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    Everton 0-1 Liverpool Match Report


    Sadio Mane scored a dramatic goal deep into stoppage time to settle the 227th Merseyside derby and cut Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premier League table to six points.

    Even though it never hit the heights of classic Everton versus Liverpool encounters from the past, Mane ensured the game will live long in the memory when he was first to react once Daniel Sturridge's strike had hit the post.

    Although it was the away side who appeared the most likely team to win the game, they were thwarted by a spirited and stubborn Everton outfit that had began brightly but tired as the match reached its climax.

    The result enables Jurgen Klopp's side to head into a busy post-Christmas programme in second place in the league and move closer to leaders Chelsea who had opened up a nine point lead with their 11th successive win on Saturday.



    Everton's chances ahead of the Merseyside derby had been boosted with a morale-boosting win over Arsenal six days earlier, which had ended a run of only one win in the previous 11 games.

    They would have to cope, however, in the absence of captain Phil Jagielka following his sending-off in the latter stages against The Gunners, but were able to welcome back Ramiro Funes Mori who was red carded in the reverse fixture at Anfield last season.

    Liverpool, who had beaten Middlesbrough 3-0 in their previous outing to climb up to second, named an unchanged team but were boosted by the return of substitute Daniel Sturridge after he had missed the last four games with a calf injury.

    The home side started the match on the front foot, displaying the same tempo and tenacity that Arsenal had succumbed to the previous Tuesday but they were unable to sufficiently test Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

    Their best opening in the early stages arrived when Aaron Lennon's cross nearly presented Romelu Lukaku with a virtual tap-in but Ragnar Klavan was on hand to make a vital interception for his team.



    The Reds slowly grew into the match as the half progressed and created their first meaningful opportunity when Georginio Wijnaldum fired high and wide from outside the penalty area.

    With chances in the first-half at a premium, it was the away side who squandered the best opportunity to lead at the break when Nathaniel Clyne crossed for Divock Origi but the Belgian blazed wide from 10 yards.

    Everton could have taken a half-time lead themselves when Funes Mori found space in a crowded six-yard box to attack Ross Barkley's corner but he headed four yards wide of Maarten Stekelenburg's right-hand post.

    Liverpool upped their intensity at the start of the second-half, just as the home side's level began to drop, and spaces began to open-up in an Everton defence which had appeared watertight before the break.

    James Milner's through-ball played Roberto Firmino in-behind The Toffees' back-four but Stekelenburg spread himself to deny the Brazilian from eight yards, while Funes Mori blocked Clyne's effort from the rebound.



    A little over five minutes later, Sadio Mane played a one-two with Firmino and nearly found himself on the end of the return-ball before Leighton Baines made a vital interception to deny the Senegalese from close-range.

    In making the last-ditch challenge, Baines hurtled into Stekelenburg at full-speed and despite doing his best to shake off the subsequent injury, the Dutch international was replaced by Joel Robles after 64 minutes.

    Everton rarely threatened after half-time but their best moment came when Barkley's free-kick was headed on target by Ashley Williams but the Welsh defender was unable to generate enough power to replicate his late heroics against Arsenal.

    There were only four yellow cards issued throughout a relatively tepid match by Merseyside derby standards but tempers were fleetingly at boiling point midway through the second-half when Ross Barkley escaped a red card for a late lunge on Jordan Henderson.



    As Liverpool began to turn the screw as the game headed towards the final 10 minutes, they came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Firmino's low strike from Milner's corner was miraculously saved a full-stretch by the substitute Robles.

    The away side were relentless in their pursuit of a winning goal, as the match headed into eight minutes of stoppage time, and there was eventually nothing that Robles or Everton could do when a late Liverpool opportunity presented itself in the dying minutes.

    Daniel Sturridge, who had earlier replaced Origi, created space for himself to tee-up a trademark left-footed strike and despite it hitting the post, the ball rebounded for the incoming Sadio Mane to tap into an empty net.

    The 94th minute winner was a reward for the away side's attacking intent, which had never wavered and came at a time when Everton looked out on their feet and seemed happy to settle for a draw.



    The Reds could even have extended their lead in the final few seconds of the match had Seamus Coleman not performed a stunning goalline clearance to deny Roberto Firmino from turning the ball into what initially appeared to be an empty net.

    Although it remains to be seen just how vital this win will be to Liverpool's season, the fact that it came against such a prodigious rival and at such a late stage in proceedings will make it feel like a defining moment of the campaign.

    The away side never produced top form at any period of the game but can take encouragement from keeping a fifth clean sheet in seven matches as well winning while not playing at their best.

    The victory cuts the gap to Chelsea at the top of the league to six points ahead of an Anfield double header immediately after Christmas against Stoke City on December 27 and Manchester City four days later.

    Ronald Koeman's side can also take pride in the way they battled throughout the match and may even have secured all three points had they managed to find a breakthrough in the opening 30 minutes when they were largely on top.



    Perhaps as a result of their exertions against Arsenal, The Toffees tired in the second-half and were unable to use the Goodison Park crowd to their advantage like they did so memorably six days earlier.

    The club's winless run in Merseyside derbies extends to 13 matches, while they remain in ninth position in the league ahead of two away fixtures after Christmas against champions Leicester on Boxing Day and Hull on December 30.
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    Item Reviewed: Everton 0-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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