Post by Everton News. on Feb 20, 2021 19:50:49 GMT
Duncan Ferguson on the touchline leapt as high as he ever did when towering over defenders to score goals for Everton.
Again and again, he jumped, unable and unwilling to contain his glee.
Two feet away, Carlo Ancelotti remained fixed to the spot, enjoying the moment when Gylfi Sigurdsson’s penalty gave Everton a two-goal lead at Anfield in the Italian's own understated manner.
Everton already led through Richarlison’s immaculate third-minute strike, beautifully created by James Rodriguez, when the goalscorer burst over halfway and kept going.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was breaking his neck to keep pace and the numbers were in Liverpool’s favour: three defender’s against two attackers.
Calvert-Lewin’s excellent movement was matched by the quality of Richarlison’s pass and the striker was able to get a shot away which Alisson Becker saved down to his left.
As Calvert-Lewin darted after the rebound, he was obstructed by the prostate Trent Alexander-Arnold.
It was a penalty and they don’t come along often for Everton at Anfield – this was a third since World War Two – so waiting for referee Chris Kavanagh to check his video screen was no great hardship.
Sigurdsson rolled the kick inside Alisson’s left post for his fifth career goal on this ground.
Everton were in control for large parts of the game, scoring the goal to make their brisk start count, then limiting Liverpool to few opportunities while retaining a significant threat going forwards.
When Liverpool did create clear openings they found Jordan Pickford in splendid form, Everton's goalkeeper saving athletically from Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold before half-time and denying Mohamed Salah one-on-one in the second half.
Everton sounded their intent when Ben Godfrey belted the ball forwards at kick-off, forcing the hosts to concede a corner.
Lucas Digne’s delivery thudded into Godfrey’s thigh and rolled wide but Everton had Liverpool where they wanted them.
The home team had chances to clear their lines in the exchanges prior to Richarlison’s goal but couldn’t release the pressure.
Eventually Abdoualye Docoure steered a header towards James, occupying space in front of Liverpool’s back four.
Richarlison peeled off the back of Ozan Kabak, expecting the pass to arrive on cue.
The Brazilian’s confidence was well-placed, Kabak completely removed from the equation by James’ exquisite control and pass inside the Turk.
Alisson Becker didn’t have a chance with Richarlison’s right-footed finish, planted cross the goalkeeper and inside his international teammates’ right post.
Everton, operating with a three-man backline but switching to a back four when their opponents had possession, were controlled and solid.
Liverpool thrive on when given space and Everton were closing and hustling, while retaining discipline and shape, to deny their opponents oxygen.
Tom Davies, the visitors’ deepest midfielder, broke-up attacks and put his foot in at key moments.
Everton had ridden out a flurry of Liverpool pressure when the chance came to double their lead on 33 minutes.
Andre Gomes rolled a pass back for Digne, who shifted the ball out of his feet to deliver a wonderful deep cross.
Coleman, channelling his inner Andy Gray, snuck behind Andrew Robertson, to meet the delivery with a diving header the Alisson somehow pawed out to his left.
When the subsequentt corner was only partially hacked away, Digne’s shot flashed past the near post.
Jordan Pickford’s work in the opening 20 minutes was limited to a fisted clearance when Sadio Mane swiped in a ball from the left.
When Pickford was tested twice in quick succession he was equal to the test on both occasions.
Liverpool won a corner when Michael Keane covered to deflect wide from Roberto Firmino after the forward drifted into the box to receive Mane’s lay off.
The set-piece delivery was cleared by Godfrey but fell for Jordan Henderson to return a vicious dipping volley that Pickford flew to his right top tip round the post.
Pickford was leaping high to touch over 60 seconds later, Trent Alexander-Arnold the Liverpool player denied this time after taking aim from 20 yards.
The Everton goalkeeper watched a header from Nat Phillips – on in the 29th minute for the inured Henderson – crash into his side netting seven minutes before half-time.
Pickford saved comfortably down to his right from a Mane header shortly after the restart, the Senegalese directing a similar effort over from Curtis Jones’ cross minutes later.
Those two attempts sandwiched a fabulous piece of defending from Mason Holgate, getting himself between the ball and Mane after Alexander-Arnold’s square ball inside the area.
Richarlson passed up a chance to shoot just past the hour and immediately regretted his choice when Phillips stole possession.
Sigurdsson had replaced Gomes by that point – and by the time the Icelander forced Alisson to smother a low 20-yard drive, Calvert-Lewin was on for James.
The excellent Pickford was speedily off his line to spread himself and save from the elusive Salah – but it wasn’t until Sigurdsson struck from 12 yards that Liverpool mounted their next meaningful attack.
Sure, they were in and around Everton 18-yard box a lot but crosses were intercepted, passes anticipated and cleared.
An Alexander-Arnold delivery flashed across the face of goal with no takers.
