Liverpool 4 Everton 0
Everton head to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. Whether Roberto Martínez will accompany them is open to question after his team imploded in the Merseyside derby to present Liverpool with the chance to inflict a humiliation. Jürgen Klopp’s players did not miss the opportunity.
Divock Origi opened the scoring before having to leave the pitch on a stretcher as a consequence of an appalling challenge by Ramiro Funes Mori, the Everton defender who will now miss the FA Cup date with Manchester United through suspension.
Injury to John Stones, and Martínez's failure to include one defender among his substitutes, resulted in the visitors finishing the game without a recognised central defender. Goals from Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho punished the dishevelled back-line. Origi's injury was the only stain on Klopp's first taste of the Merseyside derby.
The build-up to the 226th Merseyside derby may have been more subdued than usual, so too the initial atmosphere inside Anfield, with the rivals coming into the contest eighth and 11th in the table and with priorities elsewhere, but the spectacle that unfolded quickly restored order. It was fast and frenetic from both sides, though only Liverpool turned opportunity into attempts on goal as Everton’s defensive frailties undermined their overall display yet again.
Martínez's men made a lively start and the increasingly beleaguered manager could not be accused of losing the dressing room on the early evidence. But two crosses from the left foot of James Milner and it was all over. Everton's attempts to deal with both were shambolic. Unfortunately for Martínez and seasoned observers of his teams it was also no surprise, and they were powerless to quell Liverpool's gathering momentum at the end of the first half.
Klopp had made only one enforced change from the side that started last time out at Anfield against Borussia Dortmund, Lucas Leiva for the injured Emre Can, as the Liverpool manager returned to his favoured line-up and the one that may well face Villarreal in next week's Europa League semi-final first leg. His team made a similar start to that unforgettable quarter-final second leg too, taking 20 minutes to overcome a lethargic midfield display before unnerving their opponents with intensive pressing, energetic movement and first-time balls into the box.
Saturday's FA Cup semi-final did not deter Martínez from starting Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley having rested both with slight knocks against Southampton last weekend. Gareth Barry was also handed the captain's armband on the night he equalled David James' record of 571 Premier League starts and the 35-year-old was at the heart of the visitors' determined opening. It counted for little, however, as Barkley failed to provide sufficient support to his centre-forward, several promising counter-attacks did not trouble Simon Mignolet and Bryan Oviedo endured a woeful night as an emergency right-back.
The opening exchanges encapsulated Everton's season. They opened brightly only for Oviedo to gift a glorious chance to Adam Lallana when slicing what should have been a routine clearance on the half-way line. Lallana raced through, the Kop at the mercy of the boyhood Evertonian, but shot straight at Joel Robles and the opportunity for an early lead was wasted.
Everton were also caught out by a simple ball over the top from Nathaniel Clyne to Roberto Firmino. Their central defenders were caught ball-watching before John Stones recovered to pressure the Brazilian and Robles saved again with his feet.
Liverpool’s pressure and Everton’s vulnerability told moments before the interval. Milner’s free-kick on the right was cleared initially but the home side retained possession, the England midfielder cut on to his left and swept a delightful cross to the back post where Divock Origi rose above Stones to head home.
The challenge from Stones was non-existent and worse was to follow for the visitors with the final act of the half. Again, Everton cleared a set-piece only for the ball to return to the taker, Milner. He exchanged passes with Lallana and broke to the by-line, crossing from the left for the unmarked Mamadou Sakho to head into the roof of Robles’ goal.
Ultimately, being two goals down in the derby at half-time proved the least of Martínez's concerns. Within five minutes of the restart Everton were reduced to 10 men as a result of a disgraceful stamp by Funes Mori on Origi. There was no threat to the visiting goal as the in-form Belgium international collected Alberto Moreno's pass out near the right touchline but the Argentina defender came over the top, studs first, straight into the striker's ankle. Robert Madley had no hesitation in showing a straight red card yet Funes Mori had the temerity to protest before walking off while pulling at his Everton crest in some pathetic show of pride. An immediate three-match suspension follows.
A Liverpool player indicated the severity of the injury to Klopp, who kicked the air before venting his frustration to the Everton bench. Origi, outstanding in recent weeks, was carried off on a stretcher and will be a major loss for club and country if the damage proves as bad as it initially appeared.
Ludicrously, despite his injury problems in defence and Callum Connolly’s impressive debut at the weekend, Martínez went into the derby with no defenders on the bench. And his last fit and available centre-half, Stones, limped off injured having gifted Liverpool their third on the hour.
The England international was under no pressure as he played a careless pass out of defence straight to Lucas in central midfield. Lucas accepted the invitation to return the ball through a gaping hole in the Everton rearguard for Origi's replacement, Daniel Sturridge, to slot his 50th goal for the club into the bottom corner. That was the cue for the Everton director Jon Woods to leave his seat in the directors' box.
Everton now had a central defence comprised of James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic. And the Reds had their fourth in what amounted to a duck-shoot when Clyne and Joe Allen combined to find Philippe Coutinho on the left, and the Brazilian fired a trademark finish into the far corner.