Mané pounces late to settle Merseyside derby

Mané scores injury-time winner in low quality derby at Goodison Park

 

Everton 0 Liverpool 1

Jürgen Klopp covered his face in disbelief and delight. It was the reaction that accompanies a crucial, potentially defining victory. An otherwise incident-free 227th Merseyside derby was in the third of eight minutes added on when Sadio Mané struck to give Liverpool victory, deflate Everton and keep Klopp’s team on the heels of Chelsea.

A derby of contrasting halves, attrition but precious little quality was heading for a stalemate until the Liverpool substitute Daniel Sturridge took possession in the 93rd minute. Cutting across a tired Everton defence and away from Leighton Baines, his low shot deflected beyond Everton’s replacement goalkeeper Joel Robles and onto a post before Mane pounced on the rebound.

It is now 13 derbies without a win for Everton and the manner of their latest defeat will take a while from which to recover. Klopp led delirious celebrations in front of the travelling supporters after the final whistle.

Everton made a determined start in contrast to a timid opening by Liverpool that left Klopp visibly enraged. The only surprise to the home side’s approach was that their players had followed Ronald Koeman’s instructions for once and continued where they left off against Arsenal at Goodison Park last Tuesday. The Everton manager had called for a repeat of controlled aggression and a volatile atmosphere. Romelu Lukaku did his bit by whipping up the crowd before kick-off and yet Liverpool appeared unprepared for what predictably unfolded.

Koeman’s side were quicker in the tackle and on the ball from the first whistle, seeking to utilise Lukaku’s strength or the right-wing runs of Séamus Coleman as quickly as possible. A third of the game had gone by the time Liverpool’s midfield found the composure, commitment and accuracy to bring their forwards into play and disturb the Everton backline. Klopp’s opinion on his team’s performance was unmistakable, the Liverpool manager berating his players and looking aghast at his backroom staff before five minutes were up. Not that Everton’s brighter display translated into obvious goalscoring opportunities, however.

With Joël Matip sidelined by an ankle injury again, Liverpool were reliant on a central defensive partnership of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan for a second game in succession. The duo were strong in the air against Lukaku, Lovren importantly beating the Belgium international to Coleman’s cross early on, yet were on the receiving end of several verbal volleys from their manager. Their treatment appeared harsh given how Everton bypassed Liverpool’s midfield to exert pressure on their defence.

The home side worked the ball out wide slickly without threatening an end product until moments before the interval when Barkley’s corner found Ramiro Funes Mori inside the penalty area. The Argentina defender, starting in place of the suspended Phil Jagielka, had a free header but steered his effort yards off target. Their best move from open play saw Barkley release Aaron Lennon on the left and, though Lukaku anticipated a low cross to the near post, Lovren again did enough to stifle the Everton striker.

Liverpool had shown nothing of the movement or menace behind their emergence as the Premier League’s leading goalscorers this season but improved after the half hour. Their one chance fell to Divock Origi when Georginio Wijnaldum and Nathaniel Clyne combined down the right. Clyne’s centre arrived a fraction behind Origi and, leaning back, he steered a good opportunity high over the Everton bar.

The usual derby passion was on display but a shot on target would not have gone amiss. Liverpool eventually obliged in the 50th minute when they parted Everton’s defence with ease and forced Stekelenburg into the first important stop of the derby. James Milner’s first time ball from the left put Roberto Firmino clean through on goal. Funes Mori resisted temptation to invite another derby dismissal with a professional foul and his goalkeeper rescued Everton, blocking Firmino’s effort with his chest and escaping when Mané and Adam Lallana got in each other’s way as they pursued the rebound.

Whatever Klopp said in the dressing room at half-time made an impact as his team started with the same intensity as Everton had opened the game. The hosts’ midfield balance was disrupted by the loss of James McCarthy to injury and their keeper was forced off after being on the receiving end of a vital interception from his own player. A lovely one-two between Mané and Firmino unlocked the home defence but, before the Senegal international could convert, Leighton Baines slid in to clear and clattered Stekelenburg in the process. He hobbled away to be replaced by Robles.

Everton’s quality on the ball deteriorated markedly in the second half. They could easily have been reduced to ten men for the final 22-plus minutes when Barkley sparked a brief melee with a dangerous and reckless challenge on Henderson. Barkley caught the Liverpool captain’s ankle, and he was fortunate to be able to play on, but referee Mike Dean opted for a lenient yellow. Guardian Service

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