Jagielka screamer rescues Everton
Phil Jagielka scored an injury time stunner by firing in a half-volley from 25 yards out, a goal of the highest quality in a game which fierce rivals Liverpool really should have won.
Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool the lead halfway through the second half with a free-kick from around 23 yards, and despite looking comfortable, they were made to rue various missed chances throughout as Jagielka’s goal ended the game 1-1.
The crowd roared the Reds on to a lively start as they passed the ball around with plenty of zip as the speed of Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic too caused problems for Everton early on.
Gareth Barry made a very shaky start to the match, he was booked inside the first few minutes after a rash challenge on Liverpool’s Adam Lallana, before he blatantly handled a Jordan Henderson shot inside of his own box, Barry escaped what should have been a nailed on second yellow, and Everton escaped a penalty of the same nature. It could and should have been an even longer way back for Everton.
But Everton began to settle down midway through the first half and they appealed for a penalty of their own when Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno appeared to bring down Romelu Lukaku in the box, though, it was certainly less clear-cut than Barry’s handball, but referee Martin Atkinson and his assistants will certainly have things to answer for post-match.
Chances had come and gone for Liverpool in the majority of the first half as Sterling and Mario Balotelli spurned a few chances, the former had a great chance when Henderson played in the winger down the left, but from an angle, Sterling shot straight at Everton ‘keeper Tim Howard.
The red-hot atmosphere remained as Liverpool continued to press but the Everton fans made plenty of noise too whenever their team got forward, Naismith made a nuisance throughout by dropping into the hole and channels to cancel out Gerrard and provide ammunition in attack as Everton looked to break quickly, mostly by utilising the attack-minded Leighton Baines from the left full-back position.
Everton had a great chance to take the lead towards the end of the first half when Baines seized on the ball inside Liverpool’s box after Javi Manquillo failed to clear, but Baines’ low cross was just cut out in time by Dejan Lovren.
The second half began in similar fashion as Liverpool edged possession, but again, their intensity and endeavor was thwarted by a strong and resolute Everton rearguard, a defence that has received heavy criticism of late.
Balotelli, whose work rate was better than in recent games, just looked a little rusty when he had the ball and could have been slightly more mobile, but it was his dribbling that evaded Baines’ challenge on the edge of the box, and it caused the England full-back to bring down Balotelli, and it was from the resulting free-kick that Gerrard scored.
With various suitors fancying the free-kick, Gerrard made his effort look easy as he dipped the ball past a small Everton wall, and though the ball ended up not quite in the corner, it was a great effort by Gerrard, though, some will question the handling of Howard after the ‘keeper got a hand to it, yet couldn’t keep it out.
As the game went on it remained more of the same as Liverpool pressed, but the Toffees still looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Aiden McGeady, who came on for Kevin Mirallas in the first half, was beginning to look more dangerous with his trickery and Baines also continued to pose a threat.
As the game entered its closing stages, three minutes were added on as Liverpool looked more comfortable. But in the second minute of stoppage time, Baines’ corner looked over hit, but when it came back out, it was followed up by Jagielka who wasted no time in smashing a right-footed half-volley across Liverpool ‘keeper Simon Mignolet and into the top right hand corner A goal of real quality.
And in the dying seconds, Everton almost snatched it when Baines’ low free-kick was almost neatly flicked in by Barry.
The Liverpool fans were distraught as the final whistle went, whilst there was pandemonium amongst the Everton fans.
The performance, though was pleasing for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers who praised his side after the game, and Everton manager Roberto Martinez was also pleased with the defensive capabilities from his side.
But Everton will certainly have the happier set of supporters in a game which Liverpool will see as a game they should have won.