A brace from Romelu Lukaku had put Everton on the brink of a first win over their city rivals in seven matches, but Sturridge’s header gave Liverpool a share of the spoils after a frenetic Premier League encounter at Goodison Park.
Liverpool took a fifth-minute lead when Philippe Coutinho neatly controlled the ball on his thigh and volleyed home after Luis Suarez flicked on a Steven Gerrard corner.
The hosts equalised three minutes later, Kevin Mirallas converting a Ross Barkley knock-down, only for Suarez to restore Liverpool’s lead in the 19th minute by whipping a 25-yard free-kick into the bottom-right corner.
Mirallas was fortunate to avoid a red card for a knee-high foul on Suarez before half-time, with referee Phil Dowd electing only to book him.
Joe Allen spurned a superb chance to extend the visitors’ lead when he shot wide with the goal at his mercy and Liverpool were punished in the 72nd minute when Lukaku tucked away an equaliser.
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard produced a point-blank reflex stop to keep out a header from Suarez and with eight minutes to play Lukaku claimed his second goal with a bullet header from Mirallas’s left-wing corner.
Everton would have moved up to third place with victory — level on points with Liverpool — but Sturridge had the final say when he smartly headed past Howard from a Gerrard free-kick.
“It was a terrific game. I’ve been involved in a few and they are real heart-stoppers,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
“We again showed our resilience and ability to fight back. This is a difficult place to come and they haven’t lost at Goodison Park this year.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez said: “It’s really disappointing we didn’t get three points. To concede late on from a dead-ball situation doesn’t reward my team for how they played in the second half.”