Everton remain six points clear of Liverpool after 2-2 draw
Everton remain six points clear of Liverpool after they fought back from 2-0 down to claim a draw at Goodison Park.
Last Updated: 30/10/12 11:37am
Everton remain six points clear of Liverpool after they fought back from 2-0 down to claim a point in a combative Merseyside derby.
Leighton Baines' own goal and Luis Suarez's header were cancelled out by Leon Osman and Steven Naismith in a helter-skelter opening half, with Suarez's injury-time disallowed effort adding late controversy.
Kevin Mirallas created early danger when he weaved his way down the inside-left channel but Martin Skrtel was on hand to cut out his driven cross.
Moments later Jose Enrique skipped free down the left and his delivery found its way to Suarez, whose drilled cross-shot flew in off the back of Baines' leg (14).
If Suarez's celebratory swan dive in front of the home bench angered the Everton faithful, their mood darkened further when the Uruguayan stole in to glance home a header from Steven Gerrard's free-kick (20).
Osman (22) gave the home side an instant lift as Brad Jones' weak punch fell perfectly for the Everton midfielder to slot home from 18 yards, courtesy of a slight deflection off Joe Allen.
Suarez was threatening at the other end while Jones was again unconvincing dealing with a high ball under pressure as both defences looked bereft of confidence.
The Liverpool keeper was helpless when Naismith timed his run perfectly to meet Marouane Fellaini's clipped cross to claim the equaliser with his first goal for Everton (35).
Andre Wisdom's cross just eluded Suarez but Raheem Sterling then produced a horrendous shank when clean through on Tim Howard.
The Everton keeper parried Gerrard's long-range free-kick while Nikica Jelavic, who had struggled all afternoon, planted a free header wide.
A prone Phil Jagielka denied Gerrard a late winner while Baines had to be alert to deny a darting Suarez as ill-will trumped skill in a niggly final quarter.
Suarez thought he had won it deep in added time as he latched onto Sebastian Coates' knockdown, but his flicked finish was ruled out for a debatable offside decision.
Liverpool had fielded five derby debutants - Sterling, Andre Wisdom, Nuri Sahin, Suso and Joe Allen - with Everton having just two in Kevin Mirallas and Naismith.
That may have contributed to what was a first 45 minutes so open it belied its history of being the oldest and longest-running cross-city rivalry in English football.
There was also the sight of Suarez's reaction to the opening goal as he raced to the dug-out to dive full-length in front of Toffees boss David Moyes after his pre-match comments about players going to ground easily.
Ironically, later in the half, it was one of Moyes' own players Phil Neville who was booked for diving on the edge of Liverpool's penalty area.Derbies can do strange things to people - highlighted by Neville's diving aberration - and the sight of Tim Howard, one of football's genuine nice guys, hurtling out of his goal in an attempt to get 17-year-old Sterling sent off for what he thought was a second bookable offence was also ungentlemanly and unnecessary.
|2||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||3|
|9||Shots off Target||8|
|55.9||1st Half Poss.||44.1|
|56.2||2nd Half Poss.||43.8|