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    Liverpool 3-1 Everton Match Report

    Liverpool cleared yet another significant hurdle in their efforts to finish the season in the top-four with a convincing victory over local rivals Everton in the 228th Merseyside derby.

    Sadio Mane gave the home side an early breakthrough with his 13th goal of the season but their lead was cancelled out just before the half-hour mark through Everton debutant Matthew Pennington's first goal for the club.

    Philippe Coutinho produced the game's outstanding moment of quality when he restored Liverpool's advantage minutes after the visitors had equalised, with Divock Origi sealing all three points with a clinical finish.

    The win allowed Jurgen Klopp's side to move into third place, two points clear of Manchester City who halved their deficit on Sunday when they were held to a 2-2 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

    Liverpool went into the match needing to win to open up a seven-point gap over Manchester United, while victory would also take the club nine points clear of Arsenal despite playing three extra games.

    The Reds were without injured midfield duo Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson, while the fitness of Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, who both recently returned from representing Brazil on international duty, was the subject of debate ahead of kick-off.

    Visitors Everton went into the game in excellent form having won seven of their last 10 league matches and another win for Ronald Koeman's side would narrow the gap from their Merseyside rivals to just three points.

    The Toffees, who were without a win at Anfield since 1999, endured a frustrating international break with James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori all ruled-out of the fixture due to injury.

    It prompted Koeman to name a youthful starting XI, with Tom Davies, Matthew Pennington, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all playing at Anfield for the first time in their respective careers.

    Liverpool's greater experience was evident early on as the home side dominated the opening 28 minutes, with Philippe Coutinho returning to his majestic best with a masterclass performance from midfield.

    The blue touch paper was lit in an often-feisty encounter in the sixth-minute when Ross Barkley made a late tackle on Emre Can, although it only seemed to fire-up the home side who took the lead two minutes later.

    Sadio Mane still to had plenty of work to do as his run was checked by three Everton defenders inside the penalty area but his early left-footed strike seemed to catch-out a flat-footed Joel Robles.

    The Spaniard could only watch on in disbelief as Pennington, making his first appearance of the season, failed to dispossess the Senegal international who duly drilled the ball clinically into the bottom right-hand corner.

    Liverpool then nearly doubled their lead when Coutinho produced some dazzling footwork to beat Pennington but his subsequent strike was saved by a combination of both goalkeeper Robles and Phil Jagielka's headed goal-line clearance.

    Although 22-year-old Pennington endured a tough opening to the match, he experienced a moment he will never forget for the rest of his career as he found himself all alone to equalise for the visitors at the Kop end.

    Leighton Baines' corner was headed on by Jagielka and although Dejan Lovren made a crucial intervention to deny Ashley Williams, the ball fell perfectly for Pennington to convert the easiest of chances from four yards.

    Everton's fightback proved short-lived, however, with Coutinho resuming normal service for the home side three minutes later when he produced the game's standout moment that will forever be part of Merseyside derby folklore.

    The Brazilian weaved past Idrissa Gueye before coming inside to curl a spectacular strike between two Everton defenders and into the corner of the goal from 13 yards.

    Although the remainder of the half saw little in terms of clear-cut chances, it remained a fascinating spectacle due to a series of flashpoints which occurred both on the pitch and on the touchline.

    Ashley Williams appeared to tread on Emre Can after he had already fouled the German international, while Ross Barkley was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card when he made a late shin-high challenge on Dejan Lovren.

    Tempers then reached boiling-point shortly before half-time when Lucas Leiva's challenge on Holgate led to angry words being exchanged on the touchline between both Klopp and Koeman.

    Everton began the second-half in a more positive vein and they could have drawn level when Ross Barkley's pinpoint delivery from a free-kick found a stretching Williams inside the Liverpool area.

    The Welsh international would have gifted Romalu Lukaku with a tap-in had he successfully found his team-mate, who had the goal at his mercy, but his off-target cross was easily cut-out by Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

    The home side started to increase their intensity once again as they searched for a decisive third goal, with both Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho finding themselves in promising positions inside the Everton penalty area.

    Can's right-footed strike was partially blocked by Ashley Williams, which presented Coutinho with what should have been a simple tap-in only for the Brazilian to get the ball stuck under his feet.

    Liverpool were then forced into making a substitution as the hour-mark approached when Sadio Mane left the field with a knee injury and Divock Origi, who was looking to score in the fixture for the second-successive season, was introduced.

    The Belgian only had to wait three minutes to find himself with the goal at his mercy, courtesy of Coutinho's weaving run and clever pass, and he duly fired the ball ruthlessly past Robles from 20 yards.

    Although Origi's strike ultimately sealed the win for the home side, Everton continued to create openings in the final 30 minutes with Holgate missing two excellent chances to set-up a grandstand finish in less than a minute.

    The 20-year-old's deflected effort required a instinctive save from Mignolet, which the Belgian saw late, while he should have done better when he headed a pinpoint Leighton Baines cross over the crossbar.

    Liverpool's own youngster, 18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold, also came close to scoring in the dying minutes but his side-footed effort was pushed wide at full-stretch by Joel Robles.

    It proved to be the last meaningful action in what was a thoroughly deserved win for Jurgen Klopp's side, who extended their unbeaten run in Merseyside derbies to 14 matches and also opened-up a nine-point gap on their local rivals.

    Philippe Coutinho produced a dazzling display from midfield, which earned him the man of the match award, while the home side were far more cohesive than their opponents in addition to being more clinical in their finishing.

    The only blemish on an otherwise memorable day for the red half of Merseyside was the knee injury sustained by Sadio Mane after a challenge from Leighton Baines, which could rule the Senegalese midfielder out for the remainder of the season.

    Liverpool, who climb to third in the table, next entertain 14th-place Bournemouth on Wednesday night, with Sunday's trip to the Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion taking place four days later.

    Everton, meanwhile, never recaptured the magnificent form that they had produced since Christmas, with the Premier League's top-scorer Romalu Lukaku starved of possession throughout the game.

    The bold changes that Ronald Koeman made to his team's starting line-up failed to pay-off, with his side lacking experience at the back to deal with an in-form Coutinho as well as a cutting edge in the final third of the field.

    The result leaves The Toffees in seventh-place, eight points behind fourth-place Manchester City and a point behind sixth-place Arsenal after the two sides drew 2-2 at The Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

    Everton return to action on Tuesday night when they play Manchester United at Old Trafford, while in-form Leicester City are the next visitors to Goodison Park this coming Sunday.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 3-1 Everton Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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