The game started off in an explosive manner with both teams going at each other with hammer and tongs. Everton had the better of the possession early on but couldn’t make it count, and Liverpool made them pay with their first real chance.
A booming Steven Gerrard pass was turned out excellently by Seamus Coleman keeping Flanagan from getting behind the backline. The Liverpool captain took the resulting corner, Everton defended it poorly and Luis Suarez was able to flick it back to Coutinho, who slotted the ball into the net.
The defending for the goal would have been a worry for manager Roberto Martinez, and both McCarthy and Howard should have done better. However, Liverpool fans could be pleased by the impressive movement in the box to create the space.
Everton were able to turn it around quickly, thankfully for their fans peace of mind. Leighton Baines was able to get a free kick in a dangerous area, and Liverpool focused their attention to the big man upfront, Romelu Lukaku. They allowed the ball to slip through the middle and a touch from the impressive Ross Barkley allowed Kevin Mirallas a chance on goal, which he took superbly.
The game started to settle down a little bit after the second goal, and became very scrappy in the middle of the park. Mignolet made his first impressive save of the match, when a Steven Gerrard mistake allowed Everton to cut the defence open and put Lukaku through on goal, fortunately the Liverpool keeper anticipated the move and was able to stop his country man from putting Everton 2-1 up.
Liverpool again found themselves in the lead largely down to the individual brilliance of Luis Suarez. A free-kick from 25 yards out was defended poorly by Everton. Luis Suarez was able to find a gap in the wall left by Steven Pienaar and the ball found its way into the bottom right hand corner. The Everton keeper should have organised the situation better, but could do nothing about the shot going into the net.
The ever-present Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines were at the heart of trying to bring Everton back in the game, but couldn’t stop their side going in at the break 2-1 down.
The second half started in a similar vein to the way the first half started, with Everton having much more of the possession.
Everton had an early blow when Leighton Baines had to be brought off through injury, replaced by an attacking option in Gerard Deulofeu. The substitute got the chance to put Everton level but lost his composure in front of goal, and the impressive Mignolet stopped him again with good anticipation.
Coutinho continued to show his class around the box to try and create something, but it was Luis Suarez producing magic that opened Everton up for the first time of the half. Luis Suarez used his incredible foot speed to slip between his men, and put Joe Allen through on goal. The 23-year-old produced the most laughable piece of football in the game, missing the net from 7 yards out. The Liverpool fans were unsure about his inclusion before the game, and he certainly didn’t help himself with the miss.
Lukaku looked to be in for a frustrating afternoon as his countryman in the Liverpool goal stumped him on every occasion. It looked like he may have finally have beaten Mignolet when he struck a free-kick that took a deflection but the Belgian pulled off another unlikely stop. The Belgium striker got another bite of the cherry seconds later, and this time he didn’t make a mistake. He slammed the ball past Mignolet from 10 yards, putting the demons of previous misses behind him.
The game became an end to end affair, and Luis Suarez had the best chance but he saw Tim Howard pull off a brilliant reactive save to stop him putting Liverpool 3-2 up going into the last 15 minutes.
Everton looked like the only side going on to win the game after the Suarez chance, and Deulofeu pulled Mignolet into another brilliant save. The resulting corner proved to the difference, Lukaku got above Glen Johnson and powered the header straight past the defender on the line, giving Everton the win late on.
The game wasn’t over yet though, not by a long shot. An impeccable free-kick by Steven Gerrard found Daniel Sturridge on the near post, the England striker saw his glancing header go past the American goalkeeper and put Liverpool back on level terms.
Victor Moses nearly won it in injury time, when a Luis Suarez cross found the former Wigan midfielder but he watched his header fly over the bar. A few seconds later, a Mignolet goal kick found Suarez just outside the box, but Howard made an impeccable save to stop the Uruguayan striker.
Liverpool then put the ball in the net through Daniel Sturridge but saw it ruled out for offside. Everton then took the game to Liverpool and saw two very late chances go off target – seconds later the referee blew the whistle bring the match to an end.
It was quite frankly the best game of the season so far – an enthralling 3-3 draw in a local derby that will take some beating.
image: © Erik Daniel Drost