of Yobo’s left boot – one of which deflected a Javier Mascherano shot into his own net, the other a comical miskick that allowed Steven Gerrard to create Liverpool’s second goal – left Everton on the canvas.

David Moyes’s team fly to Athens today aiming to keep their Europa League hopes alive with a victory over AEK on Wednesday. Lose and any hopes of an all-Merseyside meeting in that competition in the new year could evaporate. On this evidence, Europe will not be missing much.

At the end of a week when Everton conceded they would not be opposed to sharing a super-stadium with Liverpool at Stanley Park, it was perhaps appropriate that the football played by both sides was similar to that produced by those teams who currently tear up the park’s pitches on a Sunday morning.

The abject recent form of both clubs was clearly a mitigating factor, however. Everton’s run of one win in nine, combined with Liverpool’s tale of woe that has seen them exit the Champions League during a sequence of two victories in 11 outings, hardly set the tone for a classic.

Merseyside derbies once decided titles and cup finals. This encounter had the parochial air of a neighbourhood dispute. Noisy neighbours slugging it out for local pride rather than silverware. For Liverpool, Gerrard was strangely anonymous, while Everton centre-forward Jo highlighted why Manchester City were so keen to loan him out this season.

Jo almost claimed a hat-trick, but after twice putting the ball into the Liverpool net from offside positions, the Brazilian fell short of the unwanted distinction of scoring three illegal goals in the same game. His selection as a lone forward, ahead of the more dangerous Louis Saha and Yakubu, ensured that Everton were reliant on midfielders such as Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini to test Liverpool goalkeeper Reina.

Moyes’s team were set out to contain and counter-attack, but the plan was compromised when Mascherano’s deflected strike gave Liverpool a 12th-minute lead.

The Argentine midfielder, having received the ball from Emiliano Insua 30 yards from goal, took a touch to control before unleashing a right-foot effort goalwards. Tim Howard appeared to have the shot covered, but a heavy deflection off Yobo directed the ball into the opposite corner. Howard was utterly helpless.

Everton responded well and took a grip of the game. They dominated possession in the middle third, but their composure evaporated within sight of Reina’s goal.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov impressed on the left and Jo showed some deft touches, but it was all too far from the danger area. And when the home side did manage to get behind the Liverpool rearguard, Jo’s offside radar malfunctioned, with a strike from Bilyaletdinov’s pass and a poacher’s goal from Syvlain Distin’s header both correctly ruled out.

Other than a reflex save by Howard from Insua, Liverpool, without the injured Fernando Torres, produced little to concern Everton until the 75th-minute introduction of Yossi Benayoun, whose presence finally gave the visitors an element of flair.

Prior to that, Everton twice went close to beating Reina, with the goalkeeper almost fumbling Pienaar’s 20-yard shot into the net before he produced a crucial double save to deny Cahill and Fellaini on 71 minutes.

Reina’s contribution ultimately proved decisive and, after repelling whatever Everton had been able to throw at him, the goalkeeper then instigated the move that led to Liverpool’s second, and match-winning, goal.

The Spaniard’s long punt forward was sliced horribly by Yobo in the Everton penalty area, with the ball dropping to Gerrard on the edge of the six-yard box.

Gerrard pulled the ball back for substitute Albert Riera to strike goalwards and, with Howard unable to fully smother the shot, Kuyt pounced on the rebound to win the game.

Prior to the fixture, Moyes spoke of 'choking’ on Everton’s lack of progress this season. This defeat will be just as difficult to swallow, but Everton only have themselves to blame.

 
 
Fernando Torres - Rory Smith on Liverpool
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Matt Giteau - The world of sport in pictutres

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