SHAFAQNA – Phil Jagielka’s stoppage-time thunderbolt earned Everton an unlikely 1-1 draw in the 223rd Merseyside derby on Saturday after Steven Gerrard’s free kick appeared to have secured Liverpool a welcome victory. With Everton making a desperate late assault on Liverpool’s goal, Aiden McGeady’s cross was headed clear, only for England defender Jagielka to send a 30-metre volley screaming past keeper Simon Mignolet into the top corner.
Liverpool were stunned, and it was Everton’s fans who were celebrating at the end despite their side’s 15-year winless league run at Anfield continuing.
The home side had enjoyed the better chances and deservedly went ahead after 65 minutes when Gerrard’s curling free kick nestled into the corner despite Everton keeper Tim Howard getting a firm hand to the ball.
Mario Balotelli should have made it 2-0 moments later but struck the crossbar from close range and Everton punished the hosts’ lack of killer instinct to earn a draw that left both sides still languishing in the middle of the table.
“The players were brilliant today and we were clearly the dominant side in the game,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport.
“Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football and if ever there was a day that warranted that it was today. “
Leaders Chelsea, who have 13 points from five games, host third-placed Aston Villa later on Saturday while Manchester United look to bounce back from their 5-3 loss at Leicester City and champions Manchester City are at Hull.
Arsenal host north London rivals Tottenham in the late game.
With Liverpool and Everton enduring disappointing starts to the season it was the perfect chance to lay down a marker and the match began in typically frantic fashion with goal attempts at both ends and two loud penalty appeals.
Everton’s Romelu Lukaku was brought down by Alberto Moreno in the area while at the other end Gareth Barry was fortunate not to concede a penalty when he clearly blocked Raheem Sterling’s goalbound shot with his arm.
Barry could even have been sent off, having been already booked for chopping down Balotelli, but referee Martin Atkinson gave the midfielder the benefit of the doubt.
Howard was the busier keeper, making two good saves before the break, one from Balotelli’s deflected shot and then to deny Adam Lallana a goal in his first Mersey derby.
Liverpool were the better side after the break but Jagielka had the last laugh.
“Hopefully next time we come to Anfield we can go one better but the point is not the end of the world,” he said.
“It has been a frustrating season so far, to go 1-0 down and keep knocking at the door showed tremendous character. We need to keep showing character.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)