Everton 1 Liverpool 1
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers maintained his unbeaten record in Merseyside derbies but not with a performance likely to end the enduring scrutiny which continues to dog him.
Having taken the lead through Danny Ings his side once again conceded that advantage as the excellent Romelu Lukaku equalised in first-half injury time.
Everton were by far the better side in the second half but for a game in which Rodgers probably could not afford to lose if he wanted to avoid more screaming headlines he left Goodison Park with a 1-1 draw.
Ahead of the game Rodgers spoke proudly of being undefeated in six matches against their Stanley Park neighbours but he has won just one of those encounters and they barely looked like improving that statistic.
Everton survived some early sustained pressure and by the time Lukaku fired home just before the break they were well on top.
But history was against the Blues, who have come from behind to win a derby only once since the second world war (in 1992 when Peter Beardsley scored the winner at Goodison), and despite Lukaku trying his best they had to settle for a point which keeps them above their city rivals in the table.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, with three goals in his last three meetings against the old enemy, had a couple of early sighters and while Ings’ angled volleyed dropped just over it was Simon Mignolet who produced the excellence.
The Belgium international brilliantly tipped over a free header from Steven Naismith, left unmarked by Mamadou Sakho, and then turned wide James McCarthy’s drive.
Despite there not being a Scouser in Liverpool’s side for the first time in a derby since the 1986 FA Cup final Emre Can did his best to raise antagonism levels by needlessly getting into a scuffle with Ross Barkley which resulted in both being booked.
The Germany international was could easily have received a second caution for an overhead kick which connected with Gareth Barry but referee Martin Atkinson was lenient.
But if that was generous from the official Everton’s marking at James Milner’s 41st-minute corner was magnanimous in the extreme as with goalkeeper Tim Howard, dressed as a steward in fluorescent green and doing a passable impression of one, rooted to his line and Ross Barkley not marking closely Ings, at 5ft 8ins one of the smallest players on the pitch, nodded home from four yards.
But Liverpool’s inability to hold onto leads is well-known and in added time Can blasted Gerard Deulofeu’s cross at Martin Skrtel and Lukaku reacted quickest to fire home.
The goal had opposing effects on the confidence of Lukaku and Liverpool as Everton’s striker posed a significant handful for Skrtel and Can in the second half, forcing Mignolet to bat away a fierce shot after being played in by substitute Aaron Lennon.
Everton’s dominance saw the visitors lose their way entirely as long balls were pumped up to Ings, who had virtually no chance against a back four considerably taller.
The outstretched leg of Ramiro Funes Mori, a veteran of the River Plate v Boca Juniors encounters but making his first outing in the Merseyside derby, prevented Sturridge racing through for a late winner but it was the hosts who ended the game frustrated having got the better of their opponents in virtually every department.
Who said our corners were crap?????ME!cried it in.
Who said our corners were crap?????ME!cried it in.— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) October 4, 2015
Tim Howard: 5 (out of 10)
Tyias Browning: 7
Ramiro Funes Mori: 7
Phil Jagielka: 6
Brendon Galloway: 7
James McCarthy: 6
Gareth Barry: 6
Gerard Deulofeu: 5
Ross Barkley: 6
Steven Naismith: 6
Romelu Lukaku: 7
Aaron Lennon (on for Deulofeu, 57mins): 6
Arouna Kone (on for Naismith, 79mins): 5
Simon Mignolet: 8
Nathaniel Clyne: 7
Mamadou Sakho: 5
Emre Can: 5
Martin Skrtel: 6
Alberto Moreno: 6
Lucas Leiva: 5
James Milner: 7
Philippe Coutinho: 6
Danny Ings: 7
Daniel Sturridge: 5
Adam Lallana (on for Ings, 75mins): 5
Joe Allen (on for Leiva, 79mins): 5
Simon Mignolet. The goalkeeper has had his critics since moving to Liverpool, but he pulled off two fine saves to deny Steven Naismith and James McCarthy.
Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser. The Belgian had bullied the Liverpool defence all afternoon and deserved his equaliser. The goal highlighted Liverpool’s defensive deficiencies as much as the striker’s excellent predatory instincts. Emre Can panicked, booting the ball at Mamadou Sakho after Lukaku’s first effort and the former Chelsea man did not miss at the second time of asking.
With John Stones and Seamus Coleman out injured, Roberto Martinez had little option but to field a youthful defence. Ramiro Funes Mori, Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway did not disappoint on their first Merseyside derby starts. Keeping Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge quiet is no mean feat. Liverpool desperately missed the physical presence of Christian Benteke up front. Brendan Rodgers’ decision to play three at the back proved a wise one as Romelu Lukaku proved to be a big threat up front and the Reds regularly had to double up on the big Belgian.
Emre Can’s 33rd-minute clash with Ross Barkley. With this being the worst-disciplined match in the Premier League, there was always going to be the potential for trouble. This scuffle was not caused by a late tackle or contentious decision, however – just the pettiness of Emre Can. The German failed to hand the ball to Ross Barkley and the pair squared up before pushing each other. Brendon Galloway, James Milner and Mamadou Sakho got involved too. The flow of a fantastic game was interrupted and Martin Atkinson booked both players.
Everton v Manchester United (Premier League, October 17)
Tottenham v Liverpool (Premier League, October 17)