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    Everton 1-1 Liverpool Match Report

    Not even a creditable draw in a hard-fought Merseyside derby was enough for Brendan Rodgers to keep his job as Liverpool manager as his three-year tenure at the club came to an abrupt end after only eight matches of the league season. Although the timing of the announcement was a surprise after a resolute performance against an in-form Everton side, it was perhaps Thursday's draw against FC Sion that proved the final straw for Rodgers, with the club's board deciding to relieve him of his duties before a ball had even been kicked on Sunday.

    The writing had been on the wall ever since a poor end to last season, winning just two of the last nine matches, condemned Liverpool to a sixth place finish and followed semi-final defeats to Chelsea and Aston Villa in the cup competitions. It left Rodgers without a trophy in three years at the club. A change in the club's backroom staff in the summer, as opposed to the manager himself, offered Rodgers a temporary stay of execution but an inconsistent start to the current campaign, in which the club currently sits 10th in the league, persuaded the owners to make the change.

    The performance his players gave against their local rivals on Sunday was a positive send-off for Rodgers, taking the lead four minutes before half-time through Danny Ings and providing stubborn opposition in the second half as the home team failed to break down a resolute Liverpool rearguard. It is perhaps regrettable for Rodgers that his side didn't offer the same level of resistance that they displayed at Goodison Park in other matches over the past six months, with the Northern Irishman never fully addressing the defensive frailties that cost the club a league title in 2014.

    Liverpool began the 225th Merseyside derby in the ascendancy, with Danny Ings missing a good chance for the away side after 13 minutes when he blazed over the bar from just inside the penalty area after Nathaniel Clyne had headed the ball into his path. Although the Reds were not at their free-flowing best, they had the better of the possession and chances in the first-half but Daniel Sturridge could not repeat his exploits that he displayed a week ago when he scored a brace against Aston Villa.

    James Milner also missed the chance to break the deadlock, after 26 minutes, shooting into the side-netting after after a dinked through-ball by Philippe Coutinho gave the midfielder a sight of goal from a tight angle. On close inspection, it was an excellent save by Tim Howard that had denied Liverpool from opening the scoring, but it was the only time that the American was fully tested in a match that will be remembered by the heroics that were pulled off by his opposite number.

    The first of Simon Mignolet's saves came a minute later, showing lightning reflexes as he tipped over a bullet header from Steven Naismith from 15 yards after it looked a certainty that the Scottish international would give Everton the lead. The Belgian stopper started this season in excellent form, keeping clean sheets in the opening three matches, but began showing some of the frailties he displayed last season in the next four games when he conceded nine goals.

    He was called back into action on the half-hour mark, tipping wide a ferocious low drive at full-stretch from James McCarthy after Gerald Deulofeu's cross had ricocheted off Lucas Leiva into the midfielders path. It was arguably a better save than the first, not only due to the speed and accuracy of McCarthy's strike but because of how low he needed to scramble down and the fact that he saw the strike through a crowd of players.

    Just as it looked like the match was set to remain goalless heading into half-time, Liverpool re-established their early dominance by taking the lead through Ings. The former Burnley striker, one of Rodgers' final signings at the club, brushed off Ross Barkley with a slight push to create space inside the penalty area and headed home Milner's inswinging corner from three yards.

    The amount of contact was not deemed sufficient by referee Martin Atkinson to be considered a foul and question marks must be raised about how Ings was able to evade his marker in the penalty so easily. It was perhaps the scoreline that Liverpool deserved on the overall balance of play, although they could easily have been losing but for Mignolet's heroics as Everton started to grow into the match the longer the half progressed.

    Everton's persistence was finally rewarded in first-half stoppage time when Romalu Lukaku scored his fifth goal of his career against Liverpool, finishing in clinical fashion from eight yards after Liverpool failed to clear the danger. The initial cross by Delofeu, intended for the Belgian centre forward, had been slightly over-hit but the ball ricocheted back into his path after Lucas' clearance hit an unsuspecting Martin Skrtel.

    There were fewer chances after the break, the best of which fell to Barkley, who picked up the ball on the halfway-line and ran unchallenged before shooting a yard wide of Mignolet's post from 25 yards. The England international will be disappointed he didn't hit the target after a large portion of the goal opened up for him and with Skrtel slowing down Mignolet's reflex-time by blocking his line of sight.

    Romalu Lukaku also had a good opportunity to win the game for the home side, finding himself one-on-one with Mignolet eight yards from goal but the Liverpool goalkeeper came out on top in this particular Belgian duel by narrowing down the angle and pulling off an excellent save at his near post. The chance had been created by a magnificent dummy from substitute Aaron Lennon, which took Sakho out of the game and created the space for Lukaku who found himself through on goal.

    It was a predictably tetchy affair, with two melees and two Liverpool players narrowly avoiding red cards. The first melee was sparked when Barkley's unsuccessfully attempted to retrieve the ball from Emre Can in order to take a quick throw and the second developed when Mamadou Sakho reacted badly after Lukaku flicked an arm out at him. Both instances were started innocuously and ended with yellow cards to both players.

    Can was perhaps fortunate to stay on the field in the first half after an over-head kick made contact with Gareth Barry but it was deemed not to be serious foul play by referee Atkinson. Lucas repeated the feat in the second half, escaping a second yellow card when he cynically tripped McCarthy after the Irish international had taken the ball past him and was sizing up an effort on goal.

    The performance and result proved too little too late for Rodgers, who was sacked an hour after the game. Had he been sacked at the end of last season, when the club were thrashed 6-1 at the Britannia Stadium, or after the disappointing performances against Manchester United, Carlisle or Norwich this season, very few eyebrows would have been raised. Given the improved level of performance against Aston Villa a week ago and against Everton, however, it came as a shock to many people within the game.

    The performance will give his successor, who is expected to be announced within the next week, plenty to work with as the club attempt to win a first trophy since 2012. Danny Ings is starting to look the part in a Liverpool shirt after scoring his third goal of the season, whilst the balance of the team has looked far better in recent weeks in a 3-4-3 formation. Despite conceding a poor goal, there were also signs that the Liverpool defence is becoming more settled and starting to form a better understanding.

    Liverpool face a battle if they are going to reach the Champions League for only the second time in seven seasons, a trophy that the two favourites for the managerial position, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti, have reached the final of in the past three seasons. An aspect of Rodgers' management that has been questioned is the calibre of signings he has made in his time at the club, spending £292 million in seven transfer windows. There is enough quality, however, and depth in the squad to at least make a tilt at the top four. The new manager's first task at the club will be a trip to White Hart Lane immediately after the international break.

    It is unlikely to be the last we see of Rodgers in the English game, after he came within a whisker of winning the league title 18 months ago but now finds himself out of work. The Sunderland managerial position, which was made vacant just hours before Rodgers' sacking was announced, may have come about a little too soon but there are many clubs in the Premier League who will be admirers of the Northern Irishman's progressive style of football.

    For Everton, the run of Merseyside derby matches without a win now extends to 11, but they can take encouragement from a strong second half performance where they looked the more likely to score a winner in the latter stages. They never reached the heights of three weeks ago when they beat Chelsea 3-1 but played their part in a highly-competitive game and, but for Simon Mignolet's saves in the first-half, could have taken all three points.

    Romalu Lukaku looks like he's finally showing the kind of consistency that his undoubted talent merits and, at times, was unplayable on Sunday. The club extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven matches and next entertain Manchester United after the international break, who will be eager to return to form after their 3-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.
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    Item Reviewed: Everton 1-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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