Football Football

Honours even in Merseyside derby


PIENAAR-LIVERPOOLLIVERPOOL, England, May 05 – Everton’s winless run at Anfield continued as the Toffees played out a 0-0 draw against Liverpool on Sunday to edge closer to ensuring they will finish above their Merseyside rivals in the Premier League.

Sylvain Distin’s disallowed goal was the closest to a breakthrough in the 220th meeting of these sides, but the point ensures Everton remain five points clear of Liverpool with two games remaining.

However, it effectively ends Everton’s hopes of earning a Europa League spot as they sit five points behind fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, who have played a game less.

Liverpool may have gone into the game five points behind their rivals, but having not lost to their neighbours at home since 1999, they will have still remained confident of ceasing talk of a power shift in the city.

After the Kop displayed a mosaic to thank Everton fans for their support in the bid for justice for the 96 Liverpool supporters killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, the pleasantries were put aside for a feisty start.

Liverpool were the first to create an opening, but Daniel Sturridge failed to get his shot on target after opening space for himself.

Everton responded, but Steven Pienaar also failed to hit the target as the ball sailed into the Kop with Pepe Reina untroubled in the hosts’ goal.

Rumours had circulated before the game that Steven Gerrard might miss out through injury, but those fears proved to be unfounded.

The Liverpool skipper played a delightful 50-yard pass to Sturridge, but he could not get his shot on target.

The best chance of the half fell to Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini after Liverpool gave away a needless free-kick on the edge of the area.

Leighton Baines swung in the dead ball and Fellaini stuck a boot out but could not direct it goalwards, much to the relief of Reina, who looked beaten.

Phil Jagielka then made the first of two very good blocks to deny Liverpool.

Jordan Henderson cut the ball back for the on-rushing Gerrard, who hit a fierce low effort, but Jagielka managed to get his body in the way, before the Reds captain curled a free-kick just over.

Jagielka was alert again before the break to deny Philippe Coutinho, who was about to fire the ball home after it broke to him in the area, but the Everton defender scrambled to get across and stick his leg out.

After the break it was goalkeeper Tim Howard who came to the Toffees’ rescue, blocking from Sturridge as the Liverpool striker tried to round him after a superb through ball from Coutinho sent him clear.

As the action continued, Coutinho teed up Sturridge again, but this time the England forward fired into the side netting.

The sun was causing problems for the Liverpool defence and Distin rose to head in a Baines corner, but the Everton celebrations were short-lived as referee Michael Oliver had already blown for a free-kick.

The Everton defender had pushed Jamie Carragher in the back when climbing for the ball, while Victor Anichebe also appeared to block Reina.

Distin showed his defensive skills with 17 minutes to go after Sturridge played in Gerrard.

The England skipper rounded Howard, but his scuffed shot allowed Distin the time to get back and clear the ball away.

Liverpool came close again when Gerrard swung in a dangerous free-kick, but Daniel Agger’s header whizzed by the post.

Reina was almost caught out by a deflected Anichebe effort that spun high into the air, but the Liverpool goalkeeper managed to palm it onto a post in what was the last chance of the game.