He draws crowds. He attracts attention. He frustrates. He delights. Sometimes, he manages to do both. Liverpool supporters claim he is unique – a genius. In the eyes of many other football fans he is just another pantomime villain. Luis Suarez is his name and the temperamental Uruguayan forward was once again the star of the show as the Reds faced their bitter local rivals Everton at Goodison Park in an entertaining Merseyside derby.
David Moyes’ men, who finished above Liverpool in the Premier League last season for the first time since 2005, battled courageously and performed extremely well after falling behind by two goals with just 20 minutes on the clock, but Suarez was always going to make the headlines for his antics during the clash.
‘El Pistolero’, as he is fondly known by many of his fans, played a huge part in opening the scoring, marked the goal with a witty celebration that only he could have done, doubled Liverpool’s advantage shortly after, might have been dismissed for a challenge on defender Sylvain Distin and almost sealed the game with a late, late winning strike, only for it to be controversially chalked off by the linesman. For the majority of strikers in the top-flight, that would have counted as an unusually eventful afternoon. Not for Suarez.
Liverpool’s No 7 always seems to be in the thick of the action. Sometimes he steals the headlines with a mesmerising performance, often consisting of a stunning goal and a number of superb nutmegs past his puzzled opponents. On other occasions he provokes debate by going to ground too easily. Indeed, Moyes’ veiled criticism of the Uruguayan prior to the clash, where he claimed that diving would drive supporters away from football, clearly irritated Suarez. When his opening strike – which will go down as a Leighton Baines own goal thanks to a huge deflection – hit the back of the net, Suarez raced towards Moyes on the touchline and performed a ‘dive’ in front of the Scot. Even some Blues fans found the act and its timing rather funny.
What was not so humorous was Suarez’s challenge on Distin, which was worth a red card rather than the yellow that was given, according to the Everton boss. The striker caught Distin’s heel – Moyes felt it was malicious, Rodgers thought it was simply mistimed. Either way, that foul came back to bite Suarez and Liverpool. In the dying minutes of the game, the Uruguayan saw a close-range effort ruled out for offside. It was the wrong call – even Moyes admitted as such. In the end, many would accept that a draw was probably the fair result.
If anything, the Merseyside derby once again proved how important Suarez is to Liverpool. He frustrates by going to ground too easily at times, he angers by collecting bookings for dissent, he usually misses some excellent chances, but the Uruguayan makes up for it all with some moments of genius and by displaying his passion for the game. Suarez’s tally in the Premier League currently stands at six goals and he is well on his way to beating his record of 11 top flight goals last term. Hero or villain? You decide.
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