There was a half-chance for Firmino moments after Sigurdsson’s goal but after using his nimble footwork to create the opening the forward saw his shot divert wide off the excellent Godfrey.
Sigurdsson nearly scored his second – and sixth on this ground, with the last kick of the game – the ball speeding past Alisson’s left upright from a 20-yard strike.
The whooping and hollering just seconds later from all those wearing blue suggested it didn’t really matter.
Everton were bristling with intent from the first whistle and capitalised on their express start in the most emphatic fashion.
When the away team’s teamsheet dropped it was broadly assumed James Rodriguez would play wide on the right.
The Colombian, in fact, started close to central striker Richarlison, meaning when he collected Abdoualye Doucoure’s third-minute header, James was in a position to hurt Liverpool.
In one motion, the Colombian killed the ball with his left boot and swatted it forwards, eliminating defender Ozan Kabak and releasing Richarlison into the box.
There was a time not so long when Richarlison was down on himself over his goals return.
Not anymore. The Brazilian strode onto James’ pass with the air of a man who believed he was about to open the scoring.
The finish was as clinical as the come, hit hard across goalkeeper Alisson and precisely into the corner.
Richarlison has four goals in four matches and is into double figures for the season.
He struck 14 in his first campaign after arriving from Watford in the summer of 2018/19 and went one better to score 15 last term.
Savouring the chance to play through the middle, the 23-year-old is back doing what makes him happiest: scoring goals for Everton.
Creating them, after his fabulous ball into the path of Calvert-Lewin ultimately resulted in Gylfi Sigurdsson putting Everton out of sight from the penalty spot.
This was Carlo Ancelotti’s 52nd match in charge of Everton and in terms of the formation employed by the Italian a throwback to his first game as manager.
Seamus Coleman – who played as a third centre-half in that Boxing Day 2019 match against Burnley – was ostensibly a wing-back here.
When Everton had possession, however, Coleman moved forwards to right midfield, with Mason Holgate switching to the right of defence as Ancelotti’s side flexed into a back four.
Coleman would have been forgiven for thinking Ancelotti was preserving his legs with the central role 14 months ago.
On his 300th start for the Club, however, Everton’s captain was given a job closer to the sort he was asked to perform at the outset of his career.
Back then, the buccaneering Coleman was an arch exponent of push and run, barrelling past players to drive his team onto the front foot.
Coleman today does his best attacking arriving in dangerous areas to receive the ball and here brought an excellent save from Alisson after meeting Lucas Digne’s searching cross with a diving header.
If he tore into Liverpool territory when chances opened up, then Coleman was rapidly back to become a fifth defender when it was Liverpool’s turn to pour forwards.
Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane remained fixed in their central roles and on the left Digne played more as an authentic full-back.
The mobile Holgate played with intelligence and authority as he fluidly transferred between roles in the middle and out wide.
Using James in a position off the main striker, meanwhile, was an Ancelotti masterstroke.
The Everton manager wanted to defensive ballast in wide areas to negate the attacking threat of Liverpool full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold
Releasing the Colombian from those backtracking duties enabled him to impose his creativity on the contest.
Liverpool’s midfielders always needed to keep and eye over their shoulders, too.
When James was withdrawn, the change was an attacking one, Dominic Calvert-Lewin coming on to join Richarlison in attack.
And just as he got it right with his starting XI, Ancelotti was on the money with his substitutions.
Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin combined to potent effect with 10 minutes remaining and when Calvert-Lewin was felled in the box, Gyfl Sigurdsson – another substitute – converted from the spot.
Everton had more than derby spoils resting on this game.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side needed to prevent two defeats in the past six days stretching into a run that could harm European ambitions.
Following a storming victory at Anfield, Everton remain close to the top-four positions and neck-and-neck with Liverpool in sixth.
There was further evidence, too, of Everton’s ability to consistently compete with teams from the division’s upper reaches.
This season, already, they have played each of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Leicester City, twice, while both Chelsea and Arsenal have been to Goodison Park.
Everton are undefeated in those eight games – winning six and drawing two – and it is that capacity to rival sides around them, coupled with prolific form away from home, keeping Ancelotti’s team on course to achieve their goals for the campaign.
Additionally, it felt important that the next eight days without a match weren’t spent reflecting on a derby defeat.
Everton return to action when Southampton visit Goodison on 1 March and from that date games will come and go in a hurry.
Pressure intensifies as we enter the season’s final stages, the margin for error squeezed as opportunities to recover lost points reduce in number.
A Merseyside derby is nobody’s testing ground but the game represented a useful dry run for when Everton face critical fixtures in the closing months, nonetheless.
There couldn’t have been many more difficult circumstances in which to try to recover your footing after a two-match stumble.
After turning over their neighbours in their own back yard, Everton are back up and running.