Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Gerrard Sissoko Mascherano Benayoun
Hyypia (og) 38’
Kuyt 54’ (pen) 92’ (pen)
Too much. Sensory overload. I’ve gone through the entire gamut of emotions. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this justice or fully process it. Merseyside derbies can be incredible things.
Although it’s not how I usually write reviews, I guess the best way to go about this is step by step.
Liverpool lined up with no Torres, no Alonso, and a midfield pairing of Sissoko and Mascherano. Gerrard was ostensibly on the right, but he played through the middle more often than not in the first half, the result being Liverpool’s shape was a bit off. Voronin frequently compensated in attack, and Lescott was open too often down Everton’s left.
Liverpool came out pressing, and played quite well for the first 10-15 minutes, with Voronin getting a tame shot on goal within 5, but Everton soon established themselves the better side. The ball stayed in the middle of the pitch for the majority, leaving the keepers with little to do, but Everton earned an egregious number of corners, and it started to feel like the home side was going to make Liverpool pay for it.
In the 38th minute, after a scramble in the box following (you guessed it) a corner, Hyypia sliced the ball into his own net, and suddenly, Liverpool was behind. The goal did little to catalyze Liverpool, and the half finished in a similar fashion, with Liverpool sloppy in midfield, unable to establish real possession, and second best.
The team started to play better in the second half, and it wasn’t a surprise that Gerrard found himself more involved. It still wasn’t quite coming off, with passes a bit astray, but in the 52nd minute, his storming run through the center earned a penalty and Tony Hibbert saw red.
Liverpool hadn’t looked likely to get an equalizer, but Kuyt stepped up and sent Howard the wrong way with the resulting penalty. Not only was Liverpool back in the game, but also an extra man and the momentum.
Not surprisingly, the sending off changed the game. Liverpool saw more of the ball, and Riise, Voronin, and Sissoko all had excellent chances on goal, only to miss the target on each occasion. All of a sudden, the game had changed from being completely infuriating to just frustrating, with Liverpool unable to take advantage of the extra man or the opportunities at goal.
In the 71st minute, Benitez sent on Lucas for Gerrard, which for some reason absolutely floored the commentators. As Liverpool struggled to get the second goal, it looked like the commentators might be right, especially since Sissoko did not play well. He was responsible for the majority of Liverpool’s turnovers and guilty of missing Liverpool’s best chance up to that point. However, with the importance of the upcoming games coupled with the fact that Gerrard hadn’t had the best game either (outside of earning the penalty), it seemed the right thing to do at the time. The decision would end up being validated.
Going into injury time, the frustration mounted. I was still pleased with the fact Liverpool had gotten the equalizer when one hadn’t looked certain, but with the chances missed and Everton a man down, Liverpool’s wastefulness was coming back to haunt.
Then, in the 91st minute, there was a scramble in the box after Howard had come out to block Kuyt’s effort. The ball came to Lucas, and his shot had to be saved by the hand of Phil Neville. Of course it was Phil Neville. Kuyt stepped up to the spot a second time and put his penalty in the same place. Howard guessed right this time, but it still ended up in the back of the net.
And just when you thought it was over, Everton was able to get forward, and in the resulting scramble, it appeared that Carragher hauled down Lescott. Mark Clattenburg waved away Everton’s appeals, and moments later, blew the final whistle. And I sat with a stunned expression on my face, unable to move, for the next 30 seconds.
Sometimes you need a little luck. Sometimes you need a lot. And while if it wasn’t Everton, I’d almost feel sympathy, both of Liverpool’s penalties were rightly adjudged.
Okay, maybe Gerrard worked to earn his, and the fact that Clattenburg coupled a penalty with a red card was harsh, but it was the right call by the book. Neville definitely handled on the line, denying Lucas (who had played well since coming on for Gerrard, looking very assured in what had to be an amazing situation) his first goal. And Liverpool should have been up by that point, with the aforementioned excellent chances spurned by Riise, Voronin and Sissoko.
But Everton could have easily had a penalty of their own at the end. And they’ll undoubtedly be upset with the sending off. Gloating almost feels wrong, but at the same time, it feels so very right.
I honestly feel this could change Liverpool’s fortune. Sometimes you need the pieces to fall together like this, and after the last few games, the team will obviously be thrilled with 3 points no matter how they come. No one was spectacular, and there’s still a few problems needing fixing (sloppy turnovers in midfield and Liverpool’s profligacy being the main two, but Alonso’s return will help greatly), but a win like this still will boost the team going into the upcoming stretch of games. That a win like this comes over Everton, at Goodison, makes it that much sweeter.
3 points. 3 points won fortunately, but 3 much-needed points in the bag, against the city rivals, on their own ground. Delightful. Get the fuck in.
Now the team needs to carry this momentum into Besiktas on Wednesday and Arsenal on Sunday. Roll on Liverpool.