Liverpool’s title hopes suffer huge blow after Calvert-Lewin seals Everton win

Toffees’ top-flight status almost certainly secured after first Merseyside derby victory at Goodison Park in 14 years

Premier League: Everton 2 Liverpool 0

The final Merseyside derby of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool reign might well prove the final blow to his dream of saying goodbye with the Premier League title. For the first time in 14 long years, Everton emerged victorious against their local rivals at Goodison Park. Victory will taste all the sweeter for Sean Dyche’s team with their top-flight status almost certainly secured at the expense of Liverpool’s title chances.

“You lost the league at Goodison Park,” sang the home crowd as they rejoiced in a deserved Everton victory, an outstanding Everton performance and the best night of Dyche’s reign. Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the goals that consigned Liverpool to a hugely damaging defeat.

Everton were fired up and Goodison responded in kind. The old ground pulsated as Dyche’s team performed with an intent, intensity and quality that has been absent too often this season. Calvert-Lewin, an injury doubt on the eve of the game, led the line superbly. It was no coincidence that the supply to the centre forward was vastly improved too. Jack Harrison and Dwight McNeil delivered the service that Calvert-Lewin craves while working tirelessly to help Idrissa Gueye and James Garner assert control in midfield. Liverpool were rattled and vulnerable long before Branthwaite gave Everton a richly deserved lead.

Liverpool were missing both Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo, the latter joining the injured striker on the sidelines after his partner went into labour hours before kick-off. They were also missing composure for long periods of the first half, although it may be more accurate to say Everton refused to allow them to have it.


Abdoulaye Doucouré spurned the first good chance of the derby when turning McNeil’s low cross wide from close range. Branthwaite instigated the move with a pinpoint diagonal ball that turned the Liverpool defence and sent Harrison scampering away from Andy Robertson.

Harrison was also involved in an incident that threatened serious repercussions for the visitors’ night. The winger put Calvert-Lewin through on goal with a delightful cross with the outside of his foot. The striker nudged the ball around Alisson and was sent sprawling by the Liverpool goalkeeper before he could convert into an unguarded net. The referee Andy Madley immediately pointed to the penalty spot and showed Alisson a yellow card, to the fury of the home crowd. Their mood deteriorated further when VAR found that Calvert-Lewin was offside when receiving Harrison’s delivery. No penalty and no yellow card.

The reprieve did not shake Liverpool out of their pedestrian approach. Ben Godfrey launched himself into a vital challenge to prevent Darwin Núñez or Curtis Jones converting a first-time cross from Mohamed Salah, but Everton remained in the ascendancy until the final 15 minutes of the first half. Godfrey headed wide when well placed at a McNeil free-kick. Another McNeil free-kick found its way to Calvert-Lewin via James Tarkowski but Alisson saved the striker’s close-range header.

It was third time lucky for McNeil free-kicks when another needless Liverpool foul, this time Jones on Gueye, presented the winger with one more opportunity to worry the visiting defence. The initial delivery was cleared as far as Tarkowski, who hooked the ball back across the penalty area to Harrison. His first-time touch teed up Godfrey and, though his shot was blocked, the rebound fell invitingly for Branthwaite lurking unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box. The defender’s low shot squirmed under Alisson, rolled against the inside of a post and trickled in. There was another VAR check for offside against the goalscorer but, after a lengthy delay, Everton were not denied for a second time.

Now Liverpool responded. Klopp’s side finally began to control possession and stretch the Everton defence. Jordan Pickford, previously untroubled, saved from Núñez when the Uruguay international was played through by Salah. The Everton goalkeeper also denied Luis Díaz with his legs after Núñez turned provider. Núñez created a clear opening for Salah too but, having scuffed his initial shot against Branthwaite, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer skied the rebound wastefully.

Everton also mounted fierce resistance in the face of Liverpool’s belated pressure. Branthwaite and Gueye threw themselves in the way of goalbound shots. Tarkowski dominated his penalty area to repel numerous crosses.

The pattern continued after the restart but, from their first attack of note, Everton unearthed the luxury of a second goal. McNeil stung Alisson’s fingertips with a powerful drive from 25 yards. From the resulting corner, taken deep by McNeil, Calvert-Lewin soared into a gap left by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk to head into the bottom corner.

McNeil was close to making it three when Harrison dispossessed Wataru Endo, a Liverpool substitute, on the edge of the area. His well-placed shot was deflected wide. Liverpool, in desperate need of a way through, peppered the Everton area with crosses but struck a royal blue shirt all too frequently or were instantly closed down when they did have sight of goal. Díaz did eventually beat Pickford with a shot that curled in from the left but it smacked the inside of the far post and bounced away. ­Pickford also denied Harvey Elliott and Salah late on as Everton held on to a famous win. – Guardian