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English Premiership

Kuyt saves Liverpool

LONDON, January 16- Liverpool came from behind to share the spoils with Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday as Kenny Dalglish's emotional Anfield homecoming ended in a 2-2 draw.Dalglish appeared to be heading for his third consecutive defeat since taking over from Roy Hodgson after two second-half goals in seven minutes from Sylvain Distin and Jermaine Beckford gave Everton a 2-1 lead.

But Liverpool — who had taken a first-half lead through Raul Meireles — fought back to secure a draw courtesy of a Dirk Kuyt penalty on 68 minutes after Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard upended Maxi Rodriguez.

The atmosphere inside Anfield had been electric before kick-off as the Kop roared out "You’ll Never Walk Alone" to mark Dalglish’s return to the home dugout for the first time in 20 years.

Liverpool, missing the suspended Steven Gerrard and injured Jamie Carragher, started on fire and might have taken the lead when Fernando Torres smashed a shot off the post, only for Kuyt to just fail to reach the rebound.

But the Anfield crowd did not have long to wait for the goal they craved, and it came on 29 minutes through Meireles.

Howard pulled off a superb double save from Kuyt, but could clear only as far as Meireles on the edge of the area who lashed a swerving shot high into the net sending Dalglish leaping off the bench in delight.

Meireles was to test Howard shortly before half-time after being played in by Kuyt, only for the Everton keeper to save at the near post.

But Liverpool were rocked in the opening minute of the second half, when Distin nodded home at the far post to level.

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And it got worse for Liverpool six minutes later, when Leon Osman slipped a deft pass to Beckford who curled his shot beyond Pepe Reina to silence the Kop and leave Dalglish shaking his head in disbelief.

Beckford’s strike left Liverpool shellshocked, and Everton got on top as Liverpool struggled to regroup.

Yet on 68 minutes, Liverpool were level. Howard bundled over Maxi in the area for a certain penalty and Kuyt stepped up to roll in the spot-kick.

Earlier Sunday, an injury-time goal from Sunderland’s Ghanaian international Asamoah Gyan denied Newcastle home-and-away victories over their northeast rivals as Birmingham and Aston Villa drew at St Andrews.

Newcastle, seeking to bounce back from their shock FA Cup exit to lowly Stevenage last week, looked to be heading to a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light after a Kevin Nolan goal put them ahead.

But with the game deep into injury time World Cup star Gyan scrambled in a fortunate equaliser to make it 1-1 and deny Newcastle a famous win.

Nolan, who scored a hat-trick in Newcastle’s 5-1 thrashing of Sunderland in October, was the Black Cats tormentor once again, firing the Magpies ahead on 52 minutes with a close-range backheeled effort.

Yet just as Newcastle’s travelling fans prepared to celebrate victory, Gyan popped up in injury time with his eighth goal of the season after a rare mistake by Newcastle keeper Steve Harper.

At St Andrews, Aston Villa fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital point in their derby clash with Birmingham.

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Birmingham, who handed a debut to new signing David Bentley, took the lead on 49 minutes when Roger Johnson volleyed in from 12 yards past Brad Friedel.

The Blues looked to be in control of the game and heading for victory until Villa equalised against the run of play, when a cross by Marc Albrighton was touched on by Gabriel Agbonlahor before being swept home by James Collins.

Villa might even have snatched an unlikely victory in the final 10 minutes, when Nathan Delfounso hammered a 25-yard shot against the crossbar.

The late game sees top of the table Manchester United travel to Tottenham for an eagerly awaited first versus fifth clash at White Hart Lane.

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