Everton vs Liverpool. Premier League.
Report and match highlights as Merseyside derby ends in goalless draw at empty Goodison Park
Monday 22 June 2020 06:47, UK
Everton and Liverpool played out a tepid goalless draw on their return to Premier League action at Goodison Park, delaying the visitors' title charge.
Liverpool went into the game needing six more points to clinch their first Premier League title but were blunted by the absences of Mohamed Salah and Andrew Robertson, mustering only three shots on target.
It was Everton who had the best chances of the game late in the day, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Richarlison all going close in a matter of minutes.
But neither side could find the breakthrough and has complicated Liverpool's potential title win. They remain 23 points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table, and will be hoping Pep Guardiola's side drop points against Burnley on Monday Night Football.
If they do, Liverpool could still win the title against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday evening, live on Sky Sports. Should Man City win against Burnley on Monday and Chelsea in their following game, then it could all come down to Liverpool's trip to the Etihad on Thursday July 2, live on Sky Sports.
Everton, meanwhile, have moved onto 38 points and return to 12th position.
In an eerily quiet Goodison Park, both teams had a sight of goal in the opening exchanges. Everton went closest as Richarlison hammered an effort just past the far post before Takumi Minamino - making his first Premier League start for Liverpool - drove towards the area before swinging his powerful shot wide from 25 yards out.
It was a similar story around the half-hour mark with both sides taking their time to find a rhythm in a quiet first half. Joel Matip bounced a header wide from Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner before Richarlison flicked his own nodded effort just over the crossbar after an Anthony Gordon free-kick - although it would have been ruled out for offside.
Everton: Pickford (6), Coleman (8), Keane (7), Holgate (7), Digne (6), Gomes (6), Davies (7), Gordon (6), Iwobi (5), Calvert-Lewin (6), Richarlison (7).
Subs used: Sigurdsson (6), Bernard (n/a), Kean (n/a).
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Matip (6), Van Dijk (7), Milner (5), Keita (7), Fabinho (6), Henderson (6), Minamino (6), Firmino (6), Mane (6).
Subs used: Gomez (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (5), Origi (5), Wijnaldum (5), Lovren (4).
Man of the match: Seamus Coleman.
Liverpool saw the better chances as the half meandered towards half-time. A wonderful transition saw Sadio Mane pick out Roberto Firmino at the top of the area, but his low effort flashed wide of the post. Not long after, Alexander-Arnold lined up a free-kick and it was a thunderous delivery, but it flew into the palms of Jordan Pickford.
The hosts began the second half well and looked to put some pressure on Everton, with Naby Keita just missing the far corner after a neat one-two with Firmino before Virgil van Dijk headed a corner goalwards, but Pickford once again made an easy collection. Richarlison almost punished Liverpool's lack of cutting edge in the 61st minute as he raced onto a lovely Dominic Calvert-Lewin pass, but could only fire his effort high into the empty stands.
It was a sign of what was to come with Everton twice going close in the final stages. In the 79th minute, Richarlison sped away down the left flank before squaring the ball to his strike partner, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who deftly flicked the ball goalwards, forcing a low, scrambled save from Alisson. Tom Davies was waiting for the rebound and tried to find the far end of the net, but the ball bounced off the far post before Virgil van Dijk diverted the ball behind.
The resulting corner then flicked off the head of Mason Holgate, sending the ball towards Calvert-Lewin at the back post, but his diving header was diverted just wide. A few minutes later, Richarlison was once again driving into the area and went for it himself, but Alisson was down low at the near post to make the save.
In the first minute of three added on, Fabinho curled a thunderous free-kick goalwards, forcing a leaping save from Pickford, but Liverpool were unable to find the breakthrough.
Jamie Carragher has urged Liverpool to bring in reinforcements up front, with the visitors struggling without Salah at Goodison Park.
He told Sky Sports: "The front three are as good as anyone in Europe but whenever one of them is out, there is a massive drop off. When Liverpool dropped points at Manchester United, Salah wasn't playing. That's why Liverpool need to strengthen the front three.
"Divock Origi is a legend for Liverpool as he's scored big goals at big moments but doesn't have quite the quality. Is Minamino part of the front three? Not for me. The front three are very robust and don't miss many games but if Liverpool were to lose one of them, especially the two wide players, for a lengthy amount of time they could have a real problem next season.
"I thought Everton deserved to win. You can talk about Liverpool having the possession, but it's about what you create and the chances that you make. Everton allowed Liverpool to have possession because they know they can't take them on in that type of game. It was easy for Liverpool to dominate possession, but when you get that much possession in the opposition's half, it's about what you can do with it."
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti: "The performance was good, we did well defensively. We didn't concede opportunities, we were focused. We had a big chance to win but against a strong team we showed good character and personality. It's what we planned and wanted from the game.
"We didn't concede a lot of space to Van Dijk to play from the back. We were focused on Fabinho and defensively, the back four were really good - strong in the tackle. I'm really pleased.
"It wasn't easy for the strikers but they worked hard, they fought and we had two or three opportunities to score. We were a bit unlucky but it was a good performance and physically, after a long break, it was good. Considering the fact there was no crowd, the intensity was really good in my opinion.
"It wasn't an open game - we didn't want to give them an open game because it's really difficult when you give them space. I think it was a fair result."
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp: "It was a real fight. Both teams showed that they understand it's a derby - even without a crowd. It was intense, physical, all-in.
"The players were really in the game, so that's good. I really liked our defending; the high press, midfield press, counter-press good. We won a lot of balls.
"We didn't have a lot of chances. Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance - that's how it is. It came out of the blue. We were lucky in that moment but apart from that, we were in control.
"You saw the derbies we had here before - they were never really better, I have to say! Each team is fighting like crazy so in the end there is not a lot of football. There is space for improvement for us here at Goodison. I like football when it's slightly different but that's how it is - we had a proper fight, it was intense and we were ready for that.
"Now I know we are ready because you don't know 100 per cent if we did enough [during the break], but we can involve fresh legs on Wednesday. So far, so good, but I saw Crystal Palace yesterday and they looked like a well-oiled machine. It will be tough."
In a good defensive performance from Everton, captain Coleman was at the heart of it. He was back in the side and led from the front, making four tackles and gaining possession eight times - both the highest numbers of the entire team.
Perhaps his performance was demonstrated in the 54th minute as Mane burst down the left flank but Coleman, although a few yards behind, bust a gut to get back and clear before the Liverpool forward could strike.
After losing 4-0 to Chelsea before the suspension of football, it's that strong defensive display that was needed on Everton's Premier League return.
Both teams are back in Premier League action on Wednesday evening. Everton travel to Norwich (kick-off 6pm), while Liverpool welcome Crystal Palace to Anfield, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 8.15pm).