Liverpool secured early-season bragging rights across the city after beating Everton 2-0 in an enthralling 216th Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
The game hinged on the red card given to Blues midfielder Jack Rodwell midway through the first half, which gave the visitors a numerical advantage for more than an hour of the match.
The Reds used their extra man to great effect and, following the arrival of substitutes Steven Gerrard and Craig Bellamy, struck twice in the second half through strike partners Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez to return to Anfield with three points.
Everton supporters were left bitterly disappointed by referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to dismiss Rodwell, as it appeared the 20-year-old made minimal contact with Suarez in his attempt to win the ball.
The home side had made a positive start too, with talisman
Tim Cahill – often a thorn in Liverpool’s side – forcing Pepe
Reina into a fingertip save with a typically powerful header.
Following the sending-off, however, Liverpool began to
control the game and had a perfect opportunity to take the
lead when Atkinson awarded a penalty for Phil Jagielka’s
clumsy challenge on Suarez, who was again a livewire
around the opposition area.
Dirk Kuyt, who has specialised in scoring against the
Toffees during his time with the Reds, confidently stepped
up to take the spot-kick but saw his effort saved well by
American goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Everton started the second half with a renewed vigour but
were struggling to maintain pressure and, with 20 minutes
remaining, Carroll finally gave Liverpool the lead with his first
Premier League goal of the season.
It was created in large part by Bellamy, who drove at the
Blues’ back four before slipping in full-back Jose Enrique
with a perfectly weighted pass. The Spaniard’s cross was
dummied by Kuyt and Carroll happily converted the chance.
Within ten minutes the advantage was doubled and the points were safe, and it was Suarez who sealed the victory. The Uruguayan had hassled centre-backs Jagielka and Sylvain Distin throughout the match and when the latter failed to clear properly, Suarez tucked the ball past Howard.
The win left Liverpool in fifth place, trailing the Manchester clubs by six points, and gave Kenny Dalglish’s side the perfect boost ahead of the visit of Manchester United in a fortnight.
Everton, meanwhile, remain in mid-table and face tricky visits to Chelsea and Fulham in the coming weeks before themselves welcoming United to Merseyside.
By Chris Shaw, Senior Editor
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Carroll finally broke the deadlock at Goodison Park after Howard saved Kuyt's penalty (Pics © Trinity Mirror)
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