Liverpool edge out Everton in derby to leave rivals in relegation zone

Robertson times second goal of the season to perfection to keep title race alive

Liverpool 2 Everton 0

The Kop taunted Everton with chants of "Going down" while Liverpool refused to give up on catching Manchester City in the title race. Andy Robertson was the unlikely derby hero, and Divock Origi a not-so-unlikely one, with headers that broke the impressive resistance that Frank Lampard's relegation-threatened team had staged at Anfield.

Robertson timed his second goal of the season to perfection from a Liverpool perspective with nerves increasing among the home support prior to his 62nd minute breakthrough. Origi appeared from the bench to torment Everton yet again with his third league goal of the campaign as Jürgen Klopp's team made it 12 Premier League home victories in succession. But it was far from the procession that many had anticipated.

The sense of foreboding that accompanied Everton to Anfield deepened before a ball had been kicked in the 240th Merseyside derby. Burnley’s win over Wolves dropped Lampard’s team into the relegation zone for the first time this season.

If that wasn't enough, Ben Godfrey suffered a quadricep injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Michael Keane. Lampard had rested Yerry Mina completely following his return from a two-month lay-off against Leicester on Wednesday, leaving Everton a man down on a substitutes' bench that included 18-year-old midfielder Isaac Price.

To their credit, neither the disruption nor the increasing fear of relegation affected the visitors in a first half that stifled and irked Liverpool in equal measure. Lampard flooded his midfield and borrowed some of the wind-up tactics that José Mourinho employed here when Chelsea derailed Liverpool's title bid in 2014.

Jordan Pickford took an age over every goal-kick and clearance. Richarlison collapsed in a heap whenever touched, and sometimes when not touched at all, while the otherwise excellent Anthony Gordon was booked for diving over Naby Keïta's leg inside the Liverpool penalty area. That sparked the first of two scuffles in the opening period and, in truth, the needle was more entertaining than the game itself.

Liverpool’s frustration was chiefly down to Everton’s well-organised, disciplined defending and sharp counter-attacks than time-wasting and theatrics. The hosts were unable to repeat the first-half blitzes that devastated Manchester City and United in their previous two outings because there were no gaps left to exploit.

Unusual sloppiness in possession did not help Liverpool’s cause either. Pickford was barely troubled before the interval. Sadio Mané’s shot over in the 21st minute was Liverpool’s first – and only – attempt of note until Robertson broke the deadlock and the rising tension inside Anfield.

The bigger threat came from Everton on the break. Gordon raced away from Trent Alexander-Arnold onto an Abdoulaye Doucouré pass and went down just outside the area after a push in the back from the full-back. Referee Stuart Attwell gave nothing. Doucouré also went through following good work by Richarlison but lacked conviction all the way and dragged a tame shot across the face of Alisson's goal. Gordon did similar in the second half, sprinting through on the left but pulling his effort wide of the far post.

As mentioned, needle was the most notable feature of the first half. Richarlison went down holding his face following a touch from Fabinho early on. He fell holding his head again later in the half, forcing Attwell to halt play to the obvious annoyance of Liverpool’s players.

When the Brazil international stayed down seconds later with an ankle injury both the referee and Liverpool played on. Doucouré, incensed, took matters into his own hands by hacking down Fabinho for a booking. Another melee ensued and Mané was booked for raising a hand to Allan's face. Diogo Jota was fortunate when, having been fouled by Seamus Coleman, he reacted with a raised arm that just missed the Everton captain.

Everton remained dangerous on the counterattack, almost exclusively via Gordon, who was cleaned out on one run by Alexander-Arnold, but there was more intensity and urgency to Liverpool in the second half with Mohamed Salah increasingly prominent. It was the introduction of Origi and Luis Díaz around the hour mark – that Klopp staple – that made the vital difference, however.

Origi, so often the scourge of Everton, had only been on the pitch a minute when he exchanged passes with Salah inside the visitors' penalty area. Salah chipped a delightful cross to the back post where Robertson, of all people, charged in to head beyond an exposed Pickford. Mason Holgate headed off the line from Joël Matip, with Salah slicing the rebound over, and Robertson then made an invaluable contribution at the other end of the pitch when clearing Dele Alli's cross before Alex Iwobi could tap home.

Victory was secured in the final minutes with Liverpool substitutes again to the fore. When Robertson's corner sailed over a crowded area, Jordan Henderson collected and centred for Díaz at the back post. The Colombia international connected with a scissor-kick that bounced off the turf.

Origi, that man again, ghosted in behind two Everton defenders to beat Pickford with a close range header. There was still time for Alisson to mock Pickford’s earlier time-wasting by flopping on the ball after saving from Richarlison. Liverpool had the last laugh, but had been made to fight all the way. – Guardian