Liverpool: Mirallas A Disgrace & Martinez Had S*** In His Eyes...
They're not always like this you know, derbies.
Generally they're fairly dour affairs, bathed in grit, determination and sweat but lacking in any football to satisfy either purists or neutrals; matches where you 'have to win the right to play' exemplified by Joe Royle's decision to 'cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war', e.g. kick lumps out of anybody in a red shirt. Often there will be a moment that convinces a referee that a card of a similar hue would be appropriate.
Kevin Mirallas did his best to maintain tradition with a disgraceful tackle of almost Paul Scholes-sequence malevolence; the only people on the planet not feeling it worthy of a straight dismissal being Phil Dowd and the blue half of Merseyside. The latter spent the late afternoon insisting that it was a perfectly fair challenge (the hole in Suarez' knee would dictate otherwise) and tweeting photos purporting to acclaim Mirallas as the current representative of the 'Kick it out' campaign.
See what they did there? 'Cause Luis Suarez is a racist isn't he? The wags.
Obviously the other piece of controversy from the Everton side of the affray is Steven Gerrard's 'assault' on Gareth Barry. A disgraceful attack with the Liverpool captain's elbow that led Roberto Martinez to accuse Gerrard of cheating. Until he saw the replay and realised that Gerrard hadn't actually touched the ex-City midfielder and withdrew his complaint. But why should the truth interfere with some righteous ire?
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Other than those points, which will spark debate until the moment that the next Derby kicks off, what we actually had here was an incredible game of football; free flowing, end to end, endlessly thrilling, three goals conceded by each team but both 'keepers in immaculate form with Mignolet the busier of the two and once again justifying Rodgers' decision to allow Pepe Reina to move on to a temporary home in Napoli. Two incredible saves from Lukaku prevented the Belgian from doubling his already impressive two goal tally.
Set pieces were crucial for Liverpool, both in attack and defence; Coutinho's inventive movement to receive a Gerrard corner gave the Reds a fifth minute lead while our defence's ongoing inability to deal with balls into the box allowed Kevin Mirallas (still blameless at this point) to ensure that our lead lasted no more than three minutes. Suarez had a gap between the wall and the oddly placed Steven Pienaar to steer a free kick through and a space of about two inches to realistically aim for, obviously that was the spot he hit; a free kick of true class. Liverpool allowed a much more routine free kick to lead to Everton possession within our penalty area eventually falling to an unmarked Lukaku.
Everton finally took the lead with a towering Lukaku header in the 82nd minute, Liverpool equalised with a more delicate flick on by Daniel Sturridge from Gerrard's free kick with 90 seconds left.
And then we both attacked again. And again.
If you want a turning point, other than the fact that Everton should have been down to ten men before half time then it's this: Liverpool are two-one up, breaking and threatening, Luis Suarez lays on a gilt edged chance for the returned (and otherwise fine) Joe Allen. Allen shoots wide. At 3-1 the game is over and Liverpool are top of the league, for a couple of hours at least.
Fine margins. It's going to be a season full of them. For now we have quite possibly the finest Derby match of all time, an utterly compelling three all draw (you don't get many of those really) and neither set of fans is happy with it; both feel that they've lost after both managed to waste convincing leads.
Funny old game.
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