Everton Focus - Toffees take point from riveting derby
With another Merseyside derby in the history books and Everton avoiding a repeat of last season’s record of three defeats in three games against Liverpool, there are different schools of thought about the result at Goodison Park.
The opposing camps generally fall into two categories - those that are thankful for the draw after being two goals down, and those that are disappointed Everton could not build on the momentum and take three points. Perhaps a third should be included, too - those feeling fortunate the assistant referee’s flag wrongly went up after Luis Suarez converted in the dying minutes.
David Moyes felt Suarez should not have been on the pitch in the first place after a foul on Sylvain Distin, but really the bigger issue for the manager should be how the Uruguayan found himself unmarked in the six yard box before the assistant’s flag intervened. Everton had a warning, too, when Suarez headed Steven Gerrard’s free-kick past Tim Howard in the first-half with the freedom of the penalty area in which to roam.
That was the second time Everton’s defence disintegrated. Suarez scored via Leighton Baines the first, leaving Everton with a mountain to climb. Climb it they did, to a point, and maybe could have gone further if Kevin Mirallas had stayed on the pitch after the first-half. The Belgian winger started slowly but grew into the game, tormenting Andre Wisdom and having a big hand in the equalising goal.
Nevertheless, as is so often the case, Suarez and events surrounding the striker dominated the post-match discussion. Suarez’s celebration, a retort to Moyes’ pre-match comments on his propensity to go to ground easily, was met with more of a chuckle than anything else by the manager.
Suarez will forever divide opinions and his exaggerated dive at Moyes’ feet after scoring - the goal that was later credited to Baines - did little to calm the furious atmosphere inside Goodison Park. But tensions between the crowd never really boiled over as they have in the recent past, although the setting off of flares by the visiting supporters was misguided at best and some of the songs from both sides more than a little off colour.
But by and large the game was a welcome change from some recent derby meetings, even if the result was changed enough from last season for Evertonian tastes. And the only punished dive on show not only came from the Everton side, but from captain Phil Neville, for which Moyes post-match rightly criticised the skipper.
The unfurling of a banner from the away end remarking on the solidarity between Everton and Liverpool over the Hillsborough Justice Campaign was a nice touch that will hopefully receive greater coverage in the coming week than protestations about red cards that could have been shown or goals that should have been given.
A return to the days when the fixture lived up to its friendly derby tag may still be a long way off, even if they ever return, but if this game nudges matters in that direction then maybe that will prove to be the best result of all, no matter how unlikely it seems at the moment.
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