Reds keep up derby dominance
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Liverpool battled to a 3-1 victory over Everton in an ill-tempered derby at Anfield.
Liverpool battled to a 3-1 victory over Everton in an ill-tempered Merseyside derby at Anfield.
The Reds had captain Steven Gerrard sent off early in the first half, but were in front at the break following a Phil Neville own-goal and quickly made it 2-0 through Luis Garcia.
Tim Cahill headed in a reply for The Toffees, who then had substitute Andy van der Meyde dismissed, before Harry Kewell's stunning strike settled a bitty encounter, punctuated by a plethora of yellow cards.
The first half was a textbook derby, as football took a back seat to a series of crunching tackles and prolonged periods of scrappy play.
Though Liverpool applied the early pressure, Everton had two good openings inside the first 10 minutes, with both falling to Cahill.
Firstly, the Australia international could not get a clean contact when spinning to shoot at Jose Reina and he then lashed a volley wildly into the side-netting from a tight angle after latching on to James Beattie's flick-on.
Cahill continued in the thick of things by picking up a booking for a poor challenge from behind on Gerrard before the Liverpool captain endured a minute of madness.
He was booked for kicking the ball away, after Xabi Alonso had brought down Kevin Kilbane, and he compounded his petulance barely 60 seconds later.
With The Reds still defending the set-piece, Gerrard lunged recklessly, and needlessly, into a tackle on Kilbane, leaving referee Phil Dowd with no option but to produce a second yellow card.
The standard of football only deteriorated from there, as Alonso was cautioned for a high tackle on Neville, while Alan Stubbs and Kewell had their names taken after jostling in the area whilst awaiting a free kick.
Respite from the dirge came at the end of the first half when Liverpool took the lead from a second corner, after Alonso's drive had originally taken a nick off an Everton defender.
The Spaniard whipped in the set-piece from the right and, in attempting to clear his lines, Neville only succeeded in diverting his header beyond Richard Wright at the near post.
The half-time interval only served to invigorate the home side, as Rafa Benitez's men added a second goal just two minutes after the restart.
Jose Reina's punt downfield was glanced on by Peter Crouch. Garcia nipped in ahead of the static Gary Naysmith before lofting a precise shot over the onrushing Wright.
Everton initially struggled to get a foothold in the contest and manager David Moyes was contemplating a triple substitution when The Toffees pulled one back on 61 minutes.
Leon Osman curled in a corner from the left and Cahill stole in unmarked to head the ball inside the far post to hand Everton hope.
That was almost extinguished on 67 minutes when, after David Weir had been booked for bringing down Mohamed Sissoko, Alonso crashed the resulting free kick against the crossbar.
Moyes then introduced Duncan Ferguson and van der Meyde, but Everton could have fallen further behind amidst their reorganisation, only for Garcia to fail to get a clean shot in when the ball broke kindly to him six yards out.
The Toffees were starting to wobble and hesitation from Weir allowed Kewell to forage forward, as the Australian's stinging drive was superbly pushed away by Wright.
Van der Meyde's impact lasted just six minutes and was only negative from Everton's point of view when he was sent off, perhaps harshly, for catching Alonso in the face with a leading arm, with intent not seemingly at the forefront of the Dutchman's mind.
Alonso was the architect, momentarily, of a third Liverpool goal on 78 minutes when his swirling free kick from range found its way into the net, possibly via a blond hair belonging to Sami Hyypia, but Crouch was penalised for offside and Everton breathed again.
The reprieve was brief, though, as Liverpool scored a deserved third goal on 84 minutes. Kewell collected a pass from Steve Finnan 25 yards from goal and let fly with a rip-snorter of a shot which flew past a helpless Wright.
Garcia was denied by Wright late on as Liverpool finished strongly, while Moyes will be bitterly frustrated by his team's inability to capitalise on playing against 10 men for a 55-minute spell.
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|8||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|7||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|12||Total Fouls Conceded||28|