Match report as Everton produce a battling display to frustrate Liverpool in 242nd Merseyside derby; Jordan Pickford and Alisson both shine in stalemate as Conor Coady sees close-range strike disallowed following VAR review for offside
Liverpool dropped further points at the start of the new Premier League season as Conor Coady was denied a fairytale winner by VAR during a frantic 0-0 draw at Everton.
After conceding first in eight of their last nine games, Liverpool were far from their best in the first half – and were fortunate not to extend that statistic when Tom Davies hit the post.
Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz both struck the woodwork within the same phase of play shortly before the interval, with Jordan Pickford getting his fingertips onto Nunez’s looping shot.
Virgil van Dijk was booked for a nasty challenge on Amadou Onana – and was fortunate to escape further punishment according to Frank Lampard – before Everton thought they had taken the lead on 69 minutes when Coady tapped home Neal Maupay’s cross-shot but VAR ruled out the goal after a lengthy delay.
The excellent Pickford touched Mohamed Salah’s stoppage-time effort onto the post but Jurgen Klopp had to settle for a point which leaves Liverpool in fifth place ahead of the weekend’s remaining fixtures.
Everton rise to 14th and have now failed to win any of their first six matches of a Premier League season for only a third time, also doing so in 1994/95 and 2010/11 – but the outlook is a lot more positive following their latest draw, their fourth in succession.
The Pickford derby has a new meaning
It was Pickford whose error allowed Divock Origi to score a bizarre 96th-minute winner at Anfield in December 2018, but he excelled on this occasion, denying Salah with his fingertips deep into stoppage time to preserve the stalemate.
The hosts began brightly and came close inside eight minutes when Harvey Elliott’s lazy pass was intercepted by Davies to set Demarai Gray on his way. A cute reverse pass found Maupay – making his debut after his £15m move from Brighton – inside the box but he dragged his shot across goal.
Nathan Patterson was facing a tough assignment up against Diaz with the pair tangling off the ball after a quarter of an hour, referee Anthony Taylor seeing little in the skirmish. But this was a fractious affair, a devilish derby full of bite and needle but low on early quality.
A towering jump from Nunez at the far post met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first-time cross on 19 minutes but his header was wayward. Anthony Gordon was next to try to break the deadlock as his low drive from a half-cleared corner was gathered by Alisson.
Davies was having a fine game as the most advanced of Everton’s midfield three, and the local lad came within the width of a post of putting Everton in front on 32 minutes.
Joe Gomez failed to deal with Patterson’s cross, Maupay slipped as Virgil van Dijk came across to block his effort with the ball dropping for Davies to curl a shot with the outside of his boot, beating Alisson but not the woodwork.
It was Liverpool, however, who would end the half in the ascendancy as Pickford produced a stunning save to divert Nunez’s lofted shot onto the crossbar with Diaz keeping the ball alive to cut inside and hit the inside of the post inside the same minute as Everton somehow survived.
Klopp summoned Roberto Firmino at the interval in place of Fabio Carvalho in a bid to add chaos with four forwards, and it very nearly provided an instant reward when Elliott’s low cross was glaringly lifted off target by Kostas Tsimikas at the far post five minutes after the restart.
Nunez’s quickly-taken volley from Salah’s cross was straight at Pickford as Liverpool continued to look increasingly menacing. Everton had just half chances to show for their efforts at this point with Alex Iwobi’s speculative shot following Maupay’s acrobatic effort in curling off target.
The game sparked into life during a frantic five-minute spell shortly after the hour mark when Pickford twice kept out Firmino in quick succession, first tipping his low shot wide before fisting his powerful header away.
From another corner, Fabinho brought a third save from Pickford before it was Everton’s turn to wonder how they had not scored when Gordon’s cutback was swept goalwards by Maupay on the stretch but Alisson shut the door.
Coady was left crestfallen when his close-range finish was then ruled out for offside following a protracted VAR review with the centre-back just the wrong side of James Milner’s back heel. The Liverpool end erupted as referee Taylor confirmed the decision.
Dwight McNeil was introduced late on and his deflected curling shot drew another smart save from Alisson. Pickford responded to keep out another instinctive effort from Firmino before Salah was left speechless when his first sight of goal all day was tipped onto the post. It was a day when the goalkeepers came out on top.
“Three points from their opening five games represented Everton’s worst Premier League start in 12 years. They took just three points from their first six games in the 2010/11 season, which was also the last campaign they won a home Merseyside derby.
“They headed into this contest averaging exactly a point a game under Lampard, but that is not going to be enough if Everton are to avoid another fraught fight for survival having spent the last 68 years as a top-flight club.
“In his programme notes, Lampard acknowledged the process of rebuilding and underlined that the side we will get better – and there was plenty of determination and courage in the opening 45 minutes.
“Those are the foundations his side have shown in every game so far this season. The eight new signings will take time to gel but the quality must now come through.
“The window is now finally shut, to the delight of Lampard, and there can now be no more distractions. Here, unlike last season, the side competed with their neighbours and richly deserved this point.
“Everton must now get on with picking up points. A win would really have given the Lampard era lift-off, but there was a chasm between these two sides the last time they met at Goodison Park last December.
“Lampard has focused his energy on building a much more solid base and here there were signs of a much brighter future. Liverpool were again far too lethargic and only demonstrated any urgency after the break.
“The chances of a concerted Premier League title challenge this time around are not quite becoming increasingly remote, but Klopp will know there is now a long slog ahead.